Sometimes I forget that people aren’t always what they seem to be online. Even more often, I forget that people don’t always look how they look online. We all get lucky in some photos and less lucky in others. A few genetic freaks of nature look amazing from every angle, in every light. But not most of us.
Here’s a really unflattering picture of me, taken last November after I tripped over a curb and broke my hip. Ordinarily I’d rather die than post it, but I need it to illustrate my point. (On the bright side, you can see my O.J. Simpson Trading Cards in the background.)
At Sea of Shoes, for example, you will never see a photo of Sea’s behind. And she’s announced many times that she looks for “volume” in clothes. She knows how to conceal her weaker areas and play up the stronger ones.
This photo confirms that Sea has to work hard to get those glowing portraits she posts! It’s the magic of a $2,000 Nikon and the right lighting.
People remind me over and over that someone’s online persona may be nothing like their real self. When I told my sister about one of my dearest cyber-friends, she exclaimed, “How do you know that anything they say is true?!” Her cynicism upset me. I just assume I can discern a genuine personality from a manufactured one.
Recently I read this essay by Zadie Smith on “The Social Network” and Facebook, and it blew my mind. I can’t recommend it highly enough! The notion that we may be learning to limit our actual selves by the way we shape our own “brands” online is really thought provoking. It disturbs me.
My own online presence is a little disturbing to me. People know too much about me. I’m open about my whole life. I may regret it, but I can’t think why, since I’ll never run for president or seek a corporate job. But I can at least say that I’m not presenting a fake or even well-edited version of who I am. I think I’m exactly what I seem like. But maybe a tiny bit less of a cunt.