December 21, 2018 § Leave a comment
Who Am I? A question I think everybody is familiar with and one that most expect to find the answer to in adulthood. I can’t help but be disappointingly aware that I am no closer to finding my personal identity. On the contrary, I’m more confused than ever and I think the digital world has contributed to my confusion. The internet allows you to create a convincing façade.
As a child I was an outgoing oddity with a strong sense of self. It was after beginning school where I learned being forthright could be adverse. Before school you are generally encouraged to be exploitative and express true emotions but when beginning schooling I wasn’t just introduced the ABC’s but also anxiety. Scolding would be the result of speaking without the raising an arm, doodling, humming, “poor” posture etc. The lack of small creative outlets pushed me deeper into my fantasies where it became more familiar than my reality. Befriending my school peers was uncommon too. My enthusiasm in fantasy games didn’t entice my peers and they quickly withdrew. I was quick to adopt the reality that most other children in class preferred competitive games which triggered my anxiety, resulting in becoming more alienated.
At twelve my school introduced a new subject, Drama. It instantly became my favourite subject. It encouraged me to delve into my fantasies and bring up all those different versions of myself I had only let loose in my mind.
Eventually I started adopting traits from my characters in my daily life. It inspired the way I dressed, spoke and even my gaze, trying to tailor the perfect Nicole everybody would love. I felt I was improving my insecurities but it actually fueled sadness as I was doing the opposite of what I desired. I was presenting a false Nicole by modulating my creative energies to fit into social normality when I really wanted to communicate truthfully and entertain those around with creativity.
At one stage I dressed in gothic attire, only in the evenings. This was when I discovered internet profiling websites and this gothic character became known online as, Winter Frost. In the daytime I would dress in beautiful vintage inspired attire and be, Nicole Melrose, the happy go-lucky bombshell. People couldn’t believe the gothic images and the bombshell images were the same person and for some reason that excited me. I also created online profiles for each of them. Nicole Melrose and Winter Frost were now two separate people. My social life bloomed and I developed two different social groups (online and offline). Facebook allowed me to view the “news” discussed in Nicole and Winter’s worlds. They were even invited to different events.
Eventually frustration grew as I wanted their worlds to combine. Living two lives was difficult. They had both been regarded as popular figures in this digital world but It never truly satisfied me or made me feel I had sincerely connected with anybody; but I felt beholden to it because it had given me some sort of social life.
Gradually Winter Frost faded away and I focused on Nicole Melrose. I Still have no idea how people really portray me. Even when receiving copious “likes” it doesn’t make me feel I’ve connected.
Also once my concern in my career was being black listed. A new concern is having my online profile (Instagram) @Nicole_Melrose removed. My fan base would be scattered and almost impossible to repair quickly. I want to preserve my fan base and communicate with you more sincerely; though honesty I have no clue “who” or what I am preserving because I’m not sure who I am. I’m caught in the Internet’s web of posting photographs of myself giving the illusion that I am fully rounded in personality and appearance. Dr Aaron Humphrey gives a few good examples in his comic strips, one being, “Another way that user profiles and audience personas are similar is that both are constructed representations — masks designed in the shape of individuals” (Humphrey 2017, p.6).
I’ve worn so many “masks” through my life but wearing them online is far too easy to get away with. Online I am Nicole Melrose, a vintage inspired bombshell who radiates through her sexuality in photographs hoping, to be your pin-up girl.
Venetian Carnival Mask – creative commons by gnuckx – (CC0 by .10) – 16/12/18
I’m not saying everything I write or the pictures I put up are all deceptions… I just don’t know how to engage with more sincerity online. I do have a twitter account which sometimes I use to broadcast sincere thoughts or epiphany: NicoleMelroseT
A large part of my problem is that I’m still struggling to find a deeper understanding of myself personally and I’m not sure how to approach this journey of self-discovery. It’s definitely not a lack of confidence either. I just honesty have no clue who I am and the internet makes it too easy to continue being deceptive… who am I really deceiving? You who read and see my photographs; or myself? Both. In the end you will finish reading this, move onto something else the internet offers, forgetting about Nicole Melrose until the next thing of mine reveals itself online. I’m able to stop writing but I can’t escape the confused Nicole. It’s become very apparent to me that now I’ve addressed this confusion so it’s time for me to be mindful of discovering my values and formulate my own purpose.
Dr Aaron Humphrey, AH 2017, ‘User Personas and User Media Profiles’ reading online, vol 3 no. 2, retrieved 2018, < https://ojs.deakin.edu.au/index.php/ps/article/view/708/653 >
All photographs taken by Nicole Melrose unless specified.