What’s your Internet age?

by Ginger on January 4, 2011

in Blogging & Social Media, Random

I’ve had this weird thought in my head for a few months, and I figured I’d share it with you all to see what you think.

See, I was wondering about Internet age.

Not how long you’ve been on the Internet but more…what age you appear through your interactions online.

This all started a few months back when I was aghast to find out that I was older than some of my favorite bloggers. (there are more of you as well, but these are the two that started it all). Not because I feel old, and not because they seem old, but because they seem so with it. So…grown-up. I feel like I sound 12 next to them at times. Then there are some bloggers who are older than me, which also surprised me because I feel like I come off as older than them.

Now, maybe it’s about stages in life a little–it’s easier for me to see Accidents* as older than me because her kid is older than mine so she has the benefit of experience I don’t have yet, for example. But it’s also not just that. Some of the people I feel older than? Way further “ahead” in the life game. Some of the people I feel younger than? Single and unfettered by progeny, living up the single life. So while life stages may play a part in it, it’s not the whole case.

Maybe it’s writing style. I mean, it’s very clear I’ve got a super conversational style here. Other writers are more polished than I am. Some of you have advanced degrees in the various humanities–which, in lots of cases means you’ve had a few more years of writing formally. So maybe that’s part of it.

Of course, personality probably plays a part. There are always those folks who are true old souls & some who are truly young at heart. Maybe that spirit is just coming through in online?

Then there’s the final element I’ve thought of–the veil of the Internet. What I mean by that is that online, you don’t have the visual cues you do in person. You aren’t looking someone in the face while you’re reading (especially when you read in a reader). You only have their online personality to go off of, leaving their age up to interpretation. (Not that you know exactly how old someone is because you look at them, but you can usually get pretty close. Usually).

So what do you think? Am I the only one who has been surprised by someone’s age after assuming their Internet age? How old do you think YOU appear online? What about me?  I mean, I know I’m 31. I know I’ve told ya’ll I’m 31. But do I come off as 31?

Or am I just thinking of weird stuff that no one else does?

*And can we all just agree that it has been a sad, sad Internet without her? Snippets on Twitter aren’t cutting it missy.

jana January 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Oh, I agree. Get back on that blog, lady.

This happens to me all the time, both on the internet and in real life. In real life, I am a grad student surrounded by 20-somethings. On the ‘nets, too. And I am 33. Waaaaaaaay old.

Megan January 5, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Nah, you’re not the only one who thinks about these things. I am aware that I sound pretty young, especially on Twitter, but probably also in the blog. I like to be silly and have fun with language. I definitely have a conversational style, and it was always really hard to overcome when I was writing papers in college.

I think you seem young at times, but you also make me feel even younger when you talk about work stuff. You have a real job with responsibilities WAY beyond my capacity for understanding. Just like when the academics get going with their talk, I feel about ten years old. Even though, I *should* be one of them.

Interesting topic!

Perpetua January 6, 2011 at 5:40 am

Agreed with Megan: you have a real job, and you make apps and decisions. That makes you “feel” so much older, even though that’s pretty much what a 31-year-old should be doing. It’s just that I’m surrounded by grad student types (and my husband is in high tech, where no one ever really grows up), so you seem like a real, bona fide grown-up to me. 🙂

I don’t remember being surprised by your age though, I think because I knew you were 31, and I’m 31 too, so I think it was always in the back of my head.

And I hear you about Accidents. I can’t believe she’s as young as she is, mainly because we do the same job and she’s so much better at it than I am.

clara January 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I usually think in terms of decades – so’n’so appears to be in her 30s, the other one in her 20s – so yeah, you are 30s to me.

Age can be obscured by familiarity (or lack of) with internet etiquette and/or personal writing style. I followed a link yesterday to a guy who – I think? – was in his 30s but wrote like a 17 year old. It was his first blog, third post. When people first burst on the scene they so often want to seem more serious or smart so they write like old people. But really, they sound like kids trying to sound old.

I am 36. Almost 37. Which, when I write it down, makes me kind of twitchy. So bye.

Elizabeth January 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm

People never know how old I am–even in real life. Several people have assumed I’m at least 30, and that was when I was 23. I usually lump people into 5 year chunks, like, oh she must be between 25 and 30ish, and I’m not always right. I’m usually more surprised when someone is younger than I thought, but I think I tend to highball age.

kate January 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

Took me awhile to respond because I was thinking about your perceived age – internet age that is. I think that you fit right with what a 31-year old should be doing and what I would expect. And, I love your conversational style and the way that you open up blog postings for discussion. I am trying to do this on my blog more…

I thought that this post was interesting because sometimes I feel like an old hen who doesn’t fit in with my late-20s/early-30s crowd. And, it is so refreshing to find someone (even if it’s online) that is living this same life with a kid, full-time job, eat dinner at home, veg-out with a book and doesn’t just want to hang out in bars, drink, sleep around and do silly stuff. Those are my rambling thoughts…

You are so-31 and a cool one at that!

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