mad drunk genius

I used to have all sorts of problems. Now there's just the one.

Tag: identity

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?

Voiceless

For some odd reason, I have no voice. When I say something, sounds come out, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

How I come across to be read, I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain that I vary in tone as all people do. This is something less conscious and difficult to perceive. Vocally, however, I speak with very clear differences.

Sometimes I use a very deep or husky voice. It’s strong, masculine, and sounds very firm. I use it a lot and it’s usually paired with my “aw shucks, I’m just a drawling Texan” accent. It doesn’t have to be, but that’s usually how it’s used. I speak slower, I pronounce my words less clearly, and I’m overall more relaxed.

But it’s not used all the time and for certain conversations it simply won’t do. To express thoughts of an enlightened nature, my voice goes up an octave, usually speeds up, and I inject new vocabulary Typically, my accent will decrease and if I get to talking about the right kind of high brow subject, it will disappear completely. Contractions become less common and I come across as generally more pretentious.

There are others. I have a very high pitched joking voice, and along with it several laughs. I almost never use my natural laugh in public because it makes me sound like a literal jackass. So I use fake laughs that are deep and warm, or mirthful chortles.

At least I know what my real laugh is. As for my voice… I honestly don’t know what I sound like. I almost always sound a certain away in certain situations or around certain people, but left to myself, what would I talk like?

This all comes back to a general identity problem, but this manifestation of it is strangely troubling.

The Changing Self, or Variations on an Identity

This is something taken straight from a post on a forum, but the post was written by me, so I figure it’s ethical for me to put here as well. I don’t say much worth saying so when I do, I have to recycle.

“As we live our lives, we have many different selves, and I don’t mean many different personalities or roles to play (although that’s certainly also true). As we live, we are continually changing, hopefully growing, but always changing. As we do, the person that we are continuously dies and a new person is born. The person you were ten years ago is not the same person that you are, the person you were one year ago or a month ago or a minute ago is dead, and you are dying every second that you learn something new, because that kills the you of the present and gives birth to someone else, someone who will act, react, and think differently, even if such a difference is only slight.

If you were asked ten years ago your opinion on such and such issue, you might have a different opinion than you do now, but even if you agree with your past self’s conclusion, you would almost certainly reach that conclusion with new and fuller information that you did before. To compare the two thought processes would be similar, no doubt, but still quite distinct.

Or to take a backward view, the people closest to a person with Alzheimer’s will eventually become unrecognizable that person. But such a person would also become unrecognizable to those same people because having lost those memories and everything associated with them, the person has lost a great part of him or herself. Grandfather from the summer fishing trips isn’t the Grandfather lying in the hospital bed who can’t remember your name.

So if you can agree with what I’ve just said, certainly not a given, do you ever feel as if you have changed so much that you would be unrecognizable to the child you used to be? Have you changed so much that your former self would be difficult for you to recognize? Or do you disagree and have always felt like a variation of the same singular entity, at times different, but still part of the same being?”

For all that, I really feel more like a different version of the same product, constantly being updated and improved upon. While I’ll talk about this sometime, I have no desire to be a kid again, or to be as I was before. I want to move forward and progress. I’m Insomniac By Choice v. 18.825 or whatever the devil it would be. Each update brings new features, and unfortunately new bugs, but the core values that are common in all of them are what make IBC IBC.

If this is the most recent blog, it’s a bit hypocritical to say so in light of my permanent top entry, but they aren’t entirely contradictory. Part of what makes me me is that I let my self be governed by my audience. It’s probably about time someone fixed that bug, I think.

A shallow, complicated character study

I know a woman who, in order to get a job, told her future employers she had children, and coming up on three years later she is still working there and her employers still believe she has children. She uses these imaginary kids as an excuse to get off days of work, but all she does on those days is sit at home and watch television. Besides this, she is lazy, spiteful, and selfish. But she isn’t evil.

I know another woman who has half a dozen children from three different fathers and is dating another man. By her actions I know she favors the children from some fathers over others. By her actions, I know she is irresponsible and also selfish. I know that she used to sell drugs and may still, smokes weed regularly and has stayed out late at night getting drunk with boyfriend, all with six children in the home and often as a single mother. Her perception of herself and reality is biased to the point it is almost unrecognizable from the actual events taking place, a necessary device in order for her to gain people’s sympathy (and her own). But she isn’t evil.

Those two descriptions are not fair in the slightest, and I make no claims that they are. They are the worst aspects of two people who can be quite pleasant at times, the latter even more so than the former. They are not good people, either one, but they have good aspects, very good aspects, and I could spend pages listing them. They often seem to be quite good. And yet knowing the worst, I could never in my life call them good. I am tempted to call them sympathetic, but knowing the worst (some of which I don’t wish to mention here), even that is impossible.

I know a man who says racist things without remorse, who holds very strong racist opinions and holds them close to his heart. But this man is not just any man, he is in a position of strong political leadership and is friends with many political people in my city and across my state. From his statements it would be easy to gather that he thinks that Mexicans are all stupid, thieving, dishonest, and lazy, and you could probably get a similar or identical reading from his opinions on blacks.

And yet, from his actions I would never be able to tell. He gives money out of his own pocket to help Mexican children who don’t have enough for candy. He actually physically helps older kids whose tires have gone flat on their bikes. Any time anyone of any age, race, or creed comes to him for help, he does literally everything in his power to help them. And then when they turn their backs or get out of earshot, he’ll make disparaging remarks about how they’ll spend the money or why they were in that situation in the first place.

I don’t mean to be trite because surely you’ve all heard this before or reached the same conclusion, but there are very few people who fit the simple definitions we like to arrange others into. Unlike movies or comic books or most fiction in general, evil is rare and God knows true good is like a grain of sand in a haystack. Life is complicated, people are complex, but it’s easier and more attractive to write people off according to one word labels.

I’m no better on either account, of course. I still label people simply and act in ways that would quickly get me labeled if people actually knew about it.

I’ve pretended to be romantically interested in a woman just to get her friend (my co-worker) to like me better and therefore be easier to work with. I revel in the attention, get off on the idea of being desired and the source matter little at all to my ego. I am as selfish, loathsome, and wretched as any human being you will ever find, and if you knew some of the things I have done and if you knew the things I have the desire to do, you would agree and rightfully shun me like a leper.

But I’m not special in that way, either. For a while I used to think I was, but now of course I realize that all of those things are present in everyone to some degree. Those that know me may think I am nice, funny, pleasant, etc. I am. I can be a very considerate and thoughtful person. I can be intelligent and endearing. I am all of those things.

But I’m also an asshole, a pervert. A jackass, a selfish, unabashed cocksucker of the highest order. The “Illusory existence of an internet person” covers that concept fairly well, so I won’t delve into it any deeper, but what’s true in cyberspace is true in real space (and myspace). So what am I? A wonderful, dreadful schizophrenic?”

And you?

Is there something deep and significant in any of that? No, probably not. Does acknowledging that people, like each one of us, have many aspects to them, most of which we never truly see, mean that anyone will stop using simple definitions? Of course not. But it’s something to aspire to.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but nostalgia…

[Original title: “Myspace, my memories”]

I’ve now become somewhat addicted to myspace, and I think I know why.

Myspace is a facsimile, or rather, a reminder of the old life. The high school/junior high life. It has all of the people you used to know acting the way you used to know them, and that brings contentment.

I wasn’t especially popular in high school. People knew me, people liked me, or at least they appeared to to my face, which is just as well. But even though I didn’t particularly enjoy high school, I enjoyed the societal framework that existed within it. I was the person I was supposed to be, the person I was meant to be. High school didn’t define me as a person, but all of the people I had known for the past ten or twelve years did. I was who they wanted me to be. I filled my role, and it was comfortable. It was comfortable to be a smartass or a pervert or a clever, witty guy or a slacker, because that’s what people wanted when they saw me. They knew who I was, so I did as well.

High school is not a great place, and it wasn’t that great for me. But all I can remember is the good stuff. When I’m on myspace and I see the pictures of the people I used to know, I remember the good experiences, and the comfort. Which is odd, it really is. I don’t want to name names because even though I know no one will likely ever find their way here or read this, I’d rather not sacrifice my anonymity and face consequences, however minor those consequences might be. So forgive me for speaking in generalities.

It’s odd because I dislike a lot of the people I see, especially the girls. I have a gut reaction of “faggot” when I see someone who’s twenty and can’t write coherently or has a goofy expression on his face. My eyes roll in my head and I feel immediately superior, but I don’t feel the hate I feel toward the girls I used to know with their plastered on smiles and disingenuity.

This is obviously hypocritical because I am one of the most disingenuous people you’ll ever meet. I often smile and laugh when I am completely disinterested or sometimes when I’m completely enraged. But when they do it, I don’t know. It just makes me angrier than I should be. Maybe I’m a misogynist. Who knows? But when I see them on myspace, I don’t think of that at first. I remember all of the times I saw her during school and the kind words and the genuine smiles. I have to work to hate them because those aren’t the first memories that come up.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but nostalgia does a good job as an anesthetic.

The illusionary existence of an internet person

Despite what you may think, I do not exist.

That’s right, I am not a real person. I am a composition of colorful pixels which create the illusion of an identity where one does not truly exist. When you close this browser or go to another page, do I not cease to be, in your mind if nothing else? Should the internet crash and all data be lost, would I not be lost as well? Can I venture out in to the world, or am I contained by your screen? Truly, I am just a fleeting idea of person, a concept constructed of imagination, and nothing else.

The internet allows people such as myself to exist where they wouldn’t otherwise be able. There is a real person pushing the keys, there has to be, but he (or she) does not necessarily have to be anything like me. It isn’t that hard to fill out data fields falsely or change them, and in the digital age, not even a memory or sign of the previous data will be left behind. It isn’t that hard to present yourself in a manner that is entirely different from who you are in reality, or rather, who you appear to be in reality.

Even people who consider themselves to be genuine are not. In the real world this occurs, to a point. You present a version of yourself that is best suited for the people around you. But, this version is still bounded by reality, to a degree, and social acceptability almost always. The internet has no such boundaries. A person who wants to be pretty, can be. Take a picture from the right angle, or just use another that you say represents you, and suddenly, you are.

“Are you rich?” someone may ask.

“Certainly,” you answer, “just look at my income. I make over 100,000 dollars.”

The internet allows one to lie without consequences and in the process, these lies can become a reality unto themselves, coalesce in the vast wastelands of deceit and evolve into new beings. They can lie so well, they express truth better than the real thing.

I have been many things in the past, but they have died and no longer exist. I have been fifteen, twenty-seven, thirty-five, and seventy. I have been white, black, racist, Jewish, male, female, fat, skinny, straight, gay, intelligent, stupid, clever, funny, serious, likeable, hateable, religious, atheist, loving, and callous.

In just a handful of years, I have lived lifetimes. Most of the websites within which those identities were born have long since closed down, and no trace of them is left behind. One day, this version of me will die, too, with a whimper rather than a bang, and perhaps eventually, I will not be reborn. But I treasure my fleeting existence. As a fleeting idea, myself, I can expect no better.