Who am I?
It’s a question I’m sure everybody has asked themselves at some point in time. When we’re unsure of where we are going, or why we have done something. It’s a question that is completely valid to ask, it’s only natural to be introspective. Unfortunately there is no valid answer.
To explain who a person is in a sentence, a word, or even at all, is impossible. No person is so simple. Yet we constantly seek a simple answer. An impossible answer.
From time to time people believe they have found that answer. They believe who they are is finite and fixed. We’re good or evil. Happy or unhappy. Black or white.
But they haven’t found any reasonable answer at all. Who we are is a complex thing, we change constantly. In different situations we are different people. Really, we are a lot like a rainbow (lame!). We consist of a range of different colours and different shades.
A lot of people don’t understand this though. They can’t comprehend that a person is made of many different identities.
There’s an episode of Seinfeld which perfectly illustrates this. George reveals he has two distinct personas. One is “Relationship George”, the type of person he is when he’s with his girlfriend. The second is “Independent George”, the type of person he is with his friends. But George realises that if his girlfriend becomes friends with his friends, then his two personas will be forced together.
We all act differently depending on the person we’re with, or the situation we’re in. We change ourselves to reflect our circumstances.
As technology improves though, our means of communicating have changed. Our circumstances are now almost as complex as our personalities. Which has lead me to ask another question:
Who am I online?
We now have a new persona: a cyber-self – who we are on the internet.
Unlike our real life persona though, our cyber-self is something we are in complete control of. We can be whoever we want to be. We can edit out the bad bits and leave in the best bits.
Reading this blog, I’m sure you’ve already come to a conclusion about what type of person I am. This person is Internet Dan. But the thing is, Internet Dan and Real-life Dan are completely different.
Which leads to a problem. What if you meet Real-Life Dan, when you expect to meet a real-life version of Internet Dan? Can both Dans survive together?
The meeting of Cyber Persona and Real Persona is never usually a problem, we can take into account that people will differ slightly in real-life from how they appear on the internet. But sometimes a real-life relationship might hinge on a relationship made online. Never is this more important than during online dating.
Now it’s time to admit the sad truth. Last year I tried online dating. I say I tried it, but really I never went on an actual date. I signed up to a few sites, and waited. And waited. And waited. But nobody knocked on my door. I started to wonder why. Perhaps it was the unflattering photo on my dating profile that showed how massive my nose is?
So I changed the photo. And waited. And waited. Still no knock.
So I took another look. Maybe it was because I mentioned I was an atheist? If a girl was into her God, that might put her off.
So I changed my religion to Other. And waited. And waited. No knock. Another change. More waiting. No knocks. More changes.
They say the most important thing in online dating is to be honest. Please. We aren’t even honest in real-life, so why should we be on the internet? Honesty doesn’t make a person attractive. Unless you’re the type of person who likes the look of somebody who’s profile says “mostly I just like to sit around in sweat pants and watch TV.”
The problem of how we present ourselves online, has another layer though. Even if we do decide to present ourselves truthfully online, we wont manage to come up with a realistic version of ourselves, because as I’ve said, we can never truly answer the question “who am I?” and whenever we do answer this question it is just our own perspective.
In presenting yourself online, you are making a document of your self-image, the person you see yourself as. But what you see, and what others see can be completely different. We’ve all met people who think they’re hilarious, who think that everybody is laughing at their jokes, when really everybody is laughing at how pathetic they are. If you asked them if they were a funny person they would say “of course, everybody thinks I’m hilarious” and their online-persona would reflect this. But if you asked others they’d say “that guy’s as funny as cancer.”
With all of this in mind, I attempted to make my online-persona more attractive to the opposite sex.
Internet Dan was a millionaire, he owned a small island in the Indian Ocean, his profile photos weren’t even of him, they were photos of a male model, stolen from a website. To top it all off his penis was huge, so huge it was worth mentioning on his dating profile.
Yet still nobody knocked at my door.
Eventually it dawned on me. The reason I was receiving no messages was because girls don’t send messages to guys on dating sites. The guys chase the girls. It’s like being in the playground at school, playing catchy-kissy. You have to catch the girl before you can kiss her.
So I started searching for girls to catch. I started scanning their profiles, looking for my perfect match.
Unfortunately, a lot of these girls weren’t as smart as I was. They were simply too honest in their profiles, or they didn’t understand what persona they were projecting online. Some had pictures of themselves where it was clear they had a double chin. Some couldn’t use apostrophes. Some thought it was a good idea to mention their love of taxidermy.
But eventually I found her. My perfect girl. She was intelligent, funny, she was into baking and Scrabble. To top it all off, she looked smoking hot.
I started to wonder. What’s the catch? There’s got to be a catch, right!? She’s perfect!
We arranged to meet. She’d be wearing a red silk scarf she said. When I arrived I wondered why an obese man had stolen her scarf. Then I realised that the obese man was actually her. I was shocked. She had a full grown beard and everything.
I’m ashamed to say, I snuck away and didn’t speak to her again. I would feel bad, but she’d sold me a lie. Maybe she was intelligent and funny. (She was definitely into baking, you could tell she enjoyed her cakes!) But her physical appearance was so different from her online appearance, that I knew it wouldn’t have been the only liberty she’d have taken in presenting herself.
I realised then, that it was pointless to make Internet Dan the most amazing man alive, because Real-Life Dan could never compete. A girl would only feel disappointed if she met me, because she wanted another guy. Just the other guy would be some freaky version of me. I couldn’t exactly fight myself in a duel, it’d just be suicide.
So maybe the solution is to be honest after all. To let people meet our real-life persona online, so that the transition from online to real-life is easier and harmless. Maybe it’s time Internet Dan became just a part of Real-Life Dan, instead of a separate entity.
Although Internet Dan, really doesn’t want to give up his huge penis.