While the difference between real-life Tom and the Tom-that-blogs is not as marked as Dr Jekyll and his evil alter-ego, they are by no means the same person. I mean I am one person but, like everybody else, I'm made up of a multitude of different identities*. To my parents, I'm a son. When I'm with them, I behave in a way that's completely different to the way I behave with my friends. Without meaning to, I assume a different manner depending on who I'm with. The same applies to my online persona.
Firstly, like Allison, my blog is a secret from all but two of the people I know in real life. Initially, I kept it under wraps because I wasn't sure if I'd keep it up. As if I were pregnant, I left it precisely three months before telling anyone. I have to say, I don't think this secrecy is good for me. I feel like a spy, doing all I can cover my tracks and avoid discovery of the virtual skeleton in my virtual cupboard. The other day the girl that sits next to me at work created a Twitter account. I went into meltdown. "If she finds my twitter, she'll look at my followers. She'll see that I follow 20sb. She'll find...oh my God, I can't even say it. I CAN'T EVEN THINK IT." After the panic dispersed and I regained my sanity, I asked myself why the possibility that she could stumble across something I'd written bothered me so much. And I couldn't really think of an answer.
Looking back at my (embarrassing) first post, I described three reasons for starting a blog;
- To help me remember the interesting things that I do.
- To remind me that my life is interesting, no matter how bored I may feel [This seems incredibly similar to point 1, and why it's a separate reason is unclear even to me. Hey ho, you live and learn.]
- Something about London, which, again, is complete nonsense and doesn't make sense.
Fortunately, my blog took on a life of its own. It evolved. It acquired a purpose I hadn't considered; it now enables me to communicate the thoughts I have that I'd never drop into conversation with friends or family. Either because I'd be embarrassed to, or worried I'd cause offense or because it would be out of character, I suppose.
In real life, I don't come across as a thoughtful person. I doubt you'd think I'd have anything interesting or unusual to say if you met me on the street, or drinking in the kitchen at a house party. I'd say the first impression I give off actually veers dangerously towards vacuous and shallow. And I don't mind that really, mainly because I now have somewhere that reminds me that there is more to me than what people usually see.
But the best bit, as Allison has already mentioned, is the people who read what you write and write what you read. I love the fact that after a day of mind-numbing dullness in the office I can come home and read about tempests in the Philippines or rude Canadian coffee-drinkers, blossoming romance and embarrassing drunken antics from all of the world. I can be transported to other countries, read about other highs and other lows, and that's a great thing. It never fails to make the world seem a more colourful and exciting place than the grey, monotonous one I'm sometimes convinced I live in.
In conclusion, I would say that my blog persona is most similar to the patient and long-suffering Dr Jekyll; a respectable, thoughtful and quiet individual engaged in constant a battle with my far more raucous and far less interesting real-life self. Unfortunately, it's normally the stupid drunk one that wins. That's all from London. Now for a few words from our American correspondent...
This is 'Work-Tom'. Please note bags under eyes, pale skin from too much time indoors, and look of despair.
* I would pretend that this is a theory I was the first to expound, but I know you'd see right through it. I've read about it somewhere, I just can't remember where. If you're desperate to find the answer, I'd ask Rachel; the fountain of all philosophical knowledge.