1. A place for space and control

I’m writing this because twitter posts are too short and open-ended social posts are too long.

I understand that it’s inevitable that everyone will have some degree of information about themselves live online somewhere for the rest of time. Does anybody else freak out thinking about how our online persona is an accumulations of singular moments over a long period of time, acutely crafted and left up for interpretation by the rest of the world?

There’s only so much you can get across with a photo, a few lines of copy and a hashtag or two. Now imagine that multiplied by a thousand. That’s who you are now. Because your digital footprint is incredibly larger than your real life footprint.

Communication has changed.

First impressions are no longer in person. Body language is non-existent. Tone is dying. Emphasis is dying. Passionate speak is dying. Migrating onto the internet makes communication more accessible, easy and global; but in the midst of this wild west bonanza, our identities are being shaped by the capabilities of what can only be seen on a screen and punched out on a keyboard.

This may just be me, but I’d like to have a say in how I’m perceived online. I don’t want to leave my identity up for the interpretation of others. I want to give context to my thoughts and support for my ideas. I don’t want to be confined to a character count or stigmatized for publishing more than a thousand words without using a photo.

It’s nice to have a place where you have more space and control to craft your thinking than within the confines of the common social networks.

Developing an online persona is the ultimate form of storytelling. Why? Because it lives in the real world, interacts with actual people and you receive feedback in realtime. Most people I find, take the opportunity to stray away from who they really are—creating a false-narrative of who they really are and what their life is really like. It’s become an epidemic of escapism. It’s a new drug that is hiiiiiighly addictive. And the strangest part of it is, nobody thinks that they’re guilty of doing it! Nobody wants to be an addict.

The real challenge in this new age of storytelling is how to accurate portray your identity online, within the confines of the digital platform. That’s the hard part. My strategy for battling this epidemic—my writing. I’ll admit that I’m not very good at it, but what I’ve found in the last year is that the act of writing makes me more comfortable and confident to talk about things I would not usually talk about. Writing about my experiences and ideas adds context to how people see me. This makes me happy because it gives me back some of the control that I was so frustrated to lose.

It’s one of the most challenging things in my life right now, because if you really think about it, how many people actually like writing about themselves? It’s hard! I struggle so much when I have to submit any sort of biography and write-up pertaining to my experience and skillset. I usually started by drawing a blank. Now that I consistently practice writing, it’s much easier. I do still struggle. Like anything worth doing at a high level, most of it’s going to be shit before it’s anything worth being proud of. It’s hard to sound genuine when I want to have my own unique voice. I want to be entertaining, but I don’t want to sound false. I want to be detailed, but I still want to hold onto my personal sovereignty. I want to be informative, but I don’t want to preach. It’s a balancing act that I’m trying to figure out as I go.

I still enjoy using Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Facebook kind of sucks these days. But there is a time and place for everything and each of those platforms still hold a lot of value to people. For now I’m going to try and work on my own thing on thenorthend.ca. This platform should hopefully allow me to experiment with my writing and provide more context to my online existence. Because I don’t want my identity to be defined by a bunch of curated quotes, memes and GIF’s like everybody else’s seems to be.

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