let's talk: public privacy - the online identity.


I've had an online identity since I was in my preteen days - I'm pretty sure that there are some of you that wouldn't recognise the dial-up tone and the struggle of not being able to use the internet because someone was on the phone. Yeah, those were the fossil days. So it's not an exaggeration to say that I have a relatively strong online presence. Even to this day, I have a couple of other online personas outside of this blog. 

However, most people that know me in real life don't have a clue about online Daphne outside of Facebook. Or even if they do, they know I have a blog. They might know that it's mostly about makeup. But that's it. I can count the number of people that can pinpoint where this blog is on the world wide web. My other identity? I'm sure only two other people know about it. 

It never occurred to me that I consciously keep my online identity away from the people that know me in real life - even away from the people that I trust and love. It wasn't until the day I was literally chasing my friend, S, around the room, tackling him onto the bed to wrestle my other friend, M's phone out of his hand, and further, having a death grip on M's laptop as we did a whole action movie sequence on the sofa, complete with the rolling around and upper gut jabs, with the more lighthearted tickling torture peppered in. All this was just so he wouldn't continue going through the Google results that were pulling up the 'less private' bits of my online identity. 

"It's all public, Daphne. Stop struggling." Yes, I know it's all public and that he could have easily gone back to his room to go through Google again and discover this blog, twitter, instagram, and my other online presence. I'm not that quiet about who I am online - I use my real name, I identify which city I'm located at, I sometimes abuse the geotag function on instagram. I'm not quiet about my identity online, but I'm private about the public identity I've built online. 

There's a certain freedom that comes with the internet. I'm honest about who I am online and I've built several friendship networks through the internet, some have even translated to the real world. I have no problem translating the virtual world into real life, so why do I find it a struggle for people who know me in real life finding out who I am online? 

People who know me in real life know that I struggle with expressing emotions. Strike that. I struggle with emotions. I don't know what I'm feeling most of the time. I have the default mode of happiness, indifference, or anger. It's rare that I display any other emotion outside the above mentioned. This has a lot to do with my upbringing, but I'm not going to go into that for reasons. Emotions, to me, is my private life. So that's what it is, it's private. But I don't mean it in a way that I want people to stay out of it. It's more like emotions are a part of me that I don't like to share with people until I know I can trust them completely - and even then, it's hard for me to entirely open up. For me, emotions aren't just about feelings; it's who I am as a person, it's what I enjoy in my private time, it's the words that I choose to express myself with, it's what I think about the people that are around me, it's the way I gush about those that are important to me. 

For some stupid and illogical reason, I always automatically think that people will judge me when they see who I am online - an identity that is, essentially, who I am as a person. A side of me that most people in my life don't know about - the secret aspirations, the hope that refuses to be crushed by reality, the romantic inside. It's almost paradoxical how the most private side of me is published on the most public platform. I don't mind it when the people I know in real life find out about it during their own time, I'd just rather not know about the reactions - even if, let's be honest, it's usually a positive outcome from the people that I care most about. 

S and I came to the compromise of me showing him my Pinterest page. I initially thought that it would be the safest solution - it was literally just a virtual corkboard. Nothing compromising would be on there - until he pointed out that I had a section dedicated to wedding dresses and venues. Now normally, this wouldn't be considered anything too damaging, but I don't talk about anything romantic in real life. I don't do 'wedding talks' and 'future families'. I consider S to be one of the rare people I completely trust, but at that moment, I knew that I was bracing myself for judgment. It is slightly morbid, how I can act so detached in life, when little things like this matter so much to me. 

S spent more time than I was comfortable with (read: more than 2 seconds) going through my Pinterest page, during which I was curled up on the furthest corner away from him on the couch, trying to block out the small commenting noises he was making. He finally closed the page and handed M back her phone before concluding that 'it's really cool to have something to collect all your inspiration sources' and that it was really interesting to see a side of me that wasn't often expressed in real life. You'd think positive reinforcement would make me less fiercely protective of my online identity, but till now, I still brace myself when people mention that they've found me on the internet. So if you're reading this and I know you in real life, please don't tell me you've read this. I like my corner to be private, even if it is public for the whole world to read. 

It's liberating to have a place where you can be yourself, not fearing judgement from the people you know and care about. It's a kind of public privacy that'll allow you social interaction in the rawest form of honesty. I'm quite good at segregating my online identity away from real life - and quite honest, I'd rather keep things this way for the near future. Some people are very open about their online presence, and then there are people like me. The internet is a funny one, a tool that can be utilised to completely hide and revamp yourself, but it can also be a place where you can be your brutally honest self, a freedom that isn't often available in real life. I'm curious, are you someone that smudges the line between the internet and real life, or do you like to keep things apart? 
With Love, 
Daphne x