We Are Cartographers Jan 21, 2010
One of the interesting things about the internet, and the basic reason for the popularity of social-networking facilitators like Facebook is that it creates the illusion of a total control over identity and self-presentation. On a message board, in a chat room, on Facebook, you control what you say. You have the time to calculate it carefully. You can choose what photos people see. You can choose what words convey your meanings. You can make lists of interests and hobbies and ideas that make up a carefully templated version of yourself.

This is not possible in real life. In real life you are awkward when talking to people. In real life you stumble over words or say the wrong thing under pressure. When you meet someone in real life, they don't already know that you love Band of Horses or that you've seen Gone Baby Gone like ten times. Relationships take time in real life. On the internet they can be instantaneous.

The weird thing about internet relationships is that I don't think most people realize how much those things you don't control make up what people like about you. All the things that we want to hide in real life but can't are sometimes the things that are most endearing about us when seen from the outside. The bad angles we would never allow to show up in a profile pic, the mispronunciation of words we think we know, the way we don't always have our philosophical ideals worked out completely until we say them out loud. We want total control over our identities, but total control is inhuman.

And of course, it can work both ways, which is why so many internet relationships fail after meeting in real life.

And then there's the big question: is there really a separate "real life" from the internet anymore? Some of us are old enough to remember how things worked before you could show everyone who you were in a one-page profile. But that's not the case anymore.

Anyway...end rant.