Ever since I first started writing on the internet, I’ve had my name out there in some form. Not necessarily my full name and all my personal information, but simply my own perspective and who I am as an individual – I’ve always attached my own identity to the words. I’ve never seen the point in remaining completely anonymous or creating a separate fictional persona for myself.
But some people do these things all the time. I remember once coming across a story in which a blogger confessed to creating a female fictional persona for a freelance writing project that caused somewhat of a stir. Her handle was PixelVixen707, and she was a video game critic. Her blog became somewhat popular and people grew quite attached to the character he wrote as. He gave this girl, Rachael Webster, a life of her own: an art therapist boyfriend who worked at an asylum, a home in New York, tattooes and purple hair. Her criticism was linked to other video game sites because it was often very insightful and intelligent. So, naturally, when the blogger revealed his true identity, many people were very angry that they had been writing to someone who wasn’t “real.” They felt duped because they had grown so attached to her presence.
I actually got to experience this feeling firsthand – though still a bit vicarious – through a similar situation. A few years ago, there was another video game blogger that went by the internet handle UltraNeko. She made weekly video reviews on Youtube, in which she played through a game for about an hour or so (edited down, obviously) and showed her reactions. Her personality and enthusiasm was pretty infectious (her show was actually called “Sadie’s Game Infection”). She often dressed up as characters, and even got to interview some really well-known voice actors. After a while though, she stopped. She suddenly told everyone she was on a hiatus. People waited for a long time, but she never returned. Many suspected she was pregnant during this time, and started spreading pretty malicious rumors about her. An internet troll created a Twitter and wrote as if it were her talking, often making very racist remarks and saying that she was really an actress that was just in it for the money. People were also upset because they had sent her donations, as well as video games for her to review. Her Youtube was eventually shut down completely and no one heard from her again. No one had conclusive evidence for why she left and whether or not she was just a fabrication. Obviously, many people were upset by this. I know I was. But was I upset by the fact that Sadie may not have been “real” in a sense (if those particular rumors were true)? Not really. I guess I was more disappointed by the fact that I would no longer be able to watch her really entertaining reviews and playthroughs, even if they were partially fictional. I imagine I would have felt the same way if I had read PixelVixen707’s blog from the beginning and learned she wasn’t a person either.
Back in the Livejournal days, I remember there being a journal that was supposedly written by twins who were in love with each other. It told of their abuse and how they had to hide away their incestuous affair, and it became fairly popular. Although it seemed so obviously a fictional blog to me, people continued to follow along anyway and leave them comments, giving them advice whenever they needed it.
There are all kinds of motivations for creating these characters or for being an anonymous internet persona. You can be more bold, you can exaggerate, you can impress…and sometimes, you can even get paid for it too. You can be anyone – you’re only limited by your imagination, in this sense.
Despite having always been obsessed with fiction, I still haven’t tried this out. It’s pretty funny how I don’t feel the need to lie or fool around like this like others have. I suppose I’m still caught up with the extremely egotistical idea of owning my words and reminding people that I’m my own person with my own thoughts.