Sunday, November 13, 2011

What I did on the Net today: personas

So, I've been thinking.

My last Net Art project resulted in this: Before that, I was doing YouTube video performances (like the Pony response video). I have my main blog, mid-atlantic ridge, and one for reblogs, ebolazaire. I have a facebook page. I have a photobucket. I have a livejournal and a deviantart, both mostly inactive.

Somewhere in there, there's a sort of Internet-version of myself, which is quite like me, but not wholly so. It's an inadvertent Internet persona, the version of myself that exists on the Internet, that may be a little more eloquent than the person sitting at the keyboard, that may be a bit more raucous and raunchy than the person who presents in the classroom. I make decisions on the Internet, not to build this Internet persona, but simply to react to whatever virtual situation has presented itself. Comments and writing and reblogs are generally automatic--I am not representing anyone but myself (or, at least, my Internet-self), why would I think about it too hard?

So... what if I DID think about it? What if I went about creating an Internet persona totally from scratch? It's like building a character in a story, in a totally disjointed way. There's no narrative, just an entire person to create, to be viewed through a screen. Nothing is explained, there's just photos and brief captions and "likes" and reblogs. When you get on the Internet, you don't go about laying out your life's story on every website--you simply jump in, like a stage scene, starting from the middle. So what if I decided to simply start monitoring everything I did on the Internet, on certain websites, to appear to be anyone other than the person I am now? It would have to be exhaustive in order to be convincing. I would have to create a person totally from scratch, in order to act like him/ her/ hir on the Internet.

I'm not sure I could do it. I am not a good actor--I am too firmly planted within my own head. I can imitate and follow a script--pure creation is a different story.

Impersonation is possible, but only if I could find someone to switch Internet-bodies with (like in that old Goosebumps story where the guy switches bodies with a bee). Jeremy Bailey mentioned in his lecture doing a similar thing with Petra Cortright, I think... but that was only on facebook. It involves a massive amount of trust, not to mention feeling comfortable with baring very private details of your Internet life with someone. And I'm going to go right ahead and say that I'm not that close to anyone, not even my sister or my boyfriend. I could consider letting someone into my facebook account, maybe, but that's mostly because what I have on facebook is not very sensitive. Other venues of the Internet are a different story.

I don't know if I'll end up doing this, at least not immediately. It will take massive amounts of Interneting, which I simply do not have time for right now. Perhaps in the future I will have the time to build a whole new being out of a few Internet profiles.

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