Is The Online You The Real You?

If you go to a party on Friday and get hammered and snort some coke and take a bunch of pictures. You should put them on Facebook. It’s only honest.

What does this mean to you?

While friending someone on Facebook isn’t a sacred bond between two individuals sealed with the blood of their first-born children, it is a mutual agreement that you are comfortable being associated with this other dude (or dudet). And if I’m your friend, I want to get to know the real you, not the censored you. I would hope you feel the same.

I have teachers that waste class time explaining that students should not put pictures of themselves drunk on Facebook—or giving the finger or showing absurd amounts of cleavage. For classes related to social media this is fine, it’s an evolving issue and there is some good discussion out there on it. But for most other classes, it’s ridiculous.

If you do not realize that pictures will be online forever, and will be seen by people you do not know, and that your actions have consequences, then you probably should not have been accepted into a college.

The strange part though, is that people who tell you to watch what goes online don’t seem to care what you do, as long as it doesn’t end up online. You can get wasted out of your mind, you can smoke a bong filled with Bald Eagle fetuses, you can… do other things that would be inappropriate. But for the love of your future employment, do not tweet about it!

They care more about the “online you” than the “real life you.” I’m not here to tell you how to live your life (and neither are your teachers, it’s a tricky line to walk, I get it), I’m just pointing out that what you do will become increasingly more difficult to keep private. The “online you” is the same thing as the “real life you.” You might as well embrace that (both of you).

photo from lukreszja.deviantart.com

You won’t be able to fake your online image forever. Everything you do is increasingly ending up online. You might be online right now! Start acting like it, because the internet is getting bigger this very second.

There’s this old saying that parents like to use: Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do with your Grandmother. ‘You’re watching A Clockwork Orange?! Would you watch that movie with your Grandma? What if the Pope showed up at our front door? The holiest man in the world, sitting on our couch. With ultra-violence all over the television set. He would be appalled.’

I disagree with this. Nobody should ever stop learning, which involves pushing the line and even doing some things that others deem inappropriate. Because if everybody just sat back, we wouldn’t go anywhere. If someone tries to ban a book from the library, don’t just sit there, push back. Plus, if the Pope ran Hollywood it probably wouldn’t be as entertaining. Coming to theaters this fall, I Am Legend 2: Post-Apocalyptic Pontiff. So no, my Grandmother nor my Facebook friends should be subject to everything I do, watch, read, and listen to. However, I am comfortable with sharing things I have done—particularly if they ask (click on those links and you can see just how comfortable).

Don’t get me wrong, there should be some amount of privacy, things that only you do or know about, but it is already smaller than what most people think. Whether this will ever completely go away is difficult to predict (and if it does, it’s a long way off).

I’m also not saying you should put everything you do online. What I am saying, and the whole point of this post, is: If you were to write a facebook status about anything you do, would you be embarrassed? If yes, then why are you doing it? If somebody objected, Why would you do such a thing? Could you defend it? If you can, go for it. Though it has mature content A Clockwork Orange is a classic movie with plenty to teach. If you can’t, think about why you’re doing it.

The people you hang out with determine a large part of who you are and how you act. If you are a good person that starts to hang out with guys who fight, steal, and are cheat, before long you will become one of them.

I’m cautious as to who my Facebook friends are (I shouldn’t even have to make that distinction, they’re just friends). They are a reflection of me and by reading the updates of their lives each day I am hanging out with them in a sense. I don’t care about the censored you, it’s not a real thing.

So if you sit at home alone and read a book on Friday, or if you go out to eat with your parents and have a really good time and you take a bunch of pictures. Put those on Facebook too. Don’t be embarrassed, it’s the real you.

There was a friend I had once who was pretty honest on Facebook. He got drunk on most nights, he was immature, and he was a jerk. His Facebook posts reflected this pretty well, although even he censored the parts where he did drugs and cheated on his girlfriend (sometimes twice—at the same time, literally). I didn’t see him as a positive influence, and so he’s not my friend anymore.

I will give him credit for being honest though, I feel like I got to know the real him. I hope I know the real rest of my friends too. How well do your online friends know the real you?

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