Social Media Masks

Since 2003(ish) I've been a citizen of the internet. My first memories of being online and talking to other people was on AIM - AOL Instant Messenger. Throwback, eh? It was mostly a contained space, since all of the people I spoke to I had added from school. Very shortly after that though I discovered Yahoo! chat rooms, where I spoke to all kinds of strangers from all over the world. I seriously should've been monitored back then, but my parent's didn't know any better. In these chat rooms I never revealed my true identity, and carried on as someone of a different age and name. 

After that period I started playing a lot of online video games. I played some random games for a couple of years, but then it was mostly World of Warcraft for quite a long time. I played as characters of all kinds of fantastical races, genders, ages, etc. I revealed my real name and age to very few people. 

Now I'm at a time where I don't troll around anonymously on chat rooms anymore or play online games. Instead, I have what everyone else has - social media accounts. This is so difference from my history on the internet. Your name and picture is slapped on a screen for everyone to see. No anonymity. No pseudonyms. However, I think there is still a lot of overlap. 

I find that so many people are very curatorial of what they put online. They mostly post the most positive and happy moments. Pictures of happy selfies on the beach, of a purchase of a new car, perhaps they're sharing a personal memory of a relative who just passed. It's a skewed version of their true selves. 

You could make an argument that these folks are wearing an internet persona - just like when I used to play online games, and was not revealing my true self. On the internet, everyone is wearing a mask of some kind.