The Anonymity of the Internet

First image that pops up when you Google me... awesome.

First image that pops up when you Google me… awesome.

The anonymity of the internet is a funny thing… mainly cuz it doesn’t exist. Seriously, Google me. Calhoun Kersten.

… I’ll give you a minute to Google me.

Okay, it’s been long enough. But seriously, if you type the name “Calhoun Kersten” into any number of search engines, you’ll be greeted by links to my Twitter, YouTube user profile, a long-defunct Vimeo account. In short, there’s not a whole lot you can’t find out about me on the internet.

But ya know why? It’s because I give it all away. It’s not like some sentient computer stole my wallet and wrote down all the personal musings it could find out about me (but seriously, how cool would that be?) I volunteered that information… although part of me wishes I hadn’t just told you to Google me, there’s some pretty embarrassing stuff if you look hard enough. Okay, I lied, you don’t hafta look hard at all. I mean, I don’t even wanna talk about how many of my profile pictures are Boba Fett-oriented. But that’s part of growing up in the internet age.

Sure, when we grow up, we all make stupid mistakes. My dad tricked his brother into drinking paint cuz he told him it was Coke. Past generations haven’t had their mistakes committed to the internet, the digital realm where every past mistake, whiny Xanga entry, and bad haircut photos are just a click away.

As a result, we’ve been socialized differently. The intimacies of our personal lives are hardly compelling Facebook posts, but they’re there all the same. We bare our souls to the flashing cursor. After all, what’s the harm? It’s just the internet.

internet (1)That’s the problem. It’s not just the internet. The internet has a very real connection to life outside our computers: a connection that no one is talking about. Sure, there was the uproar when colleges first announced that they used social media to screen potential students, but that was ages ago and where’s the furor now? It’s become accepted again. People are becoming complacent again, accepting it as an inevitability instead of really hearing what it means.

I’ve tried living by a code. No, it’s not nearly as dramatic or even intelligent as it sounds. It’s simple really.

Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.

For some people? That might be a good plan. For me? I say “fuck” a lot, online and in person. I’m as obsessed with my dog as my Instagram would have you believe. I make terrible jokes at some friend’s expense. Okay, that one’s not as terrible as it sounds… it’s just how we show each other our love. I mean, what else are we gonna do, actually say that we love each other? Please, I’m way too emotionally stunted for that. Will I say it online? Sure. In person? … if the person is bleeding out, maybe, but I’m just not an emotional guy. “Love” is a lot easier to type than it is to say.

The fact remains, the disconnect is already there, between internet and real self. I’m not even part of the generation that has never experienced life without the internet so i can’t imagine how they handle it. I try to live by that code, but not even I can live up to those standards. The things that I can say on the internet that I can’t in person? Those aren’t the things I shouldn’t be saying. They’re the things I can’t say that I wish could. Maybe someday my real self will be as bold as my internet self and the concept of speaking emotionally and candidly won’t be so terrifying, but for now, hiding behind the computer screen isn’t so bad.

4 thoughts on “The Anonymity of the Internet

  1. Good stuff. I gotta go Google myself…thatswhatshesaid.
    I recently debated taking the link to my blog off my LinkedIn page because potential employers may not like that I say Fuck but I do. And if they don’t like it they can go…well I’m leaving it up. I yam what I yam.

    How’s the move going?

    • Google is… dangerous haha

      I am finishing up the last leg of my move. It’s… interesting. Not quite sure how I ended up in North Carolina, but here I am.

  2. I’m glad social media on the internet became big when it did, and not when I was in school. I feel that as an adult, I’ve been fairly responsible about it. I don’t know if my younger self would have done the same.

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