“I” am not real: the performativity of online identity

I have a confession to make. I’m not who you think I am.

I am not really Lord Gummy Bear.

For those of you who don’t know, it is an adorable self-dubbing name that I created for myself. It’s been a huge part of my online identity ever since I took to it. It all started a few years ago, when I was hopelessly obsessed with the gummy bear song. That one had been a true parasite to my brain, because no matter what I did I would be singing its main chorus.

So jokingly, my friends started to associate me with gummy bears. I, too, began to acquaint myself with anything gummy and ursine. I would purchase gummy bears and eat them, although I’m not particularly fond of gummy bears. They’re not bad, and certainly very yummy, but truth to be told–I’m not really a candy person. I’m an occasional-Hershey’s-white-chocolate-Skittles-and-orange-flavoured-gum kind of girl, and I don’t really crave for gummy bears…not as much as I claim I do.

So why do I make such claims, then? I customize my public Facebook page with gummy bear photos, I call myself Lord Gummy Bear, I create quotes about gummy bears and attach myself them. If anything, the gummybearization reflects, at least, the goofy and playful side of me–but honestly, I don’t eat gummy bears.

And I’ve pretended to love and adore gummy bears for so many years. I have been nothing but a fake. Lord Gummy Bear is not real. It is only as real as a persona. It is performed and upheld regularly, by me. Which got me thinking.

How much of our online identities are “real”? How much of them are merely constructs, wish-fulling projections, or unintentional hypocrisy?

Who’s that girl on Facebook, representing me? Who’s this writer, blogging, using my voice? Who am I–when I’m using twitter, commenting on Youtube, posting pictures on Instagram? Am I trying to achieve something? Am I trying to be someone I’m not?

What is this phenomenon? I can’t help but think that social medias are inevitably promoting disjointed and fractured identities that require much pretense. Of course, it’s such a convenient medium to connect and stay in touch with your friends–for sharing of resources, information and whatnot–but other than that, what is it doing to our identity–our perception of our identity–and our relationship with the people around us?

It’s hard to get away with it. I mean, when you’re posting something on Facebook, you are expecting an audience. Even if you don’t–there will be an audience.

It’s kind of scary for me to think about this–because I feel like we’re losing something genuine and true that comes from face-to-face interactions, or relationships with people. I’m scared what social medias will do to me, because if you think about it–how much of the online socializing can you actually remember? Can you remember what posts or videos or photos you liked yesterday? I can’t. How much of the time I spent on Facebook is “real”? What is happening between me, and the people around me? I can’t help but think that social medias are a waste of time because what’s the point in maintaining this facade that you’re actually connecting with people–when in truth you haven’t seen the person for months and you don’t really know the person…yet, there’s this illusion that you are interacting.

I fear that the proliferation of social mediums online (and other tools of communication, like texting, for example) are simply reflecting on the vast emptiness experienced, rather we are conscious of it or not, by all of us. There are spaces growing around us and keeping us apart…but it doesn’t seem like it because we’re on Facebook or Twitter all the time. And I’m even more scared by the fact that we have become dependent on social media sites and made it inseparable from our daily lives.

Do I really need to that tiny red box of how many notifications I’ve got–near the top of my right screen? What would happen if I just stopped, and never opened Facebook again?

Seriously, what would happen? I think on that question, a very valid question–but at the back of my head, I’m thinking: yeah, there’s no way I’m gonna stop using Facebook just to find out.

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