Online presence is no presence: I choose real life

The internet is a place where you can learn to hate anyone and anything. Choose a place, a thing, or a person, and you’ll find entire communities of people who dedicate their time to spread hate about it, if you wish.

And then there’s social media, of course, a platform that facilitates communication without context, which is doomed to piss off even those who are the closest to you.

I’ve had many friends in my life whose opinions couldn’t be more different than mine. Yet, it always felt good to be around them (even when we were arguing about the subjects we didn’t agree on!) But their Facebook feeds are so intolerable that I have to make sure that I never see their posts, otherwise I end up unfriending them.

Twitter is even worse. You have to express your ideas with short texts, and you can’t provide context, you can’t use facial expression, body language, and vocal intonation to convey emotions and make it plain obvious if you are being serious, funny, or sarcastic.

The result is that people reading your tweets will fill in all that missing information inside their heads. What was meant to be a joke will be shouted with an angry voice inside someone’s head. What was supposed to be an innocent comment will be heard in a condescending, sarcastic tone in someone else’s head.

Of course, I’m no exception. I know very well that I too read other people’s words with my own particular interpretation, that is probably wrong most of the time, considering how frequently I get angry.

I’ve been questioning the concept of an online life for a while now and recent events made me realize that there’s no such a thing as an online life. There’s not even an online presence. You are not online. What is online is something else, a character or an avatar. And the opinion that other people will have about that online presence of yours will never match the opinion they would have of the real you, had you ever met in person.

There seems to be a directed effort into making it possible for people to live their lives without ever having to see another person face in real life. I’ve decided to direct my efforts into the opposite, trying to live my life with as much real life communication as possible, and the absolute minimum online presence I can.

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