………the monsters in our head the monsters in our heart the monsters in our soul the monsters in our head the monsters in our heart the monsters in our soul the monsters in our head the monsters in our heart the monsters in our soul the monsters in our head the monsters in our heart the monsters in our soul the monsters in our head the monsters in our heart the monsters in our soul…………
Oh, my darling invisible friends, how the world has changed!! I am certainly not the oldest person in the world, but I have experienced the world long enough to know that change happens whether we want it or not. Years ago, this whole “internet” business was non-existent, and the only people you really knew were those you came in direct contact with…unless you were just geeky or curious enough to branch out and get one of those archaic things known as a pen-pal (I was, and I did) and even then, you only knew what was written on that piece of paper that came in the mail, or what photos were included, and even then it was a given that all of that information could be a lie.
Nowadays, it’s incredibly easy to lie. You can become a totally different person with a few keystrokes! Why, all you really have to do is think of who you want to be, type it out all neat and tidy-like, and voila! You are now Sam Jones, Athletic Director for the prestigious School of Really Smart People Who Like To Be Athletic (apologies to anyone named Sam Jones…)
I have encountered quite a few people online in the last several years. Some are exactly what they portray on the screen, and some are brazen crazies online and perfectly sane in person….and some are somewhere in between. Some people forever hide behind cartoon avatars and others give airs of being incredibly educated or influential, when in real life they are trembling wallflowers…
Why is that? Why exactly must you always pretend? Doesn’t it get tiresome? I’m so puzzled by this double-agent mentality.
I’ve been thinking in recent weeks about my own online persona. Granted, the name “Ann Thraxx” is not my actual name. But I like that name, and have even told people, “Call me Annie,” because really, my pen-name has become an integral part of me. It is my nom de plume and rather than hide behind it, I’ve simply absorbed it. I am Ann Thraxx, and that’s okay. I can differentiate between stepping outside my door and going to pay a bill or signing for a package, and signing my alias to the various little notes I leave on Instagram. It’s not rocket science…
One point of pride for me, however, is that I am the same person online as I am on the phone, and as I am in person. I’m a geek, somewhat of a nerd, I love to jest and I ask a lot of questions. I never claim expertise on anything – and I am extremely okay with that. The only thing I know how to do with no hesitation whatsoever is to be myself. Do I post photos with layers of filters added to make me look more maniacal than I actually am? Sure I do, right alongside those less than flattering (and sometimes downright embarrassing) snapshots because truly, who cares? I’m me, and there’s not a damned thing I can do about it if I want to be a complete person. I won’t be a sliver of some broken mirror. I refuse to be anything less than what I am.
I have met plenty of people from the World of Internet and I don’t plan to stop. There are some that I know from the online world that I hope never, ever to meet…the level of false persona with those folks is so unbelievably high that I think I would be physically ill should they ever show themselves to me in person.
You know who I’m talking about. The people that you might chat with every now and again who can’t seem to keep their stories straight…one minute they are prolific at this particular thing, and the next minute they have no idea how a + b = c ….even though just a few days prior they were bragging to you how intensely interested they are in this equation! Then you have the people who message you every ten minutes, all day, every day – for no reason known to mankind. What absolute fucking delights they must be in real life!!
And, if you think people in your immediate circle of real-life humanity can be back-stabbing or subversive, you should dip a curious hand into the swirling cesspool online! You’re libel to pull back a nub.
Recently I wrote a short piece of fiction and had it published anonymously on a website. I didn’t particularly care about the story, because my genre is more wrapped in poetry or fantasy or horror, and this was none of the above. The story was simply a writing exercise; a warm-up. It was something to loosen my fingers up a bit so that I could write a few thousand words into another project.
The backlash from a few particular people was not surprising to me at all…what surprised me were the conversations that happened after…just random conversations in which people delighted in telling me how this simple writing exercise annoyed (and even infuriated) others. I have to admit, I was amused.
I never took credit for the story, and never will. It’s a bunch of words…big deal. What a strange thing to harbor jealousy over…
I won’t end this little journal entry on that note. I have to mention something I’ve mentioned before, and that is the tremendous amount of respect and fondness I have for several people I only know online. Someday that’ll change, but for now they hold a special place – from a great distance – in my world.
One is a man who writes the most disturbing fiction I’ve ever encountered, and he has opened my eyes to the benefits of being an unapologetic writer.
Another is a woman who is so completely crazy, and loveable, and real, that I’ve made a point to try to speak to her regularly by phone. Her art is some of my favorite.
Another is a guy that I have described as a “dark gem of the greatest brilliance” because his artistic abilities with images and words are so breathtakingly wicked, and yet he is a kind-hearted guy with an unbelievable sense of humor.
Still another is a masked figure who is completely anonymous, and yet remains true to his actual self because his real interests and real concern for people he calls ‘friend’ cannot be masked.
There are several others …but my point is this: the internet mirrors the real world. There are people in the real world that will forever hide behind some kind of falsity and this is true for the online world. There are people in the world who are so unbelievably wonderful and there are people just that way online, as well. It can be difficult to determine which is which, and it took me the better part of a year to mature into the Ann Thraxx I am today (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) but I am getting better at distinguishing between these two types of people.
So…who are you? Are you who and what you say you are?
Why the hell not?