The more I track the differences between these notorious “online” and “offline” personalities (both my friends’ and my own), the more I question myself who, as a matter of fact, is whose reflection. Have not we irremissibly reduced the correlation to some unpardonable primitives of juxtaposing the “Real” and the “Virtual” in ourselves, simplifying the understanding, but leading it entirely astray?
Can not it by any chance be that Me-the-Real is already a reflection of Me-the-Fake, of someone reigning behind the screen since the first time I ever plunged into the World Torrent?
This might really seem indolent talk, had not the eternal philosophic question of “What is reality?” been at stake. To the unsophisticated observer the answer is evident, but is the solution so close to the surface as it seems?
Should we inspect the matter a bit deeper, we will definitely realize: it is quite awkward to assert, which of the two “me’s” is more genuine. We could go further than that by pulling the question totally inside-out: “What should, after all, be recognized as the “real life”?” Who keeps us from stating that a real life is “where one realizes to the full all his/her ideas, aspirations, desires, dreams”?
In this perspective, can I say that my blog establishes my personal rules of what to discuss, how to discuss, with whom to discuss, when to discuss? Yes, undoubtedly.
Can I, on the other hand, affirm that my everyday communication grants me the same choice? The reply is negative, for I am obliged to comply with a set of social conventions.
Therefore, I am supposedly more “free” behind the screen. I am the Creator of Myself-the-Real: on these pages I am but assembling what would not be allowed otherwise. Contrariwise to what is taken for granted, the virtual character turns out to be the purest psychological portrait of Me-the-Authentic. It is more than probable that what is considered “character invention” is the real man, but oppressed by the social weight. May be I would be different, had not it been for offline constrictions? Who knows, may be I am a much greater pretender when I am sitting in front of you tippling wine from a precious goblet in a fashionable cafe?
There is, therefore, no problem in claiming that any virtual identity but complements to the offline one (or/and vice versa). Only in a more structured way. And, to put it analogically, the virtual character can be perceived the same way as were treated the revolutionary newspapers like “Père DuChêne” (France) or the Leninist “Pravda” and “Iskra”. The blog personality is sort of an individual PR-loudhailer, a systematized presentation of what takes place offline.
With the only two differences that there was no Internet in those times (“Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication!” comes immediately to my mind) and that, as we have mentioned some lines earlier, every individual now has his own voice.
Consequently, there is no opposition between the real and virtual lives: both are extensions of one another.
11 December 2008. – Moscow (Russia)