Alrighty. So here I am, coming clean about something.
I think I first seriously got into the internet when I was around 11. I say 11, because that’s when Degrassi: The Next Generation came out. I became seriously obsessed with it, even though I didn’t even have the channel to watch it. It doesn’t really make sense why I was so obsessed with it, considering I only got to see part of one episode. But I’m still like that, really – my obsession with Glee is pretty similar. But anyway, the reasons for my obsession is the subject for another post.
So at 11, I was exploring the internet and I knew I had to be careful. I knew that the internet was a scary place where creepy pedophiles would try to kidnap me or somebody would steal my identity. So, my brilliant idea was that I would just make up somebody on the internet to keep me safe. I wouldn’t use my real name and I could create a new person – a girl named Laura.
Initially, the username I picked was grlEgrl, because I really wasn’t much of a girly-girl at the time, and so I figured it could never lead the way to me. Of course, it turned out that I couldn’t fake who I was as a personality anyway, so that was all for naught. Then, for some reason or another, I had to pick a different username, and I think it turned into grlEgrlE? Or it might have been on other websites that required a different length of username or something, I don’t quite remember. And then, for some reason or other, I had to get a new one, and I ended up with lylgrle.
With these usernames, I made friends on the internet, friends that I still remember.
And so, if you happen to be reading this, and you were one of those friends, I sincerely apologize for lying to you. And I want you to know that although I didn’t give my real name, basically everything else was me. But yeah. Hi, my name’s actually Clara, not Laura. And I’d love if you dropped me a line and let me know how you’re doing.
So all those things about the internet being a scary place – totally true. It was so easy to pretend to be this Laura person that I made up. Granted, I didn’t change anything about me except my name, but still. It was super easy. Thankfully, I’m not a creepy pedophile or anything. Just a college girl expounding on her views of the world to nobody in particular.
But this whole thing of anonymity – It’s great in some ways, yes, but it’s also hurtful in others. And I know I’m not treading on new ground here, but the internet really DOES make it easier to be mean. There are so many things that you would NEVER say to a person to their face, but those kind of mean things are posted everywhere on the internet. It’s easy to forget that there are people behind the usernames.
I’ve definitely been hurt by it before. I had just turned 16, that lovely age when, according to novels and movies, all this romance and wonderful adventure is supposed to be happening. (It didn’t.) My mom’s friend had said that I looked a lot like this one Korean actress. And I had just discovered a forum on the internet devoted to Korean entertainment (Soompi – basically like the biggest K-entertainment forum, as far as I know). Now I was pretty new to the whole forum thing and I decided that I would post on Soompi asking if they could see a resemblance to this actress. I Photoshopped a picture of me that had me with makeup on into a picture of her because I thought that would make it easier for people to see if there was a resemblance in the face and not the hair and such. I didn’t realize then the power of Photoshop and makeup, to be honest, as I wasn’t particularly skilled at either, so when people balked at that, I was surprised, but I quickly replaced the picture with an untouched school picture.
Let’s just say that it definitely did NOT do good to a teenage girl’s already unsteady self-esteem to see some of the really mean comments that were posted. A lot of them weren’t bad – a simple sorry that they didn’t see the resemblance was fine. But there were some that were just plain hurtful. One person posted TWICE to say that I was really ugly and that I needed to lose a lot of weight. Another also said that I was stupid for even thinking that I looked a thing like the actress.
Yeah. Not nice.
Eventually, (though too late for my evaporated self-esteem) the topic was closed because of the bashing.
Yeah, I’ve been a silly young girl who was exhilarated by the freedom of the internet. But I really hope that I never forgot my manners and how to just genuinely be a good, nice person.
Words are so hurtful – And just because you’re some random person on the internet does not give you the right to abandon any semblance of compassion and to be mean to people. This includes celebrities – celebrities CAN read what you say. The entertainment industry I’m most familiar with other than American is Korean, and I know that there are serious problems with “netizens” over there.
But this is just general etiquette, guys. You’re a person. Everyone else on the internet is a person, too. They all have feelings and deserve respect.
Because, after all, it’s not like the Golden Rule suddenly has exceptions for the internet. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”