I just watched this video from Trisha Hershberger, and it got me thinking (warning: the video is full of naked people). In the video they talked about how people use the Internet to be dicks to each other. And it's true to a certain extent. The internet is full of dicks, both literally and figuratively. You don't have to look farther than the comments section on any website to find it. People are being mean to other people for no reason, except their perceived anonymity. Everything is dicks out there. People that study this phenomenon ("Social Media Analysts", I think they're called. That, or "losers in their mom's basement". Either one.) have come to the conclusion that because people are hidden from the people they interact with, they use that as an excuse to reveal their true selves (SPOILER: their true selves is dicks). I'm not going to expand on this, because you already know it. Instead, I'm going to talk about me, because look at the URL. I spend a lot of my time on the internet, like a lot of time on the internet (like all of the time on the internet). I'm mostly on Reddit (no, I'm not telling you my usernames) but also a lot on Twitter @AqilDhanani, Instagram @aqildhanani, YouTube @aqildhanani, WordPress at aqil.ca, and a little bit on Facebook @aqild. Notice a pattern there? All of my usernames are also my IRL username, or as it's known IRL: my name. I'm Aqil Dhanani all over the internet, and I'm Aqil Dhanani off the internet. It's not because I'm not creative, it's mostly because I have commitment issues. If I were to create an online alias, I would have to make content as that alias; I would have to write, think, and feel as that alias; I would have to become my alias. And, that's just not going to fly. I don't know what it is, but I just can't horcrux myself out to the internet. It's hard enough for me to have the personality that I have, I'm not going to create another one for the internet.
So, as a result, I have just put the myself that I created to interact with people into the tubes as well. As I'm writing this, I'm scrolling through my best Reddit comments. This is reflective of when I talk to someone in person, and part of my mind is scrolling through things I previously said and judge myself relentlessly, but I digress. Most of my top-rate comments on Reddit are run of the mill sass. If I've made fun of you in person, you'll note that this is not abnormal, unlike that thing on your face. But what about the part where I talk about me, my personal life and experiences. These are things that I would share in person, if they came up in conversation. They came up on /r/AskReddit, so I shared them. The things that I say on Reddit are things that I would, and do say to actual people. If you were to read through my comment history (which you're totally not going to do, right?) you would have no doubt that it was written (as sometimes illustrated) by me. It would suffice to say that I'm the exact same person I am online as I am in real life.
Here's the issue: my top-rated comment (that shares my personal experience) is a lie. It is 100% not true. The comment right below that is 100% true, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about this lie that I posted on the internet that a net 977 absolute strangers found endearing, relatable, etc. The lie that I told in that comment is the same lie that I've told to actual people: to their face. Up until this paragraph, it would be safe to assume that I'm just as honest online as I am to your face. However, the opposite is more accurate. I am actually just as dishonest in real life as I am online. I tell a lot of people: "I lie a lot" and few actually take it seriously. I don't lie all the time; more often than not, I tell the truth and I make a point of doing so. But, when I do lie, it's usually to make things more interesting. They are lies that people want to believe. Hell, I want to believe them. When I'm sitting alone at home and I'm telling myself these stories, I have to remind myself what's true and what's not.
My life outside of the internet is a delicate balance of the stories I tell myself: mostly true, some not. My life inside the internet is exactly the same. I don't use anonymity to be a dick to everyone online because I'm not anonymous, and I'm a dick anyway.