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lip gloss and cherry pop

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the ways in which my online persona differs from how I act in real life. I think that my demeanor is mostly the same-- I'd like to think that my online friends and my real life friends view me as a kind and intelligent cheese lover. I've met several online acquaintances in real life and they don't seem at all surprised by my mannerisms or anything. But, strangely, I think I'm more open and expressive online. It sounds strange to say "I'm more myself online than I am in real life," because, like most people, my digital life is heavily curated. But I do think that, as someone who suffers from social anxiety, the internet has allowed me to share my thoughts more freely without the intimidation of talking to someone face-to-face.

My (real-life) friend and I are starting a silly podcast-- it's mostly just us talking and we still don't know if we for sure want to make it public or just record conversations for our own self-preservation. Anyway, we got to talking, and she mentioned how people often call her a VSCO girl, and I said people call me an egirl. She said "But your personality isn't like that in real life." It gave me pause, because no one had ever told me that I acted different online than in real life. I can't say I liked what she was implying, but we moved on to another subject and I didn't want to press her about it.

That night, as I looked back at my photos on Instagram and I guess even though I lack the makeup skills most egirls have, and the goth fashion sense, some of my edits could be considered along the lines of what an egirl might post. I found myself coming up with all sorts of justification: "But my photos have more artistic value" and "I'm just practicing my Photoshop skills." But you know what? "Egirl" photos have artistic value and maybe egirls are also practicing their editing skills. I don't know why I was so resistant to the idea. Maybe because it seems like egirls are only cool online, and I wanted to be cool online and in real life.

But maybe I'm not cool in real life (or online for that matter) and maybe most of my life has been lived online and maybe that's okay. I met most of my closest friends online, my first relationship was online, most of my work is online, and I hate to think that I all these people that I know, all these opportunities I have, are the result of a persona I crafted that isn't who I really am. I don't think that's true and I don't want to believe that. I think it's much more truthful, and easier to believe, that the format of the internet allows me to be less inhibited and as a result. Maybe that doesn't have to be pathetic, even though people that spend their lives online have kind of a pathetic reputation.

I live in a small town. And, contrary to public opinion, it's easy to feel lonely in a small town where finding like-minded people is hard. The internet was my saving grace. Truth be told, I only ever go on the internet for connection, not for fame, not even really to learn. I don't actually know very much about internet culture. I don't keep up with YouTube drama, and I don't even have a discord, so I guess that pretty much means I'm not an egirl. I don't say this to exclude myself from other girls, but to explain why it's hard for me to own up to the role the internet has played in my life, because, aside from the perceived patheticism of that, to be honest I still don't feel like I know that much about the internet. I want to though, and I need to for my future career, and I plan to. I think my block was that I wasn't ready to admit how much I rely on the internet emotionally. Now that I've finally admitted that, I'm ready to learn.


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