I’d like to know a bit about where and how you engage with others online. Are there any particular communities you’d like to focus on, any where you feel most engaged?
These days my most active communities are Twitter and Facebook. I used to browse Tumblr every day but I go there less and less recently.
I used Tumblr mostly for art. DeviantArt I used for that purpose as well, but I have stopped going back there.
Was there a reason for that?
My hobbies have mostly turned to creating games and I find more game creators to speak with on Twitter. Facebook is an old standby as it allows me to keep in touch with people I know in person.
With Twitter, do you use your “real” name?
Yes. Mostly by accident but I haven’t managed to care enough to change it. I’ve embraced my more online personality merging with my IRL friends personality.
I enjoyed a bit of the anonymity this forum afforded but I didn’t ever exploit it to deceive people really. I just appreciated that being seen as a person and not as a teenage boy was refreshing.
That’s interesting – what you say about online personality and IRL friends personality… They’re merging, but in what way are/were they different?
They were quite similar but separate for years, then my persona on DeviantArt ended up being a bit divorced from my IRL self. I have a few eras of online communities.
1) The BBS days, still figuring out how things work. Not much to say here. They were local dial-up BBSes and I mostly played games.
2) IRC Undernet. #japan mostly, as well as #hackphreak and #animetraders. I presented as myself with a few different monikers. I chatted about art and anime and learning japanese. #hackphreak I mostly lurked in to find out what people were talking about. I enjoyed a bit of the anonymity this forum afforded but I didn’t ever exploit it to deceive people really. I just appreciated that being seen as a person and not as a teenage boy was refreshing.
3) DeviantArt and dAmn chat. I enjoyed anonymity again and I didn’t really talk about myself. I was more afraid of the phenomenon of Internet bullying and I was quite aware of sites like Encyclopedia Dramatica. I didn’t really want to become one of their targets so I tried to not link my DA personality to myself. Never posted pictures of myself for a while.
During this time I realized a lot of people read me as female online. This wasn’t really unwelcome. I didn’t correct them and I mostly ignored anything to do with gender or flirting.
Facebook became quite popular in Canada and as I had a university email address I signed up. Quickly my friends from my hometown and my family joined and it became a useful tool for staying in touch with the people I had met in life.
4) Tumblr was the start of a shift away from DeviantArt for art-related posting. I posted a lot of practise art in my feed there as well as other things I liked. It was less about having an art brand and more about just consuming and creating mass amounts of art.
Many people have complained that Tumblr is too full of drama, but as all of the blogs I followed were art related that was really kept to a minimum.
5) Twitter I joined later than most but it was still a few years ago now. I didn’t really use it much at first.
After a while a lot of my Tumblr artist friends started posting more in Twitter and I found lots of anthro artists on there making cute things.
I use Twitter both as an online personality crafting device and as a way to consume mass amounts of art that I like.
I think the Internet was important for me in that it revealed to me time and time again that I didn’t have to be who society proscribed me to be.
Facebook uses female gender pronouns for you – does this have anything to do with the earlier mentioned gender reading by others?
That and gender dysphoria. I’m gender queer I guess? I don’t always present as male but I usually do. I’m currently seeing therapist to talk about that stuff.
On Twitter I list my pronouns as they/them. In that way I think the Internet was important for me in that it revealed to me time and time again that I didn’t have to be who society proscribed me to be.
A lot of people I associate with on Twitter are trans. Many of them trans women. I learn a lot from them, etc.
So, from what you’ve told me so far, art, Japanese language and culture, anime, game creation, and perhaps gender are pretty central to who you are online… are there any other aspects which are important to you?
Connecting to new people. That’s the main draw. I usually research things when it matters and I post a fair amount of political commentary.
The older I get, the less I care who people think I am as a person and the more I care about making the world better and simply enjoying my life.
Do you find it easy to share opinions with others online? Especially things like politics – can be a bit polarizing?
It can be, but I consider the political stances I have to share important enough that it outweighs any anxiety. It’s just too important for me not to speak up. I try to space out posts that cause a lot of sadness or anxiety (to others, as a courtesy).
Do you find you talk about different things online than offline?
These days, not really. The older I get, the less I care who people think I am as a person and the more I care about making the world better and simply enjoying my life.
Are there things you like to know about people you interact with?
Nope. They have my trust implicitly. They can ruin that trust. That’s kind-of how I roll IRL. Perhaps that’s my privilege.
Can you tell me anything about this illustration? Why you chose it as your Twitter icon?
My online persona is currently a Raccoon.
I always think of raccoons as mischievous…
Perhaps that’s me. More inquisitive and dexterous. 🙂