11 January, 2014

You Know My Name

With all the ways in which we can present ourselves to the public these days, from tweets sharing what we are doing everyday to Instagrams revealing what our world looks like, it is easy to feel we know someone before we really do. Spending time on someone's Facebook page or following them on Twitter can make us feel as though we know things about that person and are in some way closer to them. Although it is true that we can understand more about a person through these forums, I honestly don't believe a soul can transpire onto a digital platform.

As strongly as I advocate positive use of social media and believe it is an incredible, new, unknown enigma for humanity to have stumbled upon, I don't believe it can 'replace' the real, human connection that comes from getting to know somebody. In real life. Yes digital communication is (for me) just as real as picking up the phone or chatting face to face, and learning what people like, who they admire, what they are interested in...but that is all that it is. The communication. It doesn't tell us when someone blushed, or giggled, or got tears in their eyes, or shifted uncomfortably or cried. Twitter doesn't carry that all important message that makes the difference between engaging with someone, and seeing right into their soul.

So it aggravates me when people presume to know who we are and what we are thinking or feeling, based on what they have seen online or from a distance. As someone who is very active on social media and writes an open blog, I have come across this presumption many times. People presuming to know everything about who I am, based on my online activity, the things I choose to share. Just because you can see what I had for breakfast (sometimes I tweet pictures of Ready Brek, my bad), and know I played netball last Monday and that I love writing and running, doesn't mean you know me. Do you know what my life has been like? What my memories are? The things that I think and care about? No, because you have chosen to make an assumption about me, based on what you can see, not on what you know. 

Did you know I have low self-esteem? Did you know I barely go through a week without crying for the homeless? Did you know I struggle with anxiety? Did you know I hate my own smile? Did you know I wish deeply that I was not as loud and open as I am? You didn't, because I don't share those things. I share those things now to make a point, but ultimately those and all the other things which live in my soul are for the people who are really in my life. Yes, I share a lot. I get a lot from doing so and I love getting to know other people who do the same. But the one thing I will always hold sacred and will never bring into the public eye, is my soul.

Recently someone told me I wasn't emotional, which made me laugh so hard inside. Oh my goodness, how much stronger my public persona much have become for someone to think that about me.  I am emotional, extremely so, I just don't share my emotions with 700 followers, 600 Facebook friends and 100 people at work.

We should never assume we know someone or what they are like or how they feel. Get to know someone, learn about them, try to understand them, but don't judge them when you are not qualified. A public persona is not only a 'persona' but it is a perception. Your perception of someone is not the same as everybody else's and it is not who they are.


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