You’re All Text to Me
(Considered naming this ‘You Rode Right Text to Me’ but that doesn’t sound right.)
Cause that’s what you’re all. Everybody on the Internet that I don’t know in real life. You’re all text to me.
I recently unfollowed many twitterers, and noticed that in my head, I subconsciously group many people into separate groups. For example, there’s the ‘roleplaying group’, who roleplay as other people online; the ‘intelligent group’, who intelligently talk about anime (people like Scamp and 2DT); the ‘(anti-)weeaboo group’, who are either creepy (people like JunichiHeart) or bash creepy people (things like Anime SOS); the ‘silly guys’, who are incredibly silly (people like J15931415926159 and flomu), and so on.
The thing is, in real life, about a third of the people that I know seem different. On the Internet, almost everybody that I know… seem the same.
All we are are text to other people. If I write exactly the same way as somebody else, you cannot tell the difference between him and me. If I suddenly switched identities with that person (and we each happen to know everybody that we know), nobody would notice a difference. Thus, these online groups are people who write similarly to each other – I can hardly tell the difference in tone between members in a group. In my eyes, everyone online is in a group (including groups of ones).
As a result of my group-separation, changing usernames doesn’t screw me up. When somebody changes his username, having no other means to differentiate him from any other member of the same group, I treat him as I would any other member of the group. It really says something when he doesn’t notice a change in my behaviour towards him – for my behaviour didn’t change, it remained the same. I treat everybody in each group the same way.
If this were in real life, would it be stereotyping? Perhaps it would – judging a person merely by how he presents his words. I know many idiots in real life who type eloquently online (for example, myself); conversely, I know many (i.e. one) geniuses in real life who type like fucking retarded 12-year-olds online (not going to name names). Yet, it’s the /tone/ that stands out online, not the presentation. What types of things each person talks about.
Would that also be stereotyping? It’d be like treating two people the same way purely because they both like to talk about baseball. Am I doing this online simply because it’s easy to do so, and much harder to make each of these ~400 people that I frequently talk to online feel unique to myself? Am I doing this online simply because the only interactions I have with them is through text, and those interactions are fleeting, 140-character-long ones?
Or am I doing this online because I’m also doing this in real life? Even in real life, despite whatever groups one tries to put himself into, everybody in my class is already divided into four groups in my mind’s eye – the ‘social group’ (horny boys who want girls and horny girls who want boys), the ‘athletes group’ (surprisingly, most athletes I know aren’t that into girls), the ‘nerd group’ (people who describe themselves as nerds, and are usually held in high regard by other classmates; they aren’t actually that smart), and the ‘losers group’ (of which I am a proud member). I treat everybody who comes from each of these four groups similarly, to the point that even if somebody isn’t an athlete and I group them into the athletes group, I’ll still treat them as a member of the athletes group.
So, is this bad? It can’t be bad for us to all /realize/ that we’re grouping people (consciously or subconsciously) into groups, but is it bad to group them in the first place?