Why Does The Internet Lack Authentic Voices?

Brain Dump Oct 24, 2020

This is something that has been bothering me for a while. I have been scrolling through the internet for about a decade—which is to say, half of my life— and I've been doing it (slightly more) intentionally for ~last four years. During this time I've read countless posts, blogs, feeds.

One thing in particular has drawn my attention: The internet has a deficit of people who are truly themselves.

What do I mean by "themselves"? Well, imagine that you recorded a transcript of a dear friend talking to you.

Think of what words they would choose to talk to you, the tone they would employ, the jokes they would make, the experiences they would share. Now compare it to your experiences online— when's the last time someone online made you feel like you were listening to a friend?

Why does this happen? Why does internet content lack that feeling of intimacy?

Is it because we live in real life, and the internet is simply not that? Is it because you cannot analyze a person's micro-expressions or feel their warmth? Is it just me? Probably, to some extent.

But I don't think these are the main factors, and I certainly don't think that these are the only reasons.

Here are a few more I have in mind.


You don't know who you're talking to.

Everyone mirrors the personality and behavior of the person they're talking to— we have actual mirror neurons for it.

If someone says hi in French, you're going to respond in French (given you know enough baguette). If a kid beams at you when they see you after a while, you're going to squeal and excitedly take them into your arms (make sure you know the kid, otherwise you're going to be a pedo).

However, many take this to the next level. They will match your personality or the temperament of the group with such great fervor that they completely conceal what makes them, them. Whereby at the end of talking to them, there's nothing you can remember them by. Nothing remarkable. Nothing vulnerable. Nothing... human. In fact, they can completely lose sight of themselves.

Now imagine that instead of a group of maybe 10 people, you now have to match the personalities of thousands and millions.

You have to say things that do not upset all of these people. You have to say things that none of the bad eggs among them could potentially use against you. Very quickly, authenticity dies.


The internet is a stage, so why not act?

People feel judged for their intellect. Public speaking does not come easy. We want to be validated by others. We want to be treated with respect and admiration.

We do not want to become victims of the trolls, or worse, of enforcers of cancel culture— and there are plenty of those on the internet. It's important to sound smart, or so it would seem.

At the very least, it's easy to do so. It's even more important to not sound dumb. You want to impress your friends. On the internet, it's the same. You want to get more likes, more retweets, more shares, more views.

You want your idols to notice you. You want to be outrageous, but within social boundaries.


...At this point I have run out of things to say. I'll talk about this some other day, when I remember why I started writing this post. See ya.

Wait. Maybe that's one reason? Do we avoid topics such as this one online, to save ourselves from embarrassing ourselves? Maybe we don't want to really say what we think, because we don't know what we're thinking; because what we think changes moment to moment.

Maybe we refuse to reveal our true selves out of fear that doing so will forever freeze it in time— that we won't be able to change, because adopting a new identity might make us a hypocrite.

But we all are hypocrites— that's the beauty of it, isn't it? Somehow, I can feel that this leads into Douglas's strange loops, but I lack the words to express myself.

Anyways, I stop now. Perhaps this will give you something to mull over.

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Kifah Meeran (MaskyS)

Hi, I'm Kifah, a creator from Mauritius. I read code, books, and people. I'm also passionate about cogsci, design, programming, and life in general. More about me on https://maskys.com

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