We’re All Closeted Unreliable Narrators

Last week, I wrote a post about the web and unreliable narrators. The web lets us be unreliable narrators for a certain amount of time, but if we are disconnected for a moment, the real world will find out our true identities. Which aspects of your personality do you like to present using social media and/or your blog?

On November 4th, I wrote a post titled “Social Media and the Unreliable Narrator“. Basically, I tried to make a case for the ways that the Internet allows us to be characters in a virtual novel; by taking on new identities, we could potentially deceive one another.

I received a lot of really great feedback on this post, and I would love to share some of it with you. Much of what I write here is a call for other people to comment and respond. Sure, I have a lot of ideas, but my ideas are pretty empty without feedback and dialogue!

My friend Dan, a law school student in Florida, wrote me a very thoughtful e-mail:

In law school, someone may be in a class unprepared (like me). Suddenly, the professor asks the poor student about a case, something like, “Well, what did Clark v. Dodge say about closely held corporations in which the directors unanimously agree to control salaries of company officers through voting trusts?”

The student pretends to scroll through a non-existent outline while really pulling up the case outline on LexisNexis. Then, the student just begins to bullshit.

I’m sure this situation happens in a variety of contexts; undergraduate and graduate students, employees, and other people try to show off knowledge that they don’t actually possess. Ultimately, the student/employee is hurting him/herself. What happens during a final exam or a crucial moment when the Internet is not available?

The web lets us be unreliable narrators for a certain amount of time, but if we are disconnected for a moment, the real world will find out our true identities and capabilities.

My friend Shanna, a blogger living in Austin, TX, wrote:

My real life is edited out and I sprinkle hyperbole where appropriate to thrust something into importance or to get a cheap punchline. By deleting my trials, backspacing my feelings, and running a search through the everyday mundane, I try to extract whatever might have a bit of entertainment value…By doing this I leave an image of myself that’s void of anything I’d rather you not be privileged to, while still making sure you think you know me like a best friend. I’ve never straight up lied on my blog, but I do “story tell”.

Personal blogs do start to read like novels, if the writer is good at sustaining a narrative. I love that Shanna admits to using hyperbole. Of course, people use hyperbole in daily conversation, but this device is much easier to use when no one can see the big smirk on your face!

On Comma ‘n Sentence, I try to blog about issues relating to new and social media, creative lifestyle, and writing. However, I leave out other things I like: fitness, music, reading, etc. When you read my blog, you only get a small slice of my life. Which aspects of your personality do you like to present using social media and/or your blog?

(Photo by Kevan)

1 thought on “We’re All Closeted Unreliable Narrators”

  1. How many blogs actually exist? How many electronic forums exist for just about any topic imaginable? There are even a few that collaborate together to create the unimaginable. This can be considered the electronic dadaist movement. A blog can just be considered a single minded forum, but in my recent learnings it can be seen that we possess no single mind, but the amalgamation of many and can only comprehend one due to our “working space,” i.e. consciousness. With so many portals to so many ideas, it is unbearably easy and comforting to float in the ether of millions of voices. This has been the most pleasant drowning I have ever experience. I have bubbled and doggy paddled through the blogs of physicists and learned their shower regiments and where they hide their chocolates from their no-good nieces and nephews. The adorable little plebeian molecules as the aforementioned blog mentions. I have wake boarded throught countless cooking and gardening oriented blogs, hearing advice from certified experts and even the voices of an amputated green thumb, literally. The creative limits are just being born anew and with this new cries are being heard. What happened to the warm hearths of our families? What social skills are being enveloped by the mass “Anon?” What happens when meme’s become socially acceptable as display of human emotion? With every generation, a new “social media” has been devised which demonstrates civilization has its points of intrigue into the genome of the human psyche, but just as coming together resulted in diseases and disorders, what shall this new coming together, yet apart, bring for us,?

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