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Old 06-30-2011, 12:59 AM   #1
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Who are we really?

I realize that this might be better placed in Zoo Station, but I'm really interested in discussing the ideas behind the film rather than the movie itself, and I think FYM is a good fit.

(Plus I can't be bothered to have it lost the "latest movie you've seen eleventy-one" thread). Hope the mods agree with me.

I just finished watching the movie Catfish and I was absolutely fascinated. I'm still not sure whether I buy that it's an actual documentary and not a Blair Witch style film, but either way it's a remarkable piece of film-making. Has anyone else seen it?

At any rate it raises the really interesting questions about the online image that we project of ourselves and how real it is. The character Angela in the film, if she's real, created a remarkable false image (including dozens of fake friends on Facebook). (If she's actually an actress, she's a good one because her performance felt very genuine, not a false note about it). It's especially interesting to me because like a lot of you I've spent quite a bit of time in this online community (over five years now), and I find it fascinating to consider how the "real" us and the FYM/Interference us differ, particularly since I feel like I "know" a lot of you, yet wouldn't recognize most of you if I passed you on the street.

So what do you think? Who are we really? Is the online image you project about the same as the "real" you or quite different.

Speaking for myself, I think I come across better online than I do in real life, but I don't know how much of that is intentional cultivation to burnish my image and how much is just a natural byproduct of being able to consider what you say, how you say it, etc.

Discuss friends/strangers!
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:09 AM   #2
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Very interesting topic, Sean. I'll come back to it later this afternoon. Short, I think I cultivate pretty much the same image online as I do in real life, but both are a good part image. That being said, I come across as much more patient online and much less passive-aggressive (and less funny and playful) than I am in real life.

More to follow.
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Old 06-30-2011, 08:56 AM   #3
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I have been meaning to see that movie-is it scary, like crime related type stuff?

I'm not into trying to project a certain image or that type of stuff. I am awkward and not self confident and not fake. I just want people to accept me for who I am. Any image I project is for self protection, since I guess all humans do do that to greater and lesser degrees.

I consider myself to be a "loner" and outsider type. I am not a follower or a group type of person who needs to be "popular" or needs or wants to be the center of attention and all that. I've never been that way. In real life I am very shy and guarded until I trust someone. Trusting is difficult. In many ways it can be very scary when people know too much about you, it feels way too vulnerable. Plus I just hate oversharing and overexposure and attention whoring. People who have mystery (in a positive sense) are much more appealing.

I'm old school. I'm not into Facebook or any of that type of stuff, I'm very leery and cynical of how much virtual reality has become "reality" in this world. I didn't grow up in that world and for me that's a very positive thing.

I actually feel like an alien around here lately because I am not seeing U2 and honestly I couldn't care less. I still like their music and I always will but I'm over it in so many ways. I think I'm just a different person, and I look at them differently too. Maybe because the mystery and having them more "to myself", before what they became what they are now, is gone. This forum is the only thing that keeps me coming back here.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:00 AM   #4
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Well you'd have to ask my friends but I try to stay true to myself. I use my real name/real "pet" name. I have zero 'net anonymity as I enter so many competitions with my dogs and all the catalogs/results are available online now so you can easily find my full name and address. Plus my name is unique (one of a kind) so if you Google me, you only get me. I don't really have the time or the creativity to create some sort of online alter-ego. I know at any given time my friends, family, bosses, etc can easily find every blog and forum I post on and most can see my Facebook so I do have to hold back somewhat. But...my name really is Lies and I do really like U2 and training German Shepherds.
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Old 06-30-2011, 02:49 PM   #5
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I tend to be shyer in real life, so to speak. The Internet is a good way for me to express myself in certain ways that I can't do in the real world.

Sometimes I do expose myself too much online, particularly on Interference. There are a few threads and postings I've made that I regret because I did show too much of myself to the whole world, basically. But, you move on.
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Old 06-30-2011, 05:05 PM   #6
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Haven't seen Catfish, but I've heard it described at some length by a relative who saw it. IIRC(?), it addresses one of the major ethical dilemmas of "the online persona," which is that the contrivances a person gets into might arguably be harmless or even net-beneficial for him/her--welcome release from certain real-life limitations which aren't necessarily in your power to change, for example--yet at the same time, there's this problem where you're knowingly exploiting the trust and (shared) social neediness of others by inventing or omitting "traits" you couldn't or wouldn't in real life. Is that more or less accurate as a description? It is an interesting question, and more broadly, there are related interesting issues concerning whether and when "creative" "self"-presentation is also bad for the person doing it, what it is we're looking for when we cultivate relationships with real-life strangers online and how that differs from our real-life social needs and expectations, and so on.

Personally...I do assume I benefit socially when online, because of the writing-based nature of the medium--I suck at speaking extemporaneously, even on casual topics, and have considerable difficulty holding both my words and my thoughts together in a way that's never been a problem for me in writing. I tend to attribute this primarily to the fact that I stuttered badly until about age 12 or so (still occasionally do, when alarmed or rushed) and "never fully got over it," though I'm sure the reality is more complicated than that. In real life, I cope with this through a mixture of holding silent in conversations until I've had time to mentally prepare a "statement," which makes me come across quite reserved, plus keeping a stockpile of well-rehearsed mental scripts ready for situations or topics that come up often, which makes my thinking come across more analytical than it actually is.

On the downside (for me, anyway), I'm pretty sure I do come across considerably sterner and more serious online--in real life I do lots of impersonations and mock-neurotic fits, neither of which translate well online without undue effort; on the upside, no one gets to see how bad my temper can be in real life (my kids divide my moments into four reporting categories--Kinda Mad, Just-Mad, Super Mad, and Super Super Mad--the latter two of which usually involve not eruptions at people, but what one of my brothers wryly terms our family propensity for "inarticulate rage at inanimate objects").

One thing I do like about online socializing, at least longer-form formats like forums, is that in some ways you really are more open to individual complexity than we are in real life: a little less likely to automatically slot someone into some coolly-received social category never to be taken seriously again, a little more likely to catch and follow up on the spark of that moment where you glimpse in some passing comment something which fascinates or excites or intrigues you. Although, to return to our starting point, this does come with the risk that much of what surrounds that spark may be deceptive and misleading in ways that wouldn't elude you in real life.

I'm not much on Facebook or other social networking tools, though less because of philosophical concerns about authenticity or exhibitionism or any of that than because of my grumpy-pissy impatience with the extent of banality you have to slog though to keep your social capital up.
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Old 06-30-2011, 05:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsSpringsteen View Post
I have been meaning to see that movie-is it scary, like crime related type stuff?
It's not. I don't know how you'd interpret how it ends up, but my response was less "ooh that is sick and twisted" and more "oh, that is really sad and a little disturbing."

No violence or anything remotely close to that. The key character is really quite brilliant when you think about it, she just put it to use in an unfortunate way.

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But...my name really is Lies and I do really like U2 and training German Shepherds.
Lies (and her husband) are the only Interference regulars that I've met in real life--at the Chicago show in September 2009--and I enjoyed meeting them. I heard I just missed corianderstem that day, which is a shame. At any rate, by that time I'd "known" Lies and Phil for a number of years, since before they were married and we'd been talking a lot here in Interland about dog issues. It was kind of surreal, because here's this person I've never met but yet we just picked up talking about my dog, carrying on the online conversation in real time. It was the strangest feeling, but good. Hopefully we'll meet up in Chicago next week again.

Like you, Lies, I tend to be pretty open about who I "really" am online. My blog is available to pretty much anyone, and I tend to be a pretty open person in general. I know that not everyone here in FYM is that way though, and I respect that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearl View Post
I tend to be shyer in real life, so to speak. The Internet is a good way for me to express myself in certain ways that I can't do in the real world.

Sometimes I do expose myself too much online, particularly on Interference. There are a few threads and postings I've made that I regret because I did show too much of myself to the whole world, basically. But, you move on.
I've done that only a few times, but yeah, you move on.

I find that I'm a lot more willing to argue aggressively here than I am in real life. In real life, I tend to dislike confrontation and will go to great lengths to avoid it. Here, I have no compunctions about say getting snarky with INDY500 I don't think I would do that in a real life situation unless I knew the person really, really well and knew they could take the ribbing. I imagine I'm not alone in that, as a lot of people tend to be more "aggressive" online than they would be ordinarily. In a way, I wonder if a community like this could exist and last in the real world.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:47 PM   #8
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Spending time lately reflecting on all things therapeutic, I'm fascinated by the notion that we are only ever partly ourselves. Whenever we meet someone new, we tend to project on them all our previous interactions and established social norms and relationships, to test whether this person is the same as the people we've met previously. It helps us fit people into particular "slots." As a result, we "are" other people...or at least, the summary of others people's projections of us.

I'm particularly sensitive to that here in Interference, where people carry those same presumptions and assumptions. They can be even more biting behind a veil of avatars and presumed anonymity. I fear sometimes people say things to and about others that they would never be bold enough to say when looking into those people's eyes. (I'm not sure that's necessarily a good or bad thing.)
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Old 06-30-2011, 07:07 PM   #9
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Sean, I often have similar experiences. "Meet" someone online, talk about similar interests for a while...then finally meet that person in real life and it's like nothing is really all that different, the conversations just continue. Especially b/c of U2, I've had multiple situations where I find myself sharing a backpacking tent with someone I've only just met in real life hours before, but it's not weird at all.....

I "met" someone on a dog forum a while back, found out she lives a few miles away, invited her to come train with out club, and now we're getting tattoos together this weekend, haha! Normally when I meet someone either online or in real life, it doesn't take me long to decide whether I can get along with that person or not.

I don't really spend a lot of time trying to figure people out, on the computer screen or in front of my face. I'm not a "read between the lines" person. If someone seems too complicated or has too much baggage or we have zero common interests I just move on. Not to say they are a bad person, but I'm not one that tries really hard to make or keep friends.
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Old 06-30-2011, 07:16 PM   #10
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Whenever we meet someone new, we tend to project on them all our previous interactions and established social norms and relationships, to test whether this person is the same as the people we've met previously. It helps us fit people into particular "slots." As a result, we "are" other people...or at least, the summary of others people's projections of us.

I'm particularly sensitive to that here in Interference, where people carry those same presumptions and assumptions. They can be even more biting behind a veil of avatars and presumed anonymity.
I guess that could be the flipside to the somewhat greater openness I was talking about earlier: that if it's in some ways easier to find moments of connection online with people you probably wouldn't take the time on in real life, it's also easier to reduce someone to a partisan caricature and treat them accordingly. I'm not sure though how similar that really is to the real-life situation of (for example) carrying baggage from one's relationship to a parent with whom you're still problematically psychically engaged into your adult romantic relationships, because those re-creations aren't conscious, whereas when you're sitting there sneering at someone's post and thinking "Uh-huh, yeah, I know exactly what type of asshole you are, buddy" and responding to them in that spirit, that's the result of a conscious judgment. If I'm understanding the kind of projecting you're talking about correctly.
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:55 PM   #11
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On the internet I'm a Teaparty Christian but in reality I'm a Bush-hating, anti-capitalist, Muslim lesbian living in Damascus.
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:21 PM   #12
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In 'real life', I am probably less argumentative. People who know me only casually would probably see me as a fairly quiet person who does not waste words and does not excel in the small talk department. That said, my argumentative streak can manifest in 'real life', particularly with close friends, sometimes to an extent that gets me in minor trouble - e.g. arguing vociferously over some political issue where it's not really appropriate in the context, and I am politely asked to tone it down

I guess I have borderline social autism, though in my defense I am capable of laughing at my quirks.

I tend to think personality is to an extent situational and the introvert/extrovert dichotomy is largely confidence driven. I tend to dislike people that are not passionate about things, or that pretend to enjoy social conventions that are boring. I would rather have a conversation with someone that disagrees with every proposition I set forth than with someone who has no opinion, or meekly goes along with everything I say. Paradoxically and no doubt hypocritically, I tend to dislike shyness as a character trait in others. There may be some deeper psychological truth here. In any case, while shyness is forgiveable, I actively try to avoid the company of people that I don't consider intelligent or interesting. I find it easier to forgive pretentiousness than dullness and in general, I enjoy the company of people that are good conversationalists, broad-minded, argumentative, opiniated and with a broad range of interests - which is why I gravitate towards FYM, as there is a higher percentile of those types here than elsewhere!
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs Springsteen
I'm old school. I'm not into Facebook or any of that type of stuff, I'm very leery and cynical of how much virtual reality has become "reality" in this world. I didn't grow up in that world and for me that's a very positive thing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yolland
I'm not much on Facebook or other social networking tools, though less because of philosophical concerns about authenticity or exhibitionism or any of that than because of my grumpy-pissy impatience with the extent of banality you have to slog though to keep your social capital up.
Isn't scepticism about social media, for those of us in our mid to late thirties or forties, partially a generational thing? I'm closer to forty than thirty at this stage and I tend to think of sites like Facebook and Twitter as kids' stuff. When I hear of politicians setting up Twitter accounts to reach out to 'the youth' or whatever, my opinion of them tends to go downhill. I looked at Twitter a few times, and it seemed to be the most immature garbage to me.
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:07 AM   #14
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^ Oh, absolutely that's part of it. I've had the experience in recent years of leading students abroad, and I'll be psyching myself up for it by remembering the bugeyed fever-pitch tizzy myself and my fellow exchange students were in that first day in Bombay twenty years ago and mentally preparing myself for a roomful of that--only to find out that all these students are preoccupied with is the fact that their cell phones aren't working right, so they haven't been able to call Mom and Dad yet. At which I'm thinking, Are you kidding me? You're nineteen and out in the world on your own with your peers, you chose this experience--cut the *@#% umbilical cord and jump into it! So yeah, it's a whole different mindset towards social connections, and it does often read like saying something for the sake of saying something aka tedium to me.

Then again, try explaining to your parents that some of your favorite people to discuss social and political issues with are anonymous fans of some rock band on some internet forum!
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:04 AM   #15
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I'm back. I don't think I calculate an online persona, but I do compartmentalize. I'm probably not the same misanthrope here as I can be ( in spite of liking some people very much both here and in real life.)

I'm pretty sure if you knew me in real life, you'd recognize me from my online persona.
I'm not particularly open either place (although I will give the impression I am), but I'm fundamentally honest about what I do reveal. I'm open about my flaws, my shortcomings, my cruelties. (People think I am very open because of that) But I do not show my vulnerabilities anywhere.

You'll get a good picture of me, but not a complete one. (not that we get a complete picture of anyone here or there) I'm not particularly spontaneous. Everything goes through a filter before it comes out. I'm not overly chatty, but I can go through a caffeine-laden annoying talking jag early in the morning.

Like Sean noted, I'm more measured here because I have time to think about what I am saying and edit it, a double filter. I read a lot of people's posts here closely (and skim over a lot of others) and those I read closely, I remember what they said in the past and notice if I think something doesn't match. So I will ponder what is going on there--change in thought, some misdirection? Unfortunately (or fortunately) I have almost no memory of a lot of my own posts, no matter how carefully I wrote them so if people bothered, I'm sure I could get caught in a few "gotcha" situations.

I take a back seat here. I mostly sit back and listen. But my ego doesn't allow me to take the back seat as much in real life. I'm offbeat and prefer the offbeat. I like to take people off in different directions. I think people find me pleasingly odd and don't mind getting taken on that ride. Mainstream bores me. I like the subcultures. But I've learned not to romanticize them, or to romanticize much of anything. But I'm comfortable enough with convention that I can move in that world easily enough. I'm bored with politics, don't put much faith in politics, the court system, the corporate world. I trust individuals (not "the individual" as some ideologues would have it, but specific individuals and not groups) I've happily lost my ideology along the way. I'm a storyteller in real life, not so much on line.

I've got an ego, but I'm not particularly narcissistic. I don't spend much time worrying about what people think about me. I've got enough concern thinking about what I think of myself. I worry about pleasing me. The older I've gotten, the less guilt I feel, the less someone can manipulate me. (I can still be manipulated, but much less). I try to be fair; I try to be kind; I try to be honest and I try to control my temper. I figure that's all anyone can really expect from me. Sometimes I fall short.

There are a lot of boring things about me. A lot of thought patterns and tedious behaviors I keep hidden. To me, boring is a crime. So if I have to hide parts of myself or tweak (I'm not above tweaking) to make it interesting. When I was in high school, my creative writing teacher told me I could make people laugh or cry over the contents of an aspritin bottle. At first, wanting to be a SERIOUS ARTIST, I was a little offended. Once I stopped taking myself seriously, I considered it high praise. I have a low boredom threshhold, so if someone bores me, I will not relate to them for very long. If I keep in some kind of contact with you, you can be absolutely assured that I don't find you boring.

I'm not confrontational, but I'm not afraid of confrontation either. I pick my battles. I find someone will eventually say what I was going to say here, so I don't have to. I am lazy. No surprise to anyone who knows me well.
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