Good Behaviour and the Mask of the Internet

Last month I stumbled upon an amazing site called Tapastic (okay, was more guided than stumbled, but you get the idea). It’s a pretty cool online platform for people to post their comics for free, and it’s free to read the comics too, with the option of financially supporting your favourite artists if you so wish. I’ve had a lot of fun reading the various quirky and fascinating stories and journals that the site has to offer.

Speaking of the more journal-ish comics, I’ve noticed one topic coming up in a lot of them, the idea that as soon as one of your relatives follows your work, you can’t put up anything inappropriate. I get the idea behind this belief, we don’t want the people closest to us to think badly of us. But then why do we feel it’s okay for total strangers to see our more ugly sides?

I bring this up because I find it odd how this is almost exactly opposite from how we act in public; we show only those closest to us our true selves while strangers get the prim and proper photoshopped version. Just what is it about the internet that seems to compel us to act differently from how we would in public? Is it the sheer anonymity of it, the knowledge that even if people do scorn you for it, you will never be there to see them do it? Or is it the idea that there are people who will secretly agree with you and enjoy that less than perfect side of yourself that you keep hidden from even your closest friends?

The internet is a funny place full of extremes. We get the people who fully support everything they like, the people who pretend to disapprove of such things in public but secretly enjoy them, and the people, the trolls, who go out hating anything and everything for whatever reason they can come up with, or none at all.

As soon as we know that anonymity is stripped away, we’re suddenly on our best behaviour again. It’s almost as if we don’t see people on the internet as real human beings unless we personally know them in real life. Those people posting things that we would publicly shame get encouragement from random strangers like it’s just a book or a movie, something there purely for our enjoyment and of no real consequence.

And so my question to you, dear readers, is this: would you be willing to show your online content, all of it, with a member of your family? If not, why?  The internet is a fascinating tool that both allows us to be and hide our true selves. Is your true self something that you are ashamed of, or something that you choose to lay bare before those you love?

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