On Being Forced To Be ‘Your Real Self’ Online

tumblr_lvqvfsXiSU1qzll1yVia an interview with Pixel Union, head of Tumblr’s mobile division Buzz Andersen on the problem of being forced to be your real identity online — isn’t the internet supposed to free us from that?

One of the things that fascinates me is the way a lot of young people seem to use Tumblr, which is basically as a positive, aspirational alternative to the social networking institution they’re accustomed to: Facebook.

Rather than forcing them to represent themselves as they are, which I think is Facebook’s major goal, Tumblr allows them to represent the romantic self (or selves) they wish to be. I think this is a big part of the intense emotional attachment a lot of people seem to have to Tumblr.

Facebook is currently #1 in terms of time spent online, but Tumblr recently became #2. I think this is because they both appeal to intense human desires, but I would argue that off the two Tumblr appeals to the more positive …

Read More: Pixel Union

11 Comments on "On Being Forced To Be ‘Your Real Self’ Online"

  1. My goal insofar as the Web goes is complete anonymity.

    When it was still possible to do so, I got a Facebook account under a fake name so I could lurk. I “friended” no one and of course wasn’t “friended.” After a few weeks of occasional lurking, I found I couldn’t log on any more, most likely because I wasn’t giving Facebook any useable data on myself.

    Fine with me. Any service that requires my “true identity” is a service I refuse to use, period.

    Strange as it may seem in this day and age, I actually know people who not only do not get online, THEY DON’T EVEN OWN A COMPUTER. Unbelievable, perhaps, but true. It CAN be done. People can just WALK AWAY.

    • Anomaly_of_Anomie | Mar 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm |

      Identity and internet have about as much in common as you’re willing to allow. Social networking has narcissist appeal, so it is a good way for governing powers to lure common people into volunteering comprehensive profiles that tell everything about them. Genius. Hey when it’s 1984 someday, and you are considered a criminal for drinking coffee, that facebook post in 2012 may come back to haunt you. 

      I know people who are non-affiliated. I’m old enough to remember life before the internet. Family and friends… the overall sense of local community was tight. People can walk away, absolutely!  If they are willing to make sacrifices regarding their accustomed comfort of living. Should the system continue to outgrow it’s people I’m willing to bet that for some, there’s going to be plenty of incentive. 

  2. I actually am the dictator of the Caldari State irl. You guys also can’t prove that I’m not.

  3. Hadrian999 | Mar 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm |

    One’s real life is often the life one does not lead.
    Oscar Wilde

  4. Boycott Facebook and Google. Support newer, more private social networks!

    • robertpinkerton | Mar 27, 2012 at 11:59 am |

      I concur with the first part. I dissent from the second, my alternative being abstention whole and entire from online social networking. These networks are fora for self-advertisement.

  5. Simiantongue | Mar 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm |

    “Rather than forcing them to represent themselves as they are, which I
    think is Facebook’s major goal, Tumblr allows them to represent the
    romantic self (or selves) they wish to be.”

    I don’t agree. Someones supposed ‘real’ identity is actually the “romantic self (or selves), they wish to be”. An identity for the public face. An anonymous identity online is the truer representation of who someone is I think.

    In fact by insisting people use their real identity all facebook does is help reinforce that illusion. It doesn’t “force people to represent themselves as the are”, it forces them to maintain the illusion they’ve built in larger society of who they supposedly are. The whole institutional system of identity is actually based on building a pseudonym, a facade.  At best it’s a system of self censoring behaviors that people create and live by, in order to avoid incurring negative consequences from larger society. At worst the identity you make is an outright lie to garner advantages by directly misrepresenting what you think or who you really are as a person. It’s not the reality of who people are either way.

    If you want to know who someone really is give them anonymity. Then you’ll meet the person. Take away most of the constraints of social consequence and the facade of that supposedly ‘real’ identity will melt away.

    I don’t mean to infer that when given anonymity people are inherently rotten either. There are indeed rotten trolls and such, but at the same time people can anonymously act decent also. The basic premise I’m shooting at here is that only when someone is anonymous can you be sure you are meeting the real person. When given a choice to either be decent or rotten mostly free of any consequence, that’s when you’re talking to the real person. Whatever characteristics they then chose to express, respectively, was already inherently there. Anonymity simply allows them to express those characteristic freely. Which I think I prefer to deal with people as they really are, either truly rotten or decent, instead of a facade they present.  Allow me a quote here I don’t think I could express it better. It partially addresses what I’m saying.

    “Men are so generally spoiled by being so civil and well disposed. You can have no profitable conversation with them, they are so conciliatory, determined to agree with you. They exhibit such long suffering and kindness in a short interview. I would meet with some provoking strangeness, so that we may be guest and host and refresh one another. It is possible for a man to wholly disappear and be merged in his manners. The thousand and one gentlemen with whom I meet, I meet despairingly and but to depart from them, for I am not cheered by the hope of any rudeness from them. A cross man, a coarse man, an eccentric man, a silent, a man who does not drill well, of him there is some hope. Your gentlemen, they are all alike. They utter their opinions as if it was not a man that uttered them.” – Henry David Thoreau.

  6. When it comes to being forced to be yourself on line, that is never what could possibly happen. What will happen is you will be forced to pretend to be what mass media marketing tells you to be. All those peer pressure targeted ads will be jammed down your throat at every turn and you will either conform or be targeted on those no longer quite so social forums.
    End result, you will simply shift to where you can be yourself but not yourself, free to express without being targeted for not conforming to mass media’s corrupted mass consumption message, we love rich people message.
    History has proven social forums are the new yoyo, fad sites that rise to the top only to disappear into obscurity when the next one takes it’s place.

  7. Otto Vaughn | Apr 5, 2012 at 1:51 am |

    Funny–Ironic–Pretentious–Denial–Delusion–Pathos Indeed

    People on the Internet making comments about staying off the Internet.  LMAO.  And anyone having to outright lie about who they are, in order to “live” in a makeshift cyber world, is truly pathetic.  I know some of these people—  and tell them it’s a disfunction without reservation.  Shut-ins, education, general information, eCommerce, and yes– free porn aside (ain’t paying if I don’t have to, yea?)–  if you have 10 fingers, 10 toes and a functioning heartbeat— get the hell off the ADD internet– “social” media addiction and get out of the house.

  8. I love Tumbler and I only use FB to communicate with all my relatives, I am not a phone person and well all live in different states.

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