For the past few weeks, I’ve been on Facebook only through the persona of my miniature Schnauzer, Rudy. (Reggie also has a page, but I hardly ever log in as her.) I created pages for the dogs awhile back to give me a way not only to keep an eye on my own profile (which I suspended when I started this blog) but also to try some FB services without exposing my personal information. And, oh yes, to have a bit of fun.
Impersonating my dog has been an eye-opening experience for me that has fundamentally shifted how I see myself as well as how I choose to participate in social media.
The biggest revelation is that when I am online as Rudy, I see my FB friends and their activities in a completely different way. Before I post anything under his name, I ask myself “would Rudy say this?” I delete most of what I type because the answer is almost always “no.” Rudy does not judge. He does not criticize. He is not sarcastic. He has never defriended anybody and he does not have a Restricted List. In fact, he loves everybody and isn’t afraid to say so, and he will accept any friend request he gets (I don’t even know some of his friends). Every single thing on his page is visible to “Everyone” because he has nothing to hide. He never discusses politics or religion. He has few opinions and expresses them in only the mildest terms. He’s happy when others are happy, sympathetic when they are sad. He has no ego so he isn’t invested in whether people like or comment on his posts. Which is good, because most of the time, they don’t. Rudy doesn’t mind. He knows that people are busy and that his post is just one of dozens or hundreds that his friends have to sift through every day in their newsfeeds. He will post again tomorrow. He’s cool.
One weird thing I’ve noticed is that some people seem to think that Rudy is actually Rudy and not my alter ego. It’s an odd bit of illusion that apparently gets easier to accept as real the more time you spend looking at it.
Now I, on the other hand, have been known to feel critical and judgmental on occasion, although I generally keep it to myself. With very few exceptions for friends of friends who will vouch for them, I don’t friend anyone I haven’t met in real life. I’ve had to defriend some people to keep the drama level down. I have a couple of social/political causes that I am enthusiastic about and like to promote. I’ve gotten my feelings hurt more than twice because people ignore what I post.
Rudy and I are alike in that we both regularly comment on other people’s statuses, and regularly post pictures, links and observations. We really do like our friends, and we want to hear what they’re up to as well as be supportive of them however we can. We love to interact.
Now that this blog is off and running, I will return to FB as myself for three reasons.
First, it’s just awkward trying to figure out how to let people know what I’m up to while being Rudy.
Second, I want to be able to comment on politics, religion, movies, real estate, current events and other topics about which dogs simply have no knowledge or opinion. I have had a lot of fun with my canine profiles, but I do know where the line is between fun and just plain strange.
Third, Rudy’s friend set and mine overlap quite a bit, but they are not identical. I miss keeping up with my own FB friends who have not chosen to friend Rudy also.
By playing my dog on the internet, I’ve been able to find a more accepting, more compassionate, more forgiving side of myself that I hope to be able to carry forward when posting under my own name. Maybe if Rudy wouldn’t say it, I shouldn’t, either.
I’m looking forward to going back on FB as myself, but will be making some changes in how I participate. I will detail those changes in tomorrow’s post.