We’ve established that the internet is a realm of doubt and uncertainty, where nothing is verifiable. We cannot be sure our comrades online are who they say they are. Everything about them could be a lie, their photos photoshopped or stolen, their biographies complete fictions, their motivations deeply suspect and often suppressed and hidden even from themselves. We can’t even be sure they are human, rather than bots. The suspicion engendered by all this has led to a whole new category of online behaviour: Catfishing. And no matter how much catfishing the internet hosts, it is sure to sustain an even vaster network of discourse, discussion and anxiety around it, simply by being named and defined.
Online we can construct wonderful, aspirant, entirely fictional personas, but, to do so is to indulge in make-believe, and we know it isn’t true. Others may be unkind if they refuse to play along, but we ought not to be able to force them to say they do, and we cannot force them to think it. So, we must live with their suspicion and scepticism (or suspected scepticism) adding greatly to our insecurity and existential angst.
You cannot become someone else, simply by wanting it and then telling people you are what you want to be. Wanting will not make it so. We know this in our hearts. By not accepting the truth of our flawed and limited selves, our identities become increasingly false and artificial.