Saturday, November 12, 2016

Virtual Patrick

Homo Digitalis stalks the cybernetic steppe, sling and sack of emojis tied to his canvas belt.  Winter is mounting in the land of Facebook.  Likes are scarce, and reactions are even harder to come by.  Digitalis halts at a river, furtively scanning his folders for the right image to offer up to the gods.  He finds it, throws it into the rushing water, and waits.

For many living in the developed world, there lies a division between Homo Commonus and Home Digitalis.  One reflects who we show ourselves to be in common, unplugged interactions, while the other reflects who we present ourselves to be in the digital realm.  Neither person can completely capture who we are at our core, in our fabric of being, but both can reveal parts of that complex material.

"Two Worlds"
Deception is a common vice for both Commonus and Digitalis.  Sometimes it isn't even a deliberate action.  We as humans lie about ourselves or manipulate our personages constantly for various reasons.  Perhaps we wish to impress someone or appease an argumentative combatant.  Usually, these are small deceptions, and they do not go so far as to truly bear false witness against one's neighbors.  But they can.  These deceptions can destroy one's relationships both with others and with oneself; however, often we get away with these deceptions.  This feat can be achieved with Homo Commonus, and many do pull the wool over a multitude of eyes.  It is Homo Digitalis, on the other hand, who gets the bad rap.  Through social media, we can become who we wish to be, no matter how far it is removed from who we really are.  Through social media, we can live two or three or tens of different li(v)es.

There is a distinct difference between a li(f)e and a persona.  In my online workings, I aim to stay true to myself, while allowing for a few personas.  These personas take some aspects of my "self" and run with them.  We as human beings are wildly complex.  Could we show all of ourselves online anyway?  Most people never see the full breadth of our "selves" from Homo Commonus even over years of contact, not because we are hiding pieces from them, but simply because there are so many pieces to see.

My Twitter persona is probably my most distinctive.  On Twitter, I am a professional, a member of the field of creative writing.  I am also a low-key musician, blogger, and Digital Humanist.  Most of the time, it's about business.  I can reply to my friends' tweets in a more personal manner, yet it is still the professional aspect of myself who is being developed by these interactions.  Politics are especially taboo for my Twitter persona (though that is not the case for many writers out there).

A cover spread I once retweeted

On Instagram, I'm mostly absent.  When I'm present, I'd like to think that I'm kinda suave.  I haven't gone out of my way to show a particularly-suave image of my "self;" I don't go that far.  There are simply very few photos and videos that I feel the need to share, and these happen to be some of my suavier ones.

In the blogging world, I'm just a guy trying to contribute to my field.  I'm a little bit more personable than I am on Twitter, and I allow my less-typical, arguably scatter-brained or quirky (see the first paragraph of this post) aspects have a little light.

On Facebook, I show the widest slice of my "self."  I reveal personal details, engage in occasional political discourse, promote my artistic and professional endeavors, and try to maintain a decent level of suavacitude.  (That's totally a word.)  My Facebook profile is my oldest and most open account.

My Facebook profile picture (and Senior yearbook photo)

I cannot say that I am free of all deceptions, both as Commonus and Digitalis.  They are both human, remember.  My goal, however, is to always stay true to my "self" even in the digital world.  I may have different personas across different platforms, but all of them are me, just different pieces of me.

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