For those of you that are under a rock or just don’t pay attention to anything but kitten videos and CNN when you log online, Google’s launched a (likely to be perpetually in beta) social network to compete with the likes of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and what have you. Not that they’ve even announced it’s a competition – simply by throwing their hat into the ring, Google is well on it’s way to running the show.
One of the big issues many, many people have – which, frankly I’m shocked at – seems to be the “real name issue.” Google requires you to have a real name – not a silly persona like Rainbowflower4523. They want you to be, well, you.
On one hand, I understand the desires of folks to remain anonymous. Anonymous as an online identity was born with the internet, it’s only in recent years that we’ve started getting comfortable sharing our real names – beyond that, some folks have some pretty good reasons for wanting to be anonymous. They don’t want an ex-husband to find them, they’re famous and want to browse privately. I dig that. But, really internet – isn’t it time that we dropped the guise of the internet?
So many of us – myself included – try really hard to convince people that our constant browsing habits, our online interaction, is completely normal and ordinary. Even in this day and age I still have trouble getting people to understand that I use my real name – first and last – in many places on the internet. It’s blasphemy. Shocking. Taboo. You don’t do it – even though, y’know, hundreds of thousands of us are.
Internet, Meet Real Life. Real Life, Internet.
Seriously, think for a minute – how much do we discuss the internet in real life? At any point today did you say – in person, on the phone, via text message – “send me a message on Facebook,” “I saw on Twitter…” “I was reading the news on HuffPo…” Right. You were. You were Tweeting, Facebooking (probably with a real name!), reading news on one of the most popular online news sources…that doesn’t exist in real life.
It’s time we got over our phobias of marrying our online personalities with our real ones. For those of you late to the game, I’m on G+, Facebook, have a YouTube channel, a Twitter account, this blog, I’m a member of a coupon forum, so on, and so forth. I don’t bother trying to keep those avenues separate, because I’ve realized how fun it is when someone I know from Twitter or G+ discovers I have a YouTube account, or when someone follows me on Twitter and then realizes I have a blog. Even better, occasionally real life friends will see what I post on facebook and engage me in conversation. Out of nowhere, someone will tell me they loved a cover song I did on YouTube because it’s one of their favorite bands. BAM. Instant friendship. Instant gratification.
The Art of Not Being an Idiot
The main reason I think most people don’t want to have a simultaneous online and real life personality is because, frankly, many people are ashamed of what they do on the internet. I know plenty of YouTubers who don’t tell their family that they have a channel at all – they’re embarrassed. Despite online putting up a guise of being completely confident and proud of their work, when it comes down to talking goofy videos with their family – they’re just not up to the task.
Pro-Tip: If you don’t post pictures of yourself acting stupid on the internet, no one will judge you for having pictures of yourself acting stupid. How amazing is that! These kids who get in trouble for posting photos of themselves drinking or smoking or whatever it is kids do these days? Yeah. Stop that. You’re making yourself look stupid.
There’s also the fact that, hey, no one is really anonymous. Seriously. You may have come up with the name Josie Cumberbuntcake to post your super sekrit videos with thinking no one will ever know it’s you, but they will find you. Put one toe out of line, use the same email address for your Webkinz account and your Super Porn Fiesta 1000000 subscription, and someone will make the connection. Seriously.
No one can stalk you if you never share your address online or avoid posting videos/photos of too specific locations. No one’s going to send you unsolicited emails or phone calls if you don’t share your email or phone number with the public. Do unto the internet as you’d like done unto you. Or something like that. Just, you know, don’t be an idiot.
If You JUST GOTTA – or, How To Quit Whining About G+
For those of you that just HAVE TO HAVE an alter ego – do the smart thing, come up with a realistic sounding name for yourself. Obviously Mandarific <3<3 isn’t going to go over well with the Google People. Pick a fake name that sounds real and call it a day. Use a different email address than your personal one. G+ works the same way as any other website – if I don’t want to be found when I register for something, I don’t use my personal email. I use a dummy account with a fake name. It works wonders. Seriously.
Google+, on that note, isn’t a place for connecting privately – it’s a very open, broad place. It’s a little bit like one of the ancient Roman forums, or like that guy who stands on the corner in the city and asks you if you’ve heard about Jesus lately and if you know the world is going to end three months ago today and have you repented? Because if you haven’t, you’re probably going to burn in hell. Google+ is that guy.
Me? I’m on G+ loud and proud. Well, maybe not so loud. I don’t post much to the public, I mostly use circles for my posting. It helps me stay private when I want to stay private, and lets me spew nonsense to my hearts content when I want to do so.
I know it’s tough, opening up, mixing real life and the internet – but isn’t it about time the internet was better integrated with our daily lives? We’re already checking into the internet on FourSquare when we visit places, using the internet to connect with friends and family – why is it such a bad thing to mix the two? Are we all just that ashamed that we spend more time interacting with a screen than with real people?
Not me. Go team Internet, I say.
What about you?