This morning I was reading a blog–and which one it was eludes me now (sorry), but a commenter (I think) said that online we are able to present ourselves however we like, choosing only to show the best parts of ourselves, whereas in real life it’s harder to hide the flaws and the bad parts of us will show up alongside the good parts. Now I think I remember where I saw this, but it doesn’t matter because it was sort of a tangent that had little to do with the original posting. (Therefore, I intentionally HIDE it from you, deceptive online persona that I am!) Yes, that is why I didn’t respond to the comment, because my response would have been even more irrelevant than the comment to which I am referring, but not irrelevant to the point I am about to make here (on my own blog, which is unhidden!), which is this: I don’t buy that our online personae tend to be more flattering than our real life selves. Sometimes our online personae are unintentionally deceptive, in that they tend to make us appear worse than we really are in real life, because our statements are out of context; emoticons are a poor substitute for actual facial expressions, tones of voice, body language, etc.–not to mention any previous history of interaction that would influence the way our audience would interpret what we say. Aside from that, though, I think that online we tend to be more honest and candid than we are in real life precisely because of the perceived anonymity.
I say things on this blog that I wouldn’t dream of saying to people I know in real life. Even though a few people that I know in real life now read this blog, I still say things here that I probably wouldn’t say to them in a regular conversation–mainly because I wouldn’t dream of being that narcissistic in a real life conversation. Does my sister necessarily need/want to know about my menstrual cycle or how I feel about the Muppet Babies? Does she really care? (Well, do you, sis? Do you?) There are things I wouldn’t inflict on someone else–even one who was close to me, and certainly not a casual acquaintance–in real-life conversation because my partners in real-life conversations are captive audiences, and they won’t tell me when I’m boring the living crap out of them because they don’t want to hurt my feelings. So in real life I make a conscious effort not to bore the living crap out of someone, but here on the old blogstead I make no such promises. I figure if you’re bored, you’ll just leave and I’ll never know you went anywhere. I’ll never know you were here in the first place. Such is the beauty of the interwebs, gentle readers! As far as I’m concerned, I’m probably just talking to myself right now. I can say whatever I want and no one cares, not even me.
But there’s also this: in real life, I don’t speak well. I am just as bad at private speaking as I am at public speaking. Actually, at least in public speaking I have gone to the trouble of preparing my remarks, whereas my private conversations have no such benefit. It is all off-the-cuff and therefore often nonsensical and rarely interesting. I feel sorry for people who have to listen to me talk in real life. I alluded to this in my post about President Obama and his teleprompter (or was it a post about Sarah Palin and her palm? I guess it depends on your point of view). I think if I could have a teleprompter (or even palm notes) when I was talking to my husband about something important, my husband would prefer that. Sure, it might creep him out a little, and he might mock me for my crutches if I started to get the upper hand in an argument, but overall, I think he would benefit from the clarity that would almost certainly result if I didn’t have to rely solely on my verbal skills, which are negligible in the best of times and almost non-existent during a crisis.
I was going somewhere with that. Oh, yes, here it is: because I’m better at writing than I am at speaking, I will bother to write things down that I don’t bother speaking because written down, the ideas at least have a shot at making sense. So yes, I will be more candid and honest and forthcoming online because online I can interact via the written word. And because I am more candid and honest and forthcoming online, I reveal more about myself here than I would in real life, both good and bad. Here I will tell you what I really think. In real life, I would rather just say nothing.
Last month I went to a party at JaneAnne‘s house, and whilst mingling with the various guests, I was asked how I knew JaneAnne, and because I couldn’t think of anything clever to say, I had to admit that we met online, which still feels like a weird thing to admit–to me, anyway–probably because I’m old and old people think only perverts meet online or something. Whatever. But it’s not actually a weird thing. In many ways it is less weird to talk to people I met online because I know those people already have way more context than they will ever need for the purposes of interacting with me. My mental illness, my political views (not necessarily related to the mental illness, but you know, whatever makes you feel more charitable toward me), my family problems, my religious beliefs, my insecurities, my mistakes, my hygienic shortcomings, my plantar warts, my questionable taste in entertainment, my menstrual cycle–it’s already out there, and they decided they like me anyway, so what’s left to be awkward about? Other than my poor conversational skills, I mean. Yes, exactly. The hard part is over; now all we have to do is remember each other’s real names.
So I don’t know–maybe other people craft for themselves online personae that are more flattering than their real-life selves, choosing only to reveal those aspects of their lives and personalities that cast them in the best possible light, but that is not how this Giraffe rolls. Just to prove it to you, I will finally get around to what I meant to show you here in the first place.
I did bake a cake on Lincoln’s birthday. If I were one of those best-foot-forward online types, I would feel compelled to tell you that I’m actually (ordinarily) reasonably competent at cake-baking, but since the purpose of this blog is not to tell you how awesome I am but rather how awesome I am at screwing up, here are some pictures of my Lincoln’s Birthday cake–an ordinary chocolate cake that I baked and iced from scratch, with results so unimpressive that I even surprised myself.
For one thing, I was somewhat careless when removing the cake from the pan, so it fell apart a little. I thought I could sort of glue it back together with the frosting, but here’s the thing about the frosting: I used a little (snicker) too much liquid, so it came out thinner than it should have, and it never actually reached an acceptable spreading consistency. At the time I thought, well, whatever, I’ve worked with too-thin frosting before–specifically, when you add food coloring to that whipped white frosting that comes in the cans (yeah, I know, don’t lecture me), it tends to thin out and get more oozy than fluffy, but you can still work with it. Not so with the frosting I made last week, which was incompetently-mixed even by my standards (and yes, I have made my own frosting before), and which, while delicious, should not have been used to frost a cake, but that did not stop me. No, it did not, for I was determined to frost the cake with that icing, which was fine at first, but after about a minute or so proceeded to ooze off the sides of the cake with such alarming speed and ferocity that I was forced to abandon the project and clamp the lid of the cake dish onto said dish before aforementioned frosting flooded my entire kitchen. It was like one of those wacky sitcoms where the clueless person pours too much laundry detergent into the washer and before you know it the entire household is being washed away on a tide of suds. Fortunately, I was able to contain the “situation.”
Of course, when I lifted the lid off the cake the following day, there was still some more cleaning-up to do, but enough of my blah blah blah, here is the photographic evidence:
I chose chocolate because chocolate is the best flavor and Lincoln was the best president. The hearts were a concession toward Valentine’s Day.
This end represents the devastation of the Civil War and the ravaged South!
Much chocolate was spilled for the sake of deliciousness, just as much blood was spilled for the preservation of our Union.
And yes, I did lick it right off the edge of the platter, what’s it to you?
Just kidding, I didn’t really. But if I did, I’d totally admit it! Unlike if I invited you to my house to partake of the cake in real life, in which case you would really not want to have that information, would you? No, I didn’t think you would.
I think my point is made.
P.S. I’m thinking of making a carrot cake for Washington’s birthday. Bonus points if you can come up with a reasonable connection between carrots and the father of our country. Otherwise, I will just have to do it myself.