Blogging as Online Drag

This post is in response to the daily prompt from the Daily Press.  Today’s word is “costume.” 

We’re encouraged by many to be “authentic” in building our blogging identities–post real photos,  talk candidly about our real lives, and so forth. Personally, I like to think of blogging as online drag.   No, I’m not a drag queen, though as a female in science and technology, I have often been required to dress a certain way, speak a certain way, be a certain way.   

I’ve always loved the statement that RuPaul made about life:

We’re born naked and the rest is drag. 

Because darling, online you can be anything, but in the end,  no matter where you go, there you are.  People are often caught in terrible ruts, caught in identities that are constructed for them by the social worlds we live in. Drag is about embracing a different reality than the one we have to put up with, going into the world of forbidden masks and strange costumes.  We’re all lip-synching for our lives.

As an OldTimer,  I’ve played (and still play) on text-based games since 1991.  No video, no voice chat, we just became friends through typing.  Blogging is like that.   Over the years I’ve met men who portray women, women who portray men, and I can never tell the one from the other, the fake from the authentic–because there was always a kernel of hidden truth in whomever they portrayed–some aspect of themselves that could only be revealed by muting the other parts of themselves.

One of my close friends was a woman I had known online for fifteen years–talking to her everyday (via text) –who presented herself as a man online.   Only a few people knew she was a woman (and a lesbian).  She thought surely she had told me — or that one of our mutual friends had of course told me at some point over the years but nooooooo.   🙂  it was hilarious, standing next to her, talking for a good hour, before I realized who she (or rather, he)  was.

Anonymity is not just about hiding the unbeautiful parts of ourselves. It is also about revealing who we might be, inside. An online persona can be used to build confidence, try out new ways of thinking and problem solving, or release ourselves from the constraints of the world that don’t fit who we are in total.

There are of course, dangers. We see around us, everyday,  bloggers who display the ugliest parts of their natures.  They use anonymity as a cloak so that they can say terrible things, encourage others to hate and engage in violent and terrible behaviors. The horrific lack of civility is not because of anonymity.  It is because of anonymity used to escape moral and civil boundaries, to escape all accountability.  But in the end, no matter where you go, there you are.  We all carry the mark of our deeds and words online into the cool light of the real day.

Drag is about power–the power to define oneself and set the code by which one lives. Blogging has that kind of power. Writing and creating has that kind of power.

With that, I’m off to my tai chi class.  Thanks for dropping by.  ~Lola

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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