Sarcasm, Silliness and Online Personas: How Much Should You Present The “Real You”?

Aiming to present myself as a confident, capable adult, I asked a photographer friend of mine to take a few pictures of me in a jacket and heels. I changed my twitter picture. A friend commented, “I think you need a different profile pic. That one makes you look all ordinary and happy and shit.” I changed my picture to one of me wearing a pirate hat, eye patch and moustache. I changed my name to Captain Kate. I chuckled. I thought, “nice try pretending to be a grown-up.”

This year one of my resolutions has been to take my writing more seriously. I added an About page on this blog and started posting more regularly. I’m working up to submitting a couple of guest posts to blogs I admire. I write about some of the things I’m working on in my life: discovering what’s important, getting rid of the stuff that isn’t and aiming to become happier.

Only, I’m struggling to reconcile all of the aspects of my personality and interests as I write.  I worry that it’s all coming across as a bit earnest, and that isn’t me at all. I’m messy, quite often grumpy, pretty sarcastic and ridiculously silly a lot of the time. In fact, the silliness got so bad that my boyfriend and I had to introduce a baby-talk jar in our kitchen for when we started talking to each other like toddlers. When we did, we added money to the baby-talk jar, which eventually got shortened to the baby jar and caused misunderstanding whenever it was mentioned in front of friends.

After asking Adam to take some grown-up professional photos of me, I spent the afternoon pulling stupid faces, pretended to eat a fir cone and then tried to climb a tree wearing heels.

Image

Some of these were kindly posted on Facebook. Somebody commented on the fir cone one: ” Ah! The Kate we all love.” I’ve been publicly outed twice in the last week: perhaps I need to step up and own this weirdness.

Flippancy aside, I think the question of how much we reveal about ourselves online is an interesting one. When we’re being told to present our best selves to prospective employers who are reading our twitter feeds, how much of your chaotic, drunken neurotic self do you express? After all, you do behave differently in the office than you do with your friends. Is social media breaking down these boundaries? The wonderful thing about the internet is that you can meet people from all over the world, and the only way to make friends is by being open and honest about who you are, in all your wonderful kookiness.

My mum criticises social media because people over share. But I think that’s an amazing thing – that people feel able (albeit sometimes anonymously) to lay themselves bare in a public space. To share their hopes, fears, fantasies, drunken photos and descriptions of their vomit the following morning. Okay, you might not want to hear about everything, but isn’t it great that people aren’t embarrassed to share it with the world?

So perhaps I shouldn’t feel awkward about wanting to climb trees or commandeer a ship after all.

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2 thoughts on “Sarcasm, Silliness and Online Personas: How Much Should You Present The “Real You”?

  1. Interesting. Pretty pictures 🙂

    You know when the people on my friends’ list post their drunk pictures, or their new sun glasses, tattoos and all, it often seems to me that they are flaunting too much. Especially in the pictures that are self-clicked. I especially hate it when my best friend posts a picture of us doing something cool like ice skating, but unfortunately I end up looking stupid in that picture while she looks perfect. So she has all the motivation in the world to post it online.

    I’m yet to decide on whether I should post nice pictures of me and my boyfriend on Facebook. What do you think? Would it be considered as too much flaunting? 😛

  2. Hi Nithya. Thanks for commenting.

    I think people are always going to try and present their best selves on social media (indeed as they do in real life), especially when it comes to posting photos of themselves. If you want to post pictures of you and your boyfriend online I think you should. Some people might consider it flaunting (I wouldn’t) but ultimately you can’t please everyone, only do what’s right for you. Likewise, if you’d rather not share the photos, don’t think you have to just because everyone else is doing the same.

    Hope you manage to find a solution you’re happy with.

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