Creating an Authentic "Self" Online

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#1

Hi,

I’m curious if anyone has any thoughts about how to “be” online in way that encourages good communication and a consistent persona across different sites such as forums, social media, for-sale sites, etc. I’m not sure if other people experience this, but I have a very difficult time not compartmentalizing my online persona for each site I use. I end up never posting or building a real profile because it requires so much energy and I feel completely anonymous/untrustworthy…I’ve found a wealth of information from forum members over the years but have never really had the need or courage to actually post anything.

There are very good examples of members on this forum who have built a persona or brand that I recognize and trust on here, the other forum, instagram, reverb, etc. (or some collection of sites like that). I’m wondering if anyone has thoughts about the subject of online persona/personality or tips on how to be more comfortable and authentic online.

I suppose this thread is about forum best practices for real connection with real people in an online environment.


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#2

On another note, I recently moved to Portland, OR from TX and left behind many of my close music making friends and have struggled to find real connection here (I know great people are here, but I have been shy). Lines has been the first forum I have encountered that feels welcoming and accessible for me. Members seem to gain a lot by being involved and there seems to be a great deal of respect given to each other while fostering a real sense of community. I’d like to join in!

(This is my first post to the lines forum and a first meaningful post to any forum)


#3

Interesting question.

I suppose my take is just to be myself in all settings online. However, that comes with an important caveat. If I’m feeling snarky or like I won’t contribute anything productive I generally won’t contribute anything at all. While I have a much tougher time being reserved in real life, I figure why add to the chaos/noise online. As a result, I probably come across as more chipper and cheerful than I actually am. So while I’m still being me, I’m filtering out the less savory part hopefully. I promise it’s for your own good. :slight_smile:

Either way, welcome. I definitely agree that this forum is quite warm. If you’re in Portland and make music, what kind of stuff? I have a few friends out there.


#4

I don’t really have anything to add to what @sellanraa said, except +1. I’m basically just “me” online, but perhaps a bit filtered in order to keep it constructive.


#5

jaron lanier’s manifesto “you are not a gadget” inspired me to be less anonymous online. make your own website (sans template for bonus points). use your real name. share the things that you do and make - not just like. let your personality spill out earnestly.


#6

Earnest, that’s a good word. Maybe it’s my Wisconsin/upper midwestern roots, but I’m often accused of being too earnest sometimes. I’d like to think that’s a reflection of just how ironic/sarcastic the world has gotten, more than me being overly earnest though.


#7

Great words. Do you notice any specific barriers that make it difficult to be yourself online or does your personality naturally jell with this type of communication?

(This response literally took me 10 min to send - maybe I have anxiety about who I am talking to? The great void, everyone, someone I don’t like, someone I might love?? haha)


#8

It took me forever to start posting on this forum. I lurked for years before my first post. I was intimidated by a place that had so many people in it that I admired.

And then I eventually realized that I was being pretty dumb, holding back from interacting with people that I obviously held in high regard (exactly the kind of people I should be interacting with).

In some places (Twitter, for example) I really hold myself in reserve because people can be so abusive there. On Facebook I really let it all hang out, because the people there are almost entirely my friends and family in real life (and I never post “Public”). I feel very comfortable being myself on this forum because everyone is so excellent (never abusive) and because this forum is about a topic I’d almost always rather be thinking about (than, well, anything else).

But I think part of why I took so long to open up here was that I was afraid of appearing uninformed or foolish about things that people obviously knew a great deal about. Partially this insecurity was simply unnecessary (people here love to help each other learn and grow, generally) and partially this was a good motivator for me to improve my knowledge and skill until I felt more comfortable.


#9

This makes a lot of sense…I guess I have a lot of work to do before I trust myself and the Internet to do that in a way that feels real

I took a quick look at the manifesto and am definitely going to read that asap. That will be very helpful.

@shellfritsch you are one of the people I was thinking about as someone who I admire in the context of this topic. I hardly know you at the very most, but I feel a sense of who you are based on your online persona and I think that I would like you in real life, ha!

(this post only took 5 mins - I’m getting better!)


#10

This is very encouraging! I get the sense that this is a safer place than many on the Internet, and the content is wonderful. I think starting this topic is kind of similar action. I want to begin to engage in the conversations and learn from others here.

I think to add on to feeling foolish and less experienced, I also fear being unknown. Like I have to prove who I am or something which sounds silly as I type it.

(dang, that took 7 mins…)


#11

Oh, and @sellanraa, I played guitar in a female led rock-ish band in Texas called Lomelda (as well as a few other projects).

Since moving to PDX a year ago, I have fallen deeply into the modular synth and recording worlds and landed in the monome grid/isms territory. I have essentially transitioned from a guitar player to a hopeful producer still trying to figure out how to finish projects and have a defined style. Ultimately, I love working with people more than just by myself (hence, the feeling of isolation and the need to connect here) and I would love to work scoring films/media…the long path

Also, I apologize for the long strand of independent replies. I gotta learn forum etiquette!


#12

Discourse (the forum software lines is built on) really does a great job of reminding us about the forum etiquette. Really encourages me to “draft” my responses before hitting “Reply”. I find I’ll often mull over what I’m going to post here for hours or even days before finally doing so. Such a contrast to the hot takes of Twitter land.


#13

this community is a remarkable and unique lighthouse. even across these posts, you’ve opened up more and found ways to write about yourself genuinely and vulnerably.

it’s funny, the thing you’re describing is exactly why i started the Sound + Process podcast. i wanted to find a way to make lines feel as tangible a place as possible, because it was coming to mean so much in my offline life. i reference this community constantly when talking about the power of the internet helping to close and transcend geographical and interpersonal gaps between humans.

you are very welcome here @Drewsky and i can’t wait to see what you add to the convo.


#14

Ah @Dan_Derks, I’m listening to the first episode now. This is fantastic. Thank you for those very encouraging words. I’m already feeling a lot better about being a part of this community.

Does anyone have any more theoretical perspectives or suggested readings about what it means to connect or express your personality online?


#15

Without getting too esoteric such as, “What is self?” I exist in both public and private. My private life is singular but my public lives are plural. Even though I’m always good ol’ me… I participate in multiple, sometimes overlapping publics throughout my day.

Besides this fine community, here is another group that I participate in and hold in very high esteem:

https://indieweb.org/principles

As for philosophy, or at least intent, I think the key principles are both how and why I’m online in the first place.


#16

Very interesting a valuable question you have asked.

This is something both myself and my wife have struggled in the past.

In an attempt to keep this short, all I would suggest is thinking about it the same way you might when visiting different locations in the physical world, and how you adjust your approach there and yet still maintain a sense of self. For example, a library, a government building, a friends house, a pub, public transport, the mountains etc. These all allow a new sense of self to be practiced and explored, and obviously any online version is just as real as these examples, it’s just a partial digital method of engagement. The feelings and interactions are just as real, it’s just the social signals differ slightly as they might in any given context.

One main obstacle is what you post online, is potentially there to stay, and exist beyond your influence. Unlike a physical interaction, bar recording everything you do, it tends to have an engagement that we are only partially invited to. We miss things as conversation about us might continue, or opinions are shared without our presence, and are only reported back with moderation. The online version of this is we can dip into and out of that conversation, repeatably, and at any point in history. Essentially its timeline is different to physical, it’s broken up in sections as apposed to linear.

I guess what I am trying to say is, moderating yourself at first seems increased compared to physical world, but after a short amount of time, it becomes apparent that it’s a valuable experience to have and learn from, which really comes from finding your own path in engagement online, just like you would in the physical world. I have found this happens rather naturally, through just trial and error, much like life in general.

Basically, “be online”, much in the same way as you would pick out your clothes, your favourite band t-shirt, how you decide what cafe or restaurant is for you. Shape your world as you wish it to be shaped, it’s yours after all.

Someone said to be once after I commented on his shoes being incredible and I could never pull that style off, he turned and said to me so effortlessly, “sure you can, you just put them on”.


#17

100% agree with this.

I find that idea/concern to be an imposition from the world of capital/marketing that you must present a version(/“product”) of yourself online as that is what you present to the world, and presentation to the world is equal to be for sale to the world.

There are many things I think about in a similar way, with regards to the “real world”, which are just pragmatic vacuums that suck you into concerns that are not (necessarily) intrinsic, relevant, useful, interesting, etc… to art/creativity/music. It’s the sticky residue of, in a lesser extent, capitalism, and in a larger extent, oppression.

So I guess my answer is that the question itself is wrong.

As far as functioning online, I’m active in many communities and have been for years, and I’m myself on there just like anywhere else, something that I extend to my real-life encounters. I’m myself when I teach, when I make art, and when I’m at home. (edit: @Angela has informed me that’s not completely accurate, but I guess more more consistant than most still)

I don’t use (or like) Facebook largely because its bidirectional nature, curated/algorithmic stream, and of course all the bullshit privacy assaults. Twitter I use, but not too much, though I like the model more, as I can follow sites/people that I find interesting and leave it at that. I have been thinking about leaving twitter lately though, due to its media collusion stuff, but that’s another topic altogether!


#18

I prefer to create an authentic online self to a real life self. I’m always awkward in real life, I stutter, I have to think a lot to tell exactly what I think with the right words, and I have an absurd body language. I feel I’m more authentic when talking online, I can say exactly what I want, without being interrupted, I can organize my thoughts and speech the way I want them to be organized and understood.
I like the fact that you’re not an individual online, you’re a vague idea, you could be anything, and so what matters is what you say, the ideas you defend, and not how you defend them, and what you look like.

But it’s always complicated, I’ve been part of a forum where someone basically invented his life, posted videos of strangers playing guitar pretending that was him… Everyone can invent his life on the internet. Everyone’s playing a role, but whatever, everyone plays a role in real life anyway. We choose the way we dress, we chose the way we talk, we choose what we want to be perceived by other human beings. It’s easier on the internet, so that may be overdone and more obvious to others, but this is just a basic reflect of what a human being is like; trying to be seen as he wants to bee seen, trying to look like the person he wants to be.


#19

it took me a long time too before i posted my first post, it was still on the old forum. i was totally new to electronic music (apart from some experience with Garageband) when i got my monome or grid 64. so i felt really overwhelmed by all the knowledge and skills of the forum members. there also was, and still is, the language barrier. people who’s mother tongue isn’t English, like me, can get insecure about writing in a foreign language. i still feel a bit of shame when posting longer sentences because i know for sure my grammar isn’t correct or my wording is just very weird. but on the other hand, no one has ever complained about it, and the most important thing is that it is understandable.

i also ‘filter’ myself here and on other online places. but now that i type this i realize that i do this offline too.

anyways, welcome @Drewsky and thanks for your interesting first question here!


#20

This much-used phrase “just being yourself” always puzzles me…

Can we do something else than “present a version of ourselves” (as @Rodrigo puts it) online or to the world? Whatever we consider that self to be, it is not a given. It is not a fixed, rigid, unchangeable part of our being but rather a construct we do our best to keep up and keep consistent and, at best, have it be efficient to navigate our daily lives and dealings with others. It is, of course, influenced by things that are out of our control, that are given: our physical body and appearance, our temperament, the environment we live in, etc… Within these boundaries, we “play” ourselves to the best of our abilities. That doesn’t mean being a fraud or some kind of chameleon-like impostor. It does mean you choose to be who you are, and therefor you are responsible for that choice.

So I don’t think the question is wrong. It asks “how to be”. Surely that is a valuable concern.