Friday, July 11, 2008

Online Identity

I recently had an interesting conversation with Lumpesse about internet identities and specifically sex blog identity.

At 32 I've been a pretty active watcher and member of the various online sex related subcultures. Not to say I was "part" of these subcultures, but I was aware of them, I watched them and occasionally I interacted with them. BDSM, erotica, LGBT, poly, Fan Fiction/Slash, all kinds of fetishes, henti, furry, you name it. I have certainly not been active in a lot of these groups, I'm definitely not into half those kinks, but I have watched them with facination. Back in the heady days of BBS's and MoDems you put batteries in, to back when AOL was 1337. I have always been on Usenet, the single greatest place to get porn and find weirdness to this day. I am a firm believer in Rules 34 and 35 and I have watched them in action for more than half my life.

As for online identities, I've had more than a few. AOL chat room names back when I was in my teens. Changing my name, my age, sometimes even my gender. I had the prerequisite online romances, cybersex encounters, even awkward hookups. I am a child of the internet, it gives me information, entertainment and sex even now.

The problem comes when I started growing up and I realized that I have a more and more fragmented identity, online and IRL. I made friends online and off that knew certain sides of me and I tend to keep them separate. Sometimes worlds would collide by choice or happenstance and I would freak out.

Growing up I realize this was even true in my family because my parents divorced when I was an infant and thus I had two separate families that never spoke and whom in a lot of ways knew very different Jacks.

In relationships the same things tended to happen. I would have a girlfriend and we would be very vanilla and I was fine with that. We would break up and I would be with a girl that would be a practically 24/7 power exchange and I was just as happy with that, though somewhere in the middle was where I was happiest.

About two years ago I started posting very dirty stories on various forums online. I had a rather large following, mostly made up of rather creepy people. Still I liked having this little give and take. Posting things in that manner brought immediate and almost always positive feedback which is ego crack to someone like me.

About a year in I met the Librarian and we had this insanely passionate relationship. It started with a Craig's list hook up that turned into this love affair type thing. She was very fond of the few pieces of writing I showed her and out of curiosity she decided to hunt down other things. A couple of the stories she found squicked her and I think it was one of the contributing factors that ended the relationship.

One of the many reasons why I only tell people and show people what I know they can handle.

These days, though, I'm getting tired of separating things. I find my circle of friends gets smaller as I cut off the people I don't feel I can tell things, though my friendships get stronger with the people I actually trust.

On the other side, I like having secrets. I like having different identities. I even like having the ability to close out whole identities and start new ones up on a whim. It's one of the many things that make the internet great. As I get older online friendships don't really appeal to me as much. I tend to meet people online and then press to meet them in person because real life is a lot more fulfilling. Knowing real people and having real friendships make separate lives a lot more messy.

Does this happen to anyone else? How many people in your life know about your sex blog or fetish or kink? How much do you tell a new lover and when and has anyone ever reacted badly? Has anyone ever found you out?


Lilly said...

*sigh* The timing....

I have different online identities as well. The person I am online is NOT the person my family sees, nor most of my real-life friends. They're just not that sexually open.

Very recently I was..."found". I can't go into in detail (at least on here, ask me and I'll tell you about it) but it involves my job. I had to sanitize my blog a little with regards to that. I might be overreacting, but I can't take the chance.

Ellie said...

I have been having some serious issues with this lately. I think you might have read my "existential crisis" post and know what I'm talking about. My intention is to build myself a life where I can operate open and without having to hide anything. I have already dismissed shame and sneaking and openly tell any and all of my friends about my lifestyle and interests and website (although I don't necessarily give them the URL, they know it exists.)

That said, there are practical considerations. Something like accessing my "other" identity from an office computer would be stupid (well it is okay at *my* office in the confines of the ivory tower, but not so much if I was in a cubicle farm.)

I think you have to make your own path, if you enjoy the bifurcated identity, go with it. When it starts to feel like a burden, consider shrugging it off. But try to think through the worst case scenarios. I know what mine are if I am "outed" in some dramatic way. They don't actually scare me that much - they just might make some current plans a bit different. If you know what the scenario is, you can prepare for it. But, like I said, I plan to out myself before anyone else can get to me, if it comes to that ;)

Ellie said...

Hmm, I actually have even more to say about this idea of "two" identities. I'll run it into a post instead of slamming your comments, though.

Mariella said...

I've been getting off on the net since I turned 16, and the second I got my own laptop at 18, it instantly became more and more a part of my everyday life and who I am.

I had two online romances, one very brief and pretty hilarious, and the other a bit more serious and the hugest of mindfucks, by far.

I find it easy to retreat to the internet instead of putting the work into meeting new people face to face. I have more control here, and it makes it hard to want to go back to the old way. I need time-delay and a backspace key to feel comfortable now, haha.

Only a handful of people know the whole truth of the situation AND have read about it on my blog. It's only the people I can trust to understand that the things they read there aren't the work of someone who's a stranger, who's replaced their shy, sweet friend, but just another side of me that's always been there, that I'm finally letting them see. Some have reacted better than others, and those bonds are the ones I see strengthening while others flounder a bit.

I can't help feeling like the net has ruined all of us a little bit, but I don't exactly miss life before it either.