The internet is a world unto itself
I’ve talked to a couple of different people about this, and their reactions have been mixed, ranging from the disagreeable to the irrationally disagreeable. Few people share this view, and in my opinion, more should.
In most people’s minds, the internet is an extension of the real, physical world. It’s a convenient place for you to handle the business of your life all at once. Banking, shopping, entertainment. It’s all right here without ever having to leave your house.
Which is fine, except that I disagree. I see the internet as its own place, separate and new from everything that has ever come before it. I see it that way, and that’s how I treat it. Where else does the world come to you, is communication totally at your discretion, and fame a mixture of wit, stupidity, and arbitrary popularity? Fads, memes, communities, drama, war, and everything you could ever imagine literally at your fingertips.
The internet is a kind of self-contained existence that you pop into and out of, leaving each part of your life behind when you’re in the other. And by doing so, you make the internet a free place. Freedom is the absence of consequences, and you can only have consequences in the real world. Getting banned from a forum means nothing. Saying something on a forum that someone (who you know in the real world) doesn’t like can cause problems.
Look at it this way. If you want to, you don’t have to interact with anyone on the internet. Block people on aim, avoid a particular website, fake an internet death and go on living. In the real world avoiding people is much more difficult, if not impossible.
This is hard to accept, I know, but look at it like this. If you tie your two selves together, you are setting yourself up for twice as many risks and taking consequences with you back and forth between the two “realms”. It’s muddled and confusing and terrible, or potentially so.
On the internet you can be yourself without any fear of what other people think. In the real world, you have to care because of what can happen if you don’t. Why in the world would you want to ruin such a great thing by making this place like everywhere else?