Virtual Self

After thinking about it and talking to David, I believe we have found another source of some of my anxiety with the virtual world. For me, the virtual version of myself is a true representation of the inner me. In my mind,  I am fully exposed online and at times I am unable to recognize that the people in the virtual world are not right here looking at me. Logically I know that this is not true, but it is still the feeling of being completely vulnerable. And with that feeling comes the waiting for my past “real” world experiences to take place. Although I am fully aware that the physical and the virtual are two different places, it still feels just as real to me as if I was in the same room with you, the reader.

I reveal things about myself on this blog that I do not in my real life (with most people, anyway).

I have a few people who I am now able to confide in almost fully, like my Mom (now that our relationship has had much healing), my aunt and a close friend. The only person who gets about 98% of all of the goings on in my head would be David. The other 2% is not purposely undisclosed – it would be things I don’t feel are necessary or are just silly ramblings going on in my head that lead to bigger things that I mention to him later. I have learned to censor certain information for each person in my life, except David. That is why I need limited amount of relationships in the “real” world because I am unable to keep up the rules for each person. Another thing that I now understand is that censoring myself and wearing a mask are two different things. I am not hiding myself if I censor, but only hiding information that may upset or make others feel uncomfortable.

I have this  problem with feeling like I have disclosed 100% of the hidden information on my blog.

Then I realize that I have not. I will also realize that I have made a post or left a comment on someone else’s blog without the full disclosed information. I don’t know the “social rules” for the virtual world, so I automatically say whatever and then panic. At times, I feel as though I am going to appear as if I am lying or a fraud or phony, simply because I did not give a detailed account of every event and the situation of the circumstances or reasons behind what I’ve written.  But I don’t hold others to that standard and scrutinize their comments that way. I am very understanding about the fact that I can’t possibly have all the information. I understand that they are sharing bits and pieces of their life or feelings and it is not the 100% full picture.

I am perfectly fine with that and I understand it.

As I was talking to David, he shared with me that it is impossible for me to give every single detail about my situation and that others really do not want ALL of the exact details. He explained to me that it is ok for me to share what I do share and that people will take what they want from whatever they read and move on. It is no big deal. It is all ok. I go back and forth feeling the assurance of this. I am not sure why I am so hard on myself and expect myself to be absolutely perfect in this area. I am not sure why I feel that if I misspell a word, (which I do often) that people will discount everything I have to say. I am not sure why if I do not give all of the exact details to my life story or situation, that people will think that I am a liar.

I do not know why it is all or nothing.

I do feel vulnerable on the web, but I have not had any real reason to feel that it will all go bad in a moments notice. I do know that this is a cycle that I have been observing in my posts since I started writing. I go through cycles of anxiety and fears. They are usually enhanced by some sort of trigger. I then go through cycles of confidence and feeling accepted. When either my virtual self or “real” world self feels threatened, I begin to go into a panic. I do not see a separation in either of the two.

I have a hard time seeing a separation for others as well.

Whatever I am feeling is expressed in both worlds but this is not the case for many people. There are many people who have a virtual self that reflects who they want to be, not who they are in real life and that I find very confusing. This would also explain my great confusion and frustration with Facebook. There was a time that I would have seen the difference between real life and their Facebook profiles and felt like they were liars, but I am gaining understanding about how people are. I may not comprehend, but I can understand by finding something  to relate it to in my life.

Reading books on social skills has helped a lot.

What is interesting is that most people who talk to me would never know all of the confusion going on in my head. They would see me as perfectly normal, mirroring them or reading something inaccurate from my blank face. In the past I would go home and try to figure it all out, to no avail. I have applied this thinking to my “real” world, about people not always being fully themselves but I have not done it completely in the virtual world. I also have not given myself freedom in the virtual world. I need to be just as compassionate toward myself as I am for others in this area, now that I understand a bit.

I think this may be a source of my anxiety.

I am afraid that I am not being the “real” me in both worlds and if that is the case, then I am a liar. This thinking cannot be true. I am not a liar. My fear of being falsely seen as a liar is deep-rooted from people not believing me or not listening to me throughout my life. As I write this I am thinking, just as I did for my Forgive My Grammar post, that I am setting myself free from being bound to this way of thinking. I understand that I am allowed to write whatever I feel and it’s ok if I do not have every single detail put on here so that people will understand completely. It’s perfectly fine to have as much or as little information that I feel necessary and that is not a reflection on the quality of my character. It sounds kind of silly now that I write this.

On to more freedom in my thinking and writing!

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4 thoughts on “Virtual Self

  1. Aspergirl Maybe

    I’m curious what books you have found most helpful. I struggle to answer questions sometimes as well because of not knowing how much detail is too little or too much, and I usually tend toward the “too much” side of things, unfortunately for those listening to me!

  2. Angel Post author

    The best book that I have read so far is The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism By Temple Grandin and Sean Barron. http://www.amazon.com/Unwritten-Rules-Social-Relationships-Perspectives/dp/193256506X/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    Tony Attwood’s Book The Complete Guide to Aspergers Syndrome helped me also. http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Guide-Aspergers-Syndrome/dp/1843104954

    The other books that I have read have been books for the kids or their social curriculum. I know that sounds silly but doing the exercises and applying them have given me a better understanding of social situations. I wrote a post that has a list of them and some other resources, but I also found that reading and then writing our own social stories helped me. I wrote them for them Daniel but made up my own grown up versions in my head. I have by no means arrived but I do a lot better at recognizing in some cases. Most cases I still keep going and going, but have been able to recognize what the person face meant later, after I am going over the whole thing in my head. :-)

    Here are the other posts: http://www.mindretrofit.com/2010/08/10/social-skills-and-autism-learning-helps/

  3. Bruce (born 2b me)

    Hi Angel,

    I can spend 20 to 90 minutes fretting over one comment I am writing on someone’s blog, or on a reply to a comment on my blog. Posts often take me 3 to 10 hours. I think my record was 14-16 hours!

    Anyway I have been trying to remind myself that putting in an extra couple of hours of fussing over choosing just the right word is counter-productive. Better to let it go at “good enough” rather than exhaust myself striving for perfection.

    Rather than my usual thinking of “either/or” I have been trying to cultivate a “both/and” mindset. So a post or comment can be both imperfect and good at the same time. But it is a struggle for me.

    This sentence in your first paragraph of this post, “… waiting for my past “real” world experiences to take place” was an eye-opener for me. I think that is the root of all my anxieties that cause me to fuss so much over whether I have got it “perfect.” I don’t want to suffer any more of those rejections!

    But the longer I blog the more I realize that the people of Bloggyland are very forgiving and accepting of imperfection so I am gradually feeling more free.

    Yes! “On to more freedom in my thinking and writing!”

    Thanks for sharing these insights.
    Bruce :)

  4. Angel Post author

    Hi Bruce,

    Oh, goodness, I have done the same thing over comments and posts. I usually have about 5 or more waiting to be posted but I go over them a million time before I do. I have gotten better at just writing what I am feeling “in the moment” and publishing it but the other ones that I have been thinking about for months, then finally get written, usually take me at 3 to 10 days to finally post. I completely understand and know these feelings all too well that you have here in your comment.

    You are right about “Bloggyland” too, I am finding the more I put myself out there the more I am seeing that it is actually a very forgiving and accepting place, though I think that is a hard thing for any of us on the spectrum to grasp. We have just had too many bad experiences, but with the more positive ones we have, it gets better and better. :-)

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