Starting out on twitter, when I had a mere 100 followers, I felt condescending toward people who conveyed a sense of loneliness in front of a large following. I figured that anyone with enough followers to build a small city couldn’t possibly feel lonesome. I felt that I, and other tiny accounts like me, would cease issuing lonely 140-character shouts into the void once I was recognized by “bigger” accounts and people were sharing my posts, responding and relating to me. In a way, the web was analogous to my literal Freshman state, as I was a social fetus in the real world having just entered high school when I first created a twitter. With the same naïveté, I assumed that a bigger crowd around me would temper the existential solitude I found myself in. I assumed that in the IRL world, I would feel less desire to conform to the people I was surrounded with, as somehow — online — everyone who’s anyone gives off an austerity that incites curiosity.
Well, I got my wish. Talking about the quality of my online content makes me uncomfortable, but bigger accounts did notice me. Even without their help, I began to shape my voice and grow into my own person. Making friends online incidentally boosted my real confidence as well.
Yet 28,000 followers later, in a moment of what I can only call epiphany, it hit me that here I was, mother of a meme and sad tweet extraordinaire, and I had unwittingly reverted back into the state of shy awkward loneliness I thought I had tempered. This occured to me particularly when I realized that writing and sharing my voice was something I wanted to do as a career, and therefore, the warmth I felt from what could be called admirers could only give me contentment for so long.
Every day I log on and I know I can be honest. The person I portray online is the best representation of myself: the raw product, and not the riddled, jacked-with-preservative crockpot of emotional camouflaging I stew for the various people I have to interact with on a daily basis. I know I can mention “yeast infection” in a tweet and no one’s going to cry, because that’s my voice – it’s me translating my reality. But unfortunately, as is the case of any artist, there is always a disconnect between the person one is and the persona one creates to allow for their unique sense of expression to hold a consistent form: an extension of oneself but not the self in its entirety. The same can be said in my day to day life as well. I mean, I probably wouldn’t be so comfortable to mention to even some of my closest friends “this lush bath bomb definitely gave me a UTI”, even though I would say (and have said) this openly to thousands of people I hardly know. In fact, the recent integration of my real world and my online one was hard, because of the fact that, as an artist, there are certain aspects of my life I choose to omit from the online world, and vice versa. Even though there is always the possibility (and sort of inevitability) of an eventual convergence of those two worlds, especially for the sake of a career, there is also this near simultaneous divergence, riddled with intersections and twists and turns and exceptions and technicalities and so on.
This is not to say that meaningful friendships cannot be made just because one creates viral art. But I am still trying to work around the ironic fact that as the number of people who see and respond to my art increases, there is a small hole of loneliness and dissonance that stretches wider and wider, making it impossible for me to create a wide enough bridge that allows for me to be totally honest with anyone.