The F4TF question for this week asks about secret online identities.
This is a subject that I wrote about a few years ago when my blog first started. I actually really liked this post, and it was very popular on Twitter, striking a chord with many users. I have copied and reposed below:
One thing that has struck me since I have been using Twitter is the number of ‘secret accounts’ that are out there. The definition of secret presumably being that the ‘other half’ doesn’t know about it. It would appear that we are all looking for something more; a new and exciting dimension to our everyday lives. ‘Humdrum’ was a term used by a fellow secret account holder to sum up their life.
Some of you may remember a BBC sit-com called Butterflies, from the late seventies, in which Ria Parkinson, a 40-something middle-class housewife, wanted to make her mundane life more exciting and formed a secret relationship with Leonard, a successful, divorced businessman. The relationship remained innocent and was never consummated, despite an obvious desire by both parties to have sex. Ria was married to Ben, a dentist, who never knew of Ria’s mid-life crisis, or her relationship with Leonard.
To me, the themes that run through Butterflies have an awful lot in common with the secret accounts of Twitter; apart from the fact that Leonard probably never gave Ria a picture of his cock, unless he went to the trouble of getting a roll of film developed by Truprint.
We seem to be looking for fun, passion and excitement; a phrase which a few Twitter friends will have heard me use before. Our relationships must be missing something fundamental if we can share our innermost thoughts, secrets and desires with virtual strangers, yet our partners remain oblivious to the people we long to be.
Perhaps it’s the thrill of doing something illicit and having a second ‘virtual’ life/dirty secret. Maybe it’s reaching a certain age, when our own mortality is getting closer. We can all no doubt remember the excitement of setting up an account and getting those first few followers. But also quickly realising that a good proportion of Twitter has a secret account, and that there are similarities between many marriages in terms of lack of sex, attention and affection. Or is it just a bit of harmless fun? After all, we only live once.
Twitter seems to provide a medium for us all to be the person we secretly wish to be. I am in my forties and was acutely aware that if I didn’t take the plunge and reveal my hidden desires and true personality, and say and do things that I may not have the courage, or chance, to do in real life, then I might never do so. A mid-life crisis maybe? Some people portray an image of being a ‘playboy’ or a ‘serial shagger’, yet in reality, they are the complete opposite and would run a mile given the opportunity to be the person they pretend to be online.
It’s interesting to wonder how many online secret friendships remain on a virtual level and technically innocent in nature, like Ria and Leonard. But is that enough for us, and will it satisfy any impending mid-life crisis? Or will meeting our Twitter crush be an anti-climax and shatter the illusion we have of that person?
None of us are in a position to judge each other for the reasons behind our secret accounts. We are all outside looking in and don’t know the circumstances of other people’s lives. Only the parties in a relationship know what goes on behind closed doors. But, of course, you never really know who you’re talking to on Twitter; could our partners have a secret account too?!
Update for Summer 100
Many of the bloggers participating in the Summer 100 challenge have accompanying photographs of themselves on their blogs. I would love to be able to do that, but it’s not an option for me. I’m not alone in being anonymous: Isabelle has a wonderful caricature, and E T Costello is definitely somewhat a bit of a enigma!
Read more Summer 100 and F4TF posts by clicking the images below: