Much to the chagrin of my slightly younger self, I have started using TikTok. Yes, the app that I have widely deemed as the most vile for consuming social media has charmed me into creating short form video content.

Earlier today, I opened up the app and found the “Suggested accounts” pop-up. There was a single name on the list, and after a bit of googling, I found out it was a friend from college. I had ensured that my account, just like on all other social media apps, was not connected to anything that could be traced back to people I know. But, alas.

I think it’s common to feel embarrassed when someone you know finds out about your “content creation” platform. To an extent, it feels like stripping down in front of a partner for the first time—except it’s in front of an X number of people that you know (but not really) and with whom you have no desire of sharing an intimate facet of yourself. It’s common to feel this at first, yet I have felt this way for years.

There’s something about others witnessing some part of my identity—whether it’s from attending the same school or simply knowing them on a personal level—that immediately makes their opinion of myself weigh more than a rando online.

I’ve gone to the extent of deactivating personal accounts to prevent them from being further traced back my content creation platforms. It’s as if I’ve had to remove parts of my personal footprints online in order to make space for my online persona.

At one point, l quit all social media platforms but YouTube (which has never impeached on my anonymity, for that matter) because it felt like I was working towards becoming a walking ad for companies. I was convinced that I was doing it for the ethics, but it was mostly just a very personal matter of anonymity.

With the boom of the Web3, we can already see social media transforming into something more autonomous for the individual content creator. There will come a time where creators can monetize their content without depending on ads or middlemen, and I’m excited for that. It won’t be anonymous as all online activity is traceable, but at least I won’t have to worry about the platform spreading informing across my online selves.

I think it’s fine to want to stay anonymous. Lots of people do it for reasons beyond that of just embarrassment. But I think it’s something else when I freak out over a minor incident that causes me exactly zero harm. I still cringe at any of my old content; some days it’s fine, some days I wish I could start all over.

I am inclined to end this post on a high note, but evidently this is not something that I can resolve over the course of a few paragraphs.