How has your online persona changed during your NoSurf journey?


#1

With online personas, I kind of mean the kind of person we are online and the impression we make on others.
I am curious if the way you present yourself online has changed, or the differences between the full you and the glimpse we get via your online persona.


In my opinion, our online versions of ourselves almost always differ from the real ones because there is a lot we hold back on online. Of course, if you’re one of those people that hold nothing back and post about everything, that is not the case. But the way we act also changes depending on the platform and topic. For example, certain acts of responsibility online (ex. Being a mod) require a certain way of acting appropriately and professionally, or the topic of a group or forum is a set one so we don’t know much about the people besides their life in the context of the topic. If someone in their journal here is really successful, it is easy to think they must be very successful in general or have an easy life, but their relationship problems might not make it into the journals because it is private or not related to the topic.

I think in my case, my online persona nowadays differs not only because of past responsibilities online but also because I try to be formal and neutral to strangers online. If I know people better (so it’s not about presenting yourself online but communicating online as friends) that changes. I think the formality of it all an be a stark contrast to the ‘real’ private me, almost bland, maybe sometimes too educational instead of personal. I know personally I can be rather blunt, direct, and vulgar. I think it’s culturally even worse, because there’s often this coldness and directness assigned to Germans by other cultures (in my experience, especially Americans) but it feels like the default to me, so the added bluntness that evokes a wide eyed gaspy laugh from my German friends followed by “well, you’re right” might be coming across as a crass asshole to Non-Germans. And I can hold back swearing in writing if I want to but I can’t do that while talking.

And in my NoSurf journey, I feel like lots of online use and exposure to people who hold nothing back influenced me to be very negative and provocative, and this Wild West feeling of online arguments made it worse. Limiting that brought back the expected common courtesy and neutrality for strangers that is already taking place in real life. It’s different to be having to softly criticize a stranger than a long known friend, and I personally felt like some elements of online culture made it socially acceptable to completely drag strangers as if they were a long term best friend.

What about you?


#2

Personally I never posted much about myself online, and when I did it would be on niche forums/subreddits where you wouldn’t know who the user was form the user name.

I would usually try and be very neutral and constructive in my comments/posts where possible, but in real life I’m much more personal than my posts (however I’ve tried to be more open and honest on this site, but the loss of anonymity in terms of giving my first name is still kind of scary), and like you say it can make things seem quite dull sometimes.

I think I often had the tendency to be overly positive about my life, or overly negative, depending on my mood and how I wanted people to view me (view me as succeeding vs wanting them to feel sorry for me). I’m definitely trying to address this in how I journal here, as I have a tendency to slide towards a negative outlook and view of myself, but something that I try keep in mind is that if you think/say something enough then you will start to believe it, so its important to not be overly negative or give to much weight to thoughts when you are in a bad mood. Trying to stay in reality and show the actual balance between the good and the bad, and your true thoughts on it, can seem a bit contradicting at time (maybe your actual thoughts/situation isn’t that bad, but making them come off as worse makes your story better and makes people more receptive, and vice versa, as opposed to the truth which is just a whole lot of grey areas which people can’t really take a side on, and which is less entertaining).


#3

My online persona before NoSurf
It’s kind of hard to remember for me. One thing I remember is that I was a bit of a debater. I would often go into spaces where people were saying things that didn’t make sense to me and then I’d provide many counter examples to their strange beliefs. If someone did the same to a space I called “home”, I would debate them too. Often times I was successful (i.e. they resorted to name calling because I was always right/logical :slightly_smiling_face:)! In addition to that, I would try to be a kind of “saviour” for people often. Sounds like a good use of time but it was actually pretty stressful (like the debating was). I can only influence someone so much through a screen. Eventually I realized that it’d probably be better to use my energy to help myself more and those I’m in direct contact with.

My online persona after NoSurf
Definitely not debating so much anymore but I think I still try to play “saviour” a bit too often. It’s good to help others, I just have to be realistic sometimes. I’ve also noticed that I’ve become more empathic towards a wider range of people and issues but I’m not sure why.

Online vs Offline me
Online version of me has always been braver than the offline version. I’m sure I’ve said things online that would get me beat up in real life but since it’s online I didn’t have to worry about that. Online version of me is more personal (soft?). I don’t hide these things when I’m offline, it’s just that personal matters just don’t come up often in conversations.


#4

This is an interesting question!
@omeleteeto I like the way you formatted your post, so I’m going to steal it and I hope you don’t mind.

My online persona before NoSurf
My online persona before quitting Facebook was fairly open, vulnerable and emotional – but I think these things were showing up online as a result of insecurities. They were more like pleas to be understood, since I have never really felt like I fit in (even offline) and my Facebook posts were being used to feel out who was interested in the same things as me. It really wasn’t healthy. I did get in arguments from time to time, mostly with people who I disagreed with morally, or politically. These arguments were never fruitful, never made any meaningful change, and I always felt bad and embarrassed afterward, because the arguments often spiraled off onto topics that I didn’t want to address.

My online persona after NoSurf
I will always be authentic and emotionally engaged no matter if I’m online or offline, because it’s who I am. So I will still share my excitement or sadness about things, but I am much more protective about how I do it. Everything I post online is authentic to my experience, but I leave out the details. As far as arguments, I do not engage in internet arguments, because I believe they are pointless. I also don’t engage in name-calling or responding to provocative or button-pushing posts, although I do sometimes play the Devil’s Advocate. :smiling_imp: If I feel my ego acting up (i.e. I want to respond to an upsetting/stupid post by saying something mean, or taking someone down a notch), I take a deep breath and walk away from my computer.

Online vs offline me
There used to be a much larger difference between the online and offline me, but now they are incredibly similar. The way I handle arguments on the Internet is now in line with how I handle them in person: I do not engage in arguments with strangers, acquaintances, or even friends. I love to have discussions on varying issues with those who disagree with me, but I will only have those conversations with people who understand how discussions work. Also, I always try to be as kind, appreciative and polite as possible, and I avoid drama offline and online. It’s hard to tell what someone’s really going through, and judging them through a screen (or by a random encounter at Costco or downtown) is hazardous.


#5

I’m just gonna admit it. I’m almost a completely different person online than I am in person. In fact I probably have like an Online Multiple Personality Disorder. I can’t say for sure, but that’s just my guess. I wish I can go into more detail but there’s a lot to cover.


#6

I used to have all sorts of social media accounts, write and share stuff, I had a Twitter where I tried to increase my number of followers. I think I topped at pity 350+ and then it hit me.

Basically, I got rid of my online persona.
First, i deleted all my accounts altogether and reverted to e-mail only mode. Later, I readjusted a little because some of my friends are better accessible via social websites, so I figured using vk and fb as messengers only is not much different from emailing.

Currently, I never post or share anything anymore. My social media accounts are merely messenger placeholders, to keep in touch with a couple of close people. Very rarely I post here. Even more rarely i post on another message board. That’s basically it.

Every person active on social media has that Online Multiple Personality Disorder. I try to minimize/get rid of it. My empty accounts aren’t my avatars. Like with mobile texts. It’s me who texts, and it’s me who sends those fb messages, not some online persona.


#7

It’d would be interesting if we could somehow measure how many of these persona changes are actually due to “us” changing mentally or if they are simply the result of us no longer using platforms that are designed to make us behave in a certain way.

Which begs the question, where these personas we had online really our own? Or where they engineered into us by the platforms we used?

For example: the behavior you see that occurs repetitively on Instagram or Reddit.

Are these really people’s personas? Or are the personas that social media wants them to have?

Is the persona change caused by that person consciously choosing to change themselves? Or has the lack of contact with these platforms allowed people to return to a normal “human” persona?