Everyone that’s spent as long on the internet as I have has at least one, if not more, online personas. Even if you try to only represent yourself, there’s always a version of yourself presented to the online world at large that is at least somewhat unique to that environment and is (usually) only present there.
I met my boyfriend online when we were twelve; until we met in person, there was always the underlying belief that the online personas we presented were, at least in part, largely representative of our real selves.
But how do we separate these selves? I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that part of these personas are me. The problem, however, is that these personas grow and evolve. You find an online community; a group of like minds within that community; you develop mannerisms, quotes, jokes and actions that are shared only in these online circumstances. Your persona starts to gain standing and a mind of its own. It’s still you; however, you find yourself editing your comments, knowing that the persona wouldn’t normally use those words or perform that action.
What happens when these personas have their own lives separate from ours? When we begin to assimilate these personalities that have grown without our explicit intent into our own? Who do we become? What happens if we have several personas trying to integrate – or not – into our “normal” selves?
And how much of it is a choice?
(I just came out of a conference and could barely hold in this blog post; unfortunately, I’m untalented at typing on this damn phone, but I’m going to try.)