This quote - sharp, revealing and concise - captures everything I love about Twitter… and with what it says, it captures everything I hate about the social internet.
I started blogging when that meant updating a notepad file with HTML and text, so I went through the agony and anxiety of notice me, notice me, approve of me - online during early adolescence. As I grew and as the possibilities of internet presence expanded into Geocities, Xanga, Makeoutclub(!), I saw how undignified this approach looked on others and I slowly left it behind. I found a new way to embarrass myself as my subtext became, in less than 140 characters, Get the f*** away from me. I don’t need your attention and I will capture it and then alienate you to prove my point.
In case any of you are verging into this needlessly complex and reactionary territory, I’d urge you to find another path.
Because here is the real problem for those of us aware of our place on the spectrum of online self-consciousness: Social media demands that we find our brand and we stick to it, whether that brand involves entertaining, educating, or alienating, and it is fundamentally anti-human to do so.
I’m tired of being one person (or a series of people, as I try to find one that “sticks”) online and another “in real life”. To create a personal brand is to deny real expression and real connections, and it creates a rift in our self-defined identity. When we look back at our timelines, archives, and histories, we see someone - or something - else looking back at us. Each of us has a best that changes with every moment, yet even capturing that fleeting best and preserving it online would not yield such an inflexible, demanding, and destabilizing version of our selves.
It’s time to engage with the internet as human beings, with the intelligent thought and social intent that only humans are capable of. I’m still figuring out exactly what that means.