I used to get a lot of anonymous messages on a semi-popular blog that I wrote from 2008-2015. My style was diaristic, confessional. (It still is.) I wrote under a pseudonym, but my real identity always percolated beneath the surface of the text—this was when it still felt like it was possible to balance the fictive and the real. Not that I know what ‘real’ means, now or then . . . maybe it’s more accurate to say to balance the created self within the fractured reality of the lived one.
The messages ranged from admiring to hateful. People professed their love to me, but others wanted me to know they thought I was a stupid bitch who slept around. In a way, either polarity ultimately flows in the same direction. To exist online is to allow people to believe that they know you. Sometimes people even think they own you—that your joy or your suffering belongs to them.
Do you ever think about how no one knows the real you, not even you? Do you ever think about how the real is just an elision of whatever’s convenient, how it changes from moment to moment? Do you ever think about how writing is just another way of making a false contour around something that can’t be set down?