Manchester, UK

ON SECOND THOUGHT – Who Do I Want To Be Online?

Undoubtedly, I’m sure we can agree we all have an online persona. It’s the side of us that slays every Instagram photo and knows to highlight our best side. Our online persona often pops out through heart-eyed emojis and goofy writing styles. Some of us are even known by our online persona first, as who we are in square-shaped boxes and who we are outside our small screens bleed into each other more and more.
‘You always take a century to reply to my DM’s though!’ ‘Who were you referring to in your Instagram stories last night?’ ‘You haven’t posted in a while, is everything okay?’

For some, the person they are online is a mask they wear a couple of hours each day to hide the scars that never heal and escape to a reality they’ve chosen. For others, it’s the opportunity they have to take off the mask they have to wear in the real world allowing them to be a truer version of themselves.

Yesterday, I went down memory lane scrolling through my old photos on Facebook, you know, when it was all the rage and you felt left out if you didn’t have over a thousand friends.
Appalling and cringe-worthy is definitely how I would define my thirteen-year-old self’s perception of cool. Whilst it prompted me to take Tiffany Ferg’s advice on the importance of deleting old posts, mainly out of embarrassment, to be honest, it also made me reflect on the fact that I’ve been ‘performing’ online since I was essentially a pre-teen who had zero concept of reality.
Yes, it is true that many of us try to align who we are on the internet with who we are when we’re walking down the street, but no matter how much we try, it is impossible to ignore the fact that everything we do post is curated, reviewed, edited and often planned out entirely. This is surely more the case when it comes to celebrities, influencers and of course bloggers like myself who create content on a regular bases, but it also isn’t specific to us either. Today, the Instagram feed of the regular Jane is also as or at times more curated than the average content creator despite having no plans or desire to ‘blow up’ or go viral.

Earlier this week, Chloe Plumstead wrote a beautiful piece on her blog about finding her place in the influencer world. In it, she reflects on the role her ‘influence’ plays in an industry that has become more about consumerism than anything else. ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’, she writes as she explains why she might not want to actively encourage people to buy things they don’t need anymore. Her piece made me ask the question: Who Do I Want To Be Online?

This a question I have certainly asked myself more than once in the past, especially when I started blogging. What impression do I want to leave on my readers? In what way, even small, do I want to impact the lives of those who follow me? How would I want my online friends to remember me?
It’s something I learnt to think about the more I exposed my bare feelings on public platforms. A year ago, I wrote pieces questioning whether I had to be sad to be relatable online and earlier this year I outlined my thoughts on oversharing online and my plans for the future of the blog.

It would only take you a few minutes roaming around the pages across the blog to realize that my blog isn’t fashion-focused therefore I haven’t necessarily had to confront the weight and responsibility that comes with advising people to buy clothes – also clearly haven’t reached that level of success (yet!) anyways. Whilst Chloe’s decisions and influence might impact people on a greater scale, I too as stated earlier have had to deal with the same thoughts.

One thing I promised myself and you when I began writing on here was that I’d be super candid about my life as much I could. Firstly, because I love reading real, raw pieces both online and on paper as I find I connect to them the most. Reading about struggles, love and deep thoughts is something I’ve always been drawn to more than reading about an outfit, for instance, without any human side to the story. Secondly, I enjoy crafting words from a place of candidness and can rarely fake it when I write. But what if my vulnerability could hurt someone too?

I can’t help but wonder how the posts I let go live may impact someone somewhere reading my words. If I’m using my platform to express myself and let go of the hurt, am I then dumping it unto someone else? Would my thoughts on anxiety make someone who’s already on the edge a little more anxious or would it make them feel less alone in the world? When I write about why it’s still hard to talk about my disability does it make somebody somewhere feel inadequate or does it help them be more expressive and open? Is it okay for me to write another post on feeling lost or am I just spreading negativity?

It’s the ripple effect I always think about; what happens after I hit ‘post’. What impact, if any, does my writing have on people?

You might be wondering what conclusion I’ve come to at this point, but frankly, I don’t think there will ever be a simple answer. On one hand, I want to be able to present myself online the way I want to without thinking too much about my every move. On the other hand, however, I can’t completely shake off the responsibilities that exist when I ‘perform’ online – also cancel culture is still a thing too.

The fact that I still question the way I write and the message behind the things I say means that I’m still aware, therefore I think I won’t be fighting the voice in my head that challenges my every move too much. All I can really do is continue to try to find my voice online with caution and continuous awareness. I think that will do for now. Do you?

Your restless romantic roamer

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2 responses to “ON SECOND THOUGHT – Who Do I Want To Be Online?”

  1. Paige says:

    You have raised some really important points here – I similarly read this post and had the same thoughts in relation to my own blog; who do I want to be and what do I want to promote to my audience? It takes a bit of thinking, doesn’t it! I think you’re on the right path, all we can do is be our best and learn from our mistakes. You’re doing great!

    Paige // Paige Eades

    • rachylewis says:

      Thank you so much Paige for your kind words! It is really important that we consider the effects of the things we say and do. That’s how we create a better and healthier online space.

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