Letter Writing: Inu x Boku SS, the Old Fashioned, and the Social Age

Inu x Boku SS letter Ririchiyo

Letter exchange is featured prominently in Inu x Boku SS, an anime that primarily deals with various aspects of social relationships. Ririchiyo has trouble expressing herself without resorting to her aggressive, harsh defense mechanism.[1] Miketsukami has little self-esteem, self-respect, or even sense of self. As far as relationships are concerned—social or romantic—neither has any tangible bond of note.

Inu Boku SS Miketsukami boy toy

In one (or rather, the only) gripping Miketsukami monologue, he talks about wearing masks as an escape. He pleases everyone through playing specific roles, whether that be the spineless servant or the boy toy.

Inu x Boku SS Miketsukami computer

In some ways, I am very much reminded of our online presence in this social age. Hidden behind avatars, profiles, and resumes, we are able to carefully create these personae, who are usually distinct from how we act in person. For example, our tweets do not correspond completely to our conversations outside of the digital world. Similar, maybe, but still different. Traits may be exaggerated, toned down, created, and silenced. (I certainly do not talk about sex all the freaking time when I am away from my laptop, as I do here.[2]) We, to the best of our efforts, shape how we appear to others.

It is easy to see this in the context of status updates. Moreover, I imagine we all do this in any social situation, digital or not. The social age simply allows most of us to more easily manipulate words. In the same way Miketsukami manipulates women—he has his fox-like charms and fake smiles—we have our cartoon heads.

But taken another way, are we not really revealing our true desires, our ideals, through these written characters? Are these really masks or actually extensions of ourselves?

Inu x Boku SS pen letter

Ririchiyo and Miketsukami eventually find solace in letter writing.

Miketsukami describes a gradual process of finally finding himself as he writes these letters. This carefully created personality, then, really is not a mask. Rather, it is what he aspires to be—the kind and caring fiancé to Ririchiyo. And in sculpting this image, his self identity grows to match this ideal. On the other hand, Ririchiyo’s words via pen and paper is a far more intimate portrayal of her feelings than her speech in person. Writing, whether old-fashioned or typed, offers an unparalleled level of preciseness.

Inu x Boku SS mailbox

Miketsukami and Ririchiyo represent two paradigms in their approach to letter exchange: the former seeks fraud, and the latter seeks frankness. Yet somehow, they both converge to create this genuine relationship and sense of selves. If Whorf and Davidson are right—that language determines thought and belief—our identities are then at least somewhat limited by our linguistic abilities. These letters thus hold that much more significance as Ririchiyo and Miketsukami’s sole medium of honest self-expression.

The same holds for many of us in this social age. In fact, “in real life” is mere rhetoric.[3] For us denizens of the internet, internet life is part of our real life. It is a place where we find ourselves. It is where we are most able to express ourselves. And most importantly, it is where we are who we say we are.

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  1. Ryan A. writes a brilliant post about Ririchiyo’s personality in his post:
    Inu x Boku’s Tasteful Tsun: Ririchiyo Shirakiin’s Vicious Lip
  2. Maybe I have too much pent-up sexual frustration…
  3. Vucub Caquix was the first to champion his distaste for “IRL” to me some time back.

About Yi

''lol...you're either sleeping or eating'' ''oh and watching anime'' ''and indulge in fashion.'' ... Ahh the busy life~
This entry was posted in Anime/ Manga, Editorial, Inu x Boku SS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Letter Writing: Inu x Boku SS, the Old Fashioned, and the Social Age

  1. gozieson says:

    No one really uses snail mail for letters anymore, it’s now just typing in out in virtual words and sending it via cable to the other person on the receiving end. Nowadays, it seems that less and less people appreciate or realize the value of a hand-written note or letter. In this fast paced world, we all want to get things done as soon as possible and when that happens, we sometimes might compromise the deep thoughts and feelings we have with the ones we care about.

    Personally, I haven’t hand-written any mail to others and would probably not do so in the near future, but if there is one thing I would do, it’s that I’ll be face-to-face with the person I want to be with and to create fond memories with them which would last a lifetime.

    • Yi says:

      Yea, it’s a shame that snail mail is mostly outdated and replaced by emails, especially among the younger and middle-aged generations. I always found letters to be much more personal, intimate, and romantic. Come to think of it, the last letter I received was over a year ago…

      It almost feels as if with the increased speed, efficiency, and convenience the digital age brings is a gradual loss of extended face-to-face time. It’s a fair trade-off, maybe. As an aside, I hate when people text others while I’m talking to them, especially during dinner or something. It annoys me to no end.

      “if there is one thing I would do, it’s that I’ll be face-to-face with the person I want to be with and to create fond memories with them which would last a lifetime.”
      Yes! Although such memories tend to be very very rare in any social context. ^ ^

  2. Marina says:

    I’ve thought about online identity a lot, since various online anime communities have become such a big part of my daily life. Comparing my character “IRL” and “Marina” as I go online, it’s interesting to see where the two overlap. I have much less hesitation in commenting on a stranger’s blog or forum post than I do trying to talk to someone I don’t know in person. I also take a ridiculous amount of pleasure in getting feedback from one of my blog readers, or having a comment I posted on another’s blog replied to by the author–yet, I tend to feel awkward when asked to go hang out. I agree that a good portion of how I am online is an ideal of mine: I would love to be more open and engaging with others, and yet I can never seem to do it when face-to-face with others.

    The letter writing in Inu x Boku SS was charming and reminded me of when I would spend hours trying to pick out the stationary for my mood and purpose. I still have a select few people who I exchange snail mail with, and receiving a letter in the post box always gives me a level of excitement that is never quite matched by an E-mail or online personal message.

    • DNK says:

      “I tend to feel awkward when asked to go hang out”, sorry to comment, but couldn’t stay away. We always have that same problem… It is a fact that in society there are different personality’s, a even truer fact is that some of these make other’s go away… But, a computer doesn’t have one, and as such, we tend to be able to fully express our self’s being one, it’s not that we are shy, but, (personally) I would say, others as well as society pushes us, into this model, and that causes us to retreat into safety, and a physical good as a computer can mean that safety since we have control over it… Face-to-face we are as strong as we believe, we can be giant’s or ant’s sized.

      • Yi says:

        “But, a computer doesn’t have one”

        While I think I understand where your point is coming from, I hesitate to say that the difference between our attitudes toward social life is because computers don’t have personalities. In effect, online interaction is still interacting with real personalities. Computers is simply a mode of communication that gives us greater control for self-representation. (Just clearing up some wording.)

    • Yi says:

      @Marina: That I can sympathize with a bit—that we are a lot more social behind our online identity than our “real life” identity. For myself personally, this is certainly true too. I’m much more open to approach a stranger or crash a “party” on the internet. However, I do feel that this is perhaps a false comparison. Compare our approach to social interactions (and social activeness) online to offline has some inherent problems. The difference in medium and modes of conversation makes a big difference, most notably real-time conversation versus comments and posts. At least for me, while I consider myself super social both online and offline, and love hanging out, my actual activity is very much influenced by the mode of communication.

      Still, I agree. For me, my online persona represents a more controlled version of myself (at least rhetorically) that I would like to work towards offline. i.e. More precise with my words, more open about certain things, less about others, think first before talking… etc.

      ” I still have a select few people who I exchange snail mail with, and receiving a letter in the post box always gives me a level of excitement that is never quite matched by an E-mail or online personal message.”
      Lucky!! I haven’t exchanged letters with anyone in years… I do have a lot of cute stationary as well though. ^ ^

  3. Smithy says:

    “Are we not really revealing our true desires, our ideals, through these written characters? Are these really masks or actually extensions of ourselves?”
    I do wonder what that actually says about some people (including myself). ^^;;

    But yes, I can see truth in that, after all when going to bars, clubs, or other social venues, don’t people put on masks there either? The online world just allows us to be more creative or extreme with those masks in a sense.

    Perhaps for some the online persona also plays a part because we life part of our hobby life through it, which is the case for me. While I do not shy away from admitting being an anime fan in real life, I don’t actively talk about it at work, in public because so little people around here (geographically) share such passions.

    And who’s to say deep down many of us don’t really dream or desire to escape into a world where we can be this online persona, free of some of the shackles reality places upon us.

    Overall most characters in “Inu x Boku SS” wore some kind of mask or rather, were more than what was apparent on the surface, like the episode focused on Karuta proves about her that’s she’s far sharper than people think. The same goes for Nobara, Kagerou and Zange, there’s more to them than meets the eye. Isn’t that true for people in real life as well to a degree?

    • Yi says:

      Exactly. We all put on “masks,” or rather, different aspects of ourselves in varying contexts. Our personas online is not anymore different from our personas in front of our parents, in the bar, with friends, on dates… etc.

      I live my hobby life through my online persona as well. And lately, I’ve gone back to shying away from admitting my being an anime fan (for one reason or another). So really, this is one of the few ways I can really interact with my hobby on a social basis. My escape from the shackles of reality indeed. ^ ^

      I think Karuta is wonderful. For me, she definitely steals the show. And I think you are absolutely right. Beneath that obliviousness, she is super sharp and calm about any situation. Also agreed that all the other characters as well (except maybe Ririchiyo and Watanuki) are like this as well.

      “Isn’t that true for people in real life as well to a degree?”
      Yes! We only show so much of ourselves in any context to any person.

      Thanks for the comment, maniac. ^ ^

  4. Vucub Caquix says:

    Lovely post, Yi! And I appreciate the mention! Truth be told, I’m a bit surprised you remembered that conversation we had. It felt like ages ago, and was probably one of many rants I threw out there.

    One of the things I appreciate about writing (at least digitally), is that it forces me to slow down and mentally assess what it is I mean to say, without falling behind my thoughts. I guess what I mean is, I think fairly quickly. It’s a bit of a result of having an addled attention span, but I find that verbal communication is my preferred method of communication as it requires the least amount of effort on my part to translate my thoughts into spoken words before my mind is distracted and finds itself elsewhere. It can get me into a bit of trouble if I don’t take enough care to form my words properly before I speak them, and emotions can easily be affected by how carefully or carelessly I choose to express myself.

    Letter writing, while romantic, is at the mercy of my physical ability to write out the symbols of my ideas as quickly as I wish to express them. It causes me to doubt every. single. letter. as. it. pours. from. my. pen. I double back, check what I mean, lose my track, circle around, rethink a thought, and the next thing I know I’ve barely written a sentence.

    This is what I’ve grown to appreciate about digital writing. No, it’s not as effortless as speaking aloud, but neither does it require the physical discipline to craft each letter of the alphabet individually. Thus, I slow down a bit and think my thoughts through, but the limiting aspect of the physicality of letter writing doesn’t hamper me.

    But this slight slow down is crucial. It’s what causes me to appreciate that which I mean to convey in what I send off into the void. Each and every one my words I want to imagine is still crafted with a measure of thought and care, despite the carelessness they may appear drenched in occasionally. Each key punched carries with it a tiny bit of feeling until it coalesces into the mood of a word that makes up the emotion of a sentence which manifests into the sentiment that coats an exchange.

    Recognizing what typing can mean for me, from there I can imagine the downright romance of a letter written out with your own hand. The ache in one’s finger’s and wrists lingering long after the words are no longer theirs.

    • Yi says:

      Credit where credit is dued. ^ ^

      I think this is one of your rants that really stuck with me (as well as another related talk we had about distance), because I think as a blogger, I always struggle about how much of any particular aspect of myself I want to reveal to others, and how segregated I want to keep my various social spheres. And with these different aspects all separated, it becomes easy to question which is my real, most comfortable persona… Internet, real life, or whatever.

      About writing itself. I hold an outdated romanticism about ink and paper. I love the way ink flows, and I like to play pretend whenever I write with a pen—imagine myself as an author in the old days. (As a sidenote, I had bought a typewriter when I was in college for similar silly reasons.)

      On a practical level, I find writing with pen also a bit easier. The individual ideas, as you say, may not be captured as quickly, but I find it much easier to organize thought, and create something coherent. My notes and drafts often include numerous arrows, pushing ideas to places, leading trains of thoughts, and working on flow. Shorthands, bullet points, outlines, to drafts. All are done efficiently with these arrows and underlines and circles and strike-throughs.

      I find it fascinating that your primary concern is grabbing all the ideas. I remember a chat with you and Emily, where you two described your complementary styles, and the editing that goes into your colloquiums. Perhaps that’s why the talking and literal discussion format suits you so well. In speech, we are most quickly able to deliver our free-flowing ideas.

      Whichever process we employ, however, I am sure we have both found our comfort and what works best for us. ^ ^

      Thanks for the comment, vuc. Always lovely to chat with you!

  5. Ryan A says:

    Are these really masks or actually extensions of ourselves?

    “We are all real people on the Internet, yet some of us are simply liars.” The one issue I have in answering this question is that there are people who deliberately miscast themselves in order to gain an advantageous position with “targeted” individuals. I’ll leave it at that and note that Ririchiyo’s case is what I often prefer to believe in people but know that individual cases of truer reveal cannot imply tautology. The inconsistencies in some personae reveal a deeper truth that is beyond the content of words.

    our identities are then at least somewhat limited by our linguistic abilities

    But I feel the greater limitation comes with action and non-verbal communication. I would go so far to suggest these are a greater indicator of identity than natural language for the fact that talk is cheap.

    “The way she stares out the window when I do something to upset her, becoming quiet and inspired to clear the air with tea. She fills the kettle and places it on the stove then returns to her chair on the veranda. Slouching ever so slightly, she puts on a content face and continues reading her book.”

    Small pieces of people. In any case, what I find important in the case of Ririchiyo and Miketsukami is aligned with this post. The action of Ririchiyo revealing more of herself in writing while acting haughty in-person is a great part of her identity. And the action of Miketsukami fraudulently creating a character of correspondence for Ririchiyo, a face, is part of his identity. It just so happened that Miketsukami found himself by diving deeply into the mask he created, perhaps in contrast to his fraud and receiving Ririchiyo’s authenticity. I would further suggest that many of his masks did not require the same level of involvement and thus did not have the same effect as his correspondence with Ririchiyo. That is not so say the content and nuance of their letters had no implication of identity, for tastes and manners are components, but it is incomplete.

    Finally, I feel contrary to Vuc above. The keyboard facilitates efficient communication, especially for business, and that is the wonder of handwriting. Handwriting is physically inefficient in comparison, but there is something genuine in the nuance of an individual’s writing, the time and effort exerted to craft a message. Every physical keystroke requires equal effort, yet characters, Latin or otherwise, vary.

    Tangentially, I find this relates to Valentine’s (recently inspired by Marimite) and how handmade chocolates / gifts are often stressed. And similarly, I feel it is not merely the content and language of correspondence, but the action.

    She made you chocolates.
    She bought you chocolates.
    She said, “I’ll make you chocolates.”
    She said, “I’ll buy you chocolates.”
    She said, “I would make you chocolates.”
    She said, “I would buy you chocolates.”

    He wrote you a letter.

    • Yi says:

      “there are people who deliberately miscast themselves in order to gain an advantageous position with “targeted” individuals.”

      A cynical, but unfortunately, also realistic and very true. I’d like to assume people tend to approach personas with good intentions though, even if it’s misrepresentative. And I would like to see those inconsistencies as another layer of personality that people unintentionally deliver. A deepr truth, perhaps, but one that not need be negative.

      Of course, with that said, there are some who simply “trolls” … And I can’t say I agree with that. :(

      On the limitations of non-verbal communication… I think that’s true. Some people might never truly master it. Ririchiyo definitely has her issues. The lack of non-verbal communicative skills is often even more devastating. I remember reading something in psychology once that our interactions are based a lot more on body language and other such non-verbal things; to be unable to grasp that well, then, is… :(

      I think it is in those situations that many turn to verbal communication, spefically the type that does not rely on non-verbal communication. Writing thus becomes, even more so, the focal point in Ririchiyo and Miketsukami’s social interactions. Still, I think both of them (certainly Ririchiyo) realize that talk is indeed cheap. So they struggle to grasp those non-verbal social skills.

      Thanks for bringing that up!!

      On Miketsukami, yes, his letters are still an incomplete self. But I think that’s totally OK. Afterall, we will never show our complete self to anyone at once. We usually only show various aspects. It just happens that he has found one he feels most comfortable with Ririchiyo and himself.

      Yes definitely. I’m in the hand-write things camp too. Inefficient in some regards, but more intimate in others. For me, that extra effort does translate, hopefully, to something.

      “She made you chocolates.
      She bought you chocolates.
      She said, “I’ll make you chocolates.”
      She said, “I’ll buy you chocolates.”
      She said, “I would make you chocolates.”
      She said, “I would buy you chocolates.”

      He wrote you a letter.”

      Thank you, Ryan. ♥

      We need to talk about Marimite and ojou-sama sometime. ^ ^

      • Ryan A says:

        Inconsistencies have no need to be negative, I agree very much. Sometimes they can give someone (or a character) endearing qualities. And I think usually it’s not negative so long as there isn’t a malicious drive, which would be along the lines of “trolls.” (Not a fan of trolls either)

        “I remember reading something in psychology once that our interactions are based a lot more on body language and other such non-verbal things; to be unable to grasp that well, then, is… :(”

        I believe this is true, in thinking about it. And at some level, perhaps subconsciously, I think we communicate non-verbally without realizing it. Being unable to grasp this channel is unfortunate because it’s such a dynamic and artful means of communication. Even without body language, our actions are still a meaningful method of sending a message.

        Though Ririchiyo has trouble expressing herself, Miketsukami seems the type to key onto body language and possibly very good at using it.

        “Afterall, we will never show our complete self to anyone at once. We usually only show various aspects.”

        Yes, and furthermore, I suggest we do not know our complete self, which is why I feel challenging oneself is important. If you consider it, we may believe we will act a certain way in a hypothetical situation, but when the time comes, we may act different from what we previously thought. This kind of paradox can be played excellently in fiction. I feel there was something about “action” in the final episodes of Canaan that sort of observes the dynamic between “how we act” vs “how we expect to act.”

        But as I mentioned in A_Libellule’s post on Altair & Vega, a person is a composite of a vast number of these contextual instances, most of which I believe are action-based. And we are unable to fully know anyone, no less ourselves, but the more ‘looks’ we understand of an individual, the more comprehensive our perspective is of their identity.

        The interesting trouble with characters like Miketsukami (also Fujiko Mine from Lupin III), is that they’ve played the part countless times in countless situations, so it takes a far greater level of intuition to penetrate their identies. I’m optimistic in believing most people [today] are not this way.

        γνῶθι σεαυτόν

        As for handwriting intimacy… your wording reminds me of this lightly sensual play of using one’s finger to scribe characters onto a lover’s back or palm.. or thigh. There are many variations to enjoy. ♥

        You’re welcome, Yi. And I’d love to have that talk sometime.

        P.S. http://rynryn.tumblr.com/post/11468627274

        • Yi says:

          Oh yes definitely. I doubt anyone knows the complete self or if anything like such even exists long enough for us to learn. After all, we are constantly changing in little and big ways. The paradox between what we think we will do and what we do is indeed a fine testament to that. Interesting note on Canaan. ^ ^ Circumstances and ideals are often just too hard to predict in its entirety…

          “but the more ‘looks’ we understand of an individual, the more comprehensive our perspective is of their identity.”

          That’s a fascinating take. However, I imagine sometimes the more “looks” we understand, the more we may be misled into believing an ideal/ tunnel vision. For example, if the only things, in addition to Miketsukami’s smooth side, that we see is his past as boy toy, and his actions as a seductive, manipulative jerk, then we risk boxing our views of him. (As a side note, this is possibly a failing of the anime… I keep getting reinforcements of the frustrating parts of Miketsukami’s personality).
          Still, in general, I do agree.

          “that they’ve played the part countless times in countless situations, so it takes a far greater level of intuition to penetrate their identies.”

          Exactly!

          “As for handwriting intimacy… your wording reminds me of this lightly sensual play of using one’s finger to scribe characters onto a lover’s back or palm.. or thigh. There are many variations to enjoy. ♥”

          Oh my! You really know how to make me blush, haha. ^///^ The tongue is my pen, saliva my ink. The canvas, well…

          p.s. I’m on gchat all the time~

  6. Wieselhead says:

    Miketsukami was so scary as he showed his other cold self to Ririchiyo.
    But I guess exchanging letters with her in the past slowly made a better person out of him even though he had to force himself to write something decent to a girl with totally different interests.

    “Are these really masks or actually extensions of ourselves?”
    That’s a really interesting point, when talking about more private things it’s easy to put on a mask to make things sound better than they actually are or to pretend to be someone else.

    In my case I would say that Im not really using my online presence as kind of mask. I don’t write about the too private things people shouldn’t know about me. Then there is no need for me to sugarcoat private things or to pretend to be a better or successful person.

    My online presence is more like a extension for me, it gives me more possibilities in expressing myself. I can get into contact with others more easily. It’s also easier to show a bit of my freak side without feeling really embarrassed about it unlike in real life where Im just showing around a quarter of this side :D

    • Yi says:

      Yea, to be honest, as telling and beautiful as Miketsukami’s monologue can be, he still scares me. I think it’s the juxtaposition of insincerity and honesty that throws me off. And that blank, cold, pretentious smile. I love that he eventually comes to an understanding with himself and Ririchiyo, but yea… I still don’t really like him all that much.

      Thanks for sharing about your approach to your online presence. I think we are all on a sliding scale between full-on masking and revealing everything. We also all have our own comfort levels with putting our identities out there. But wherever on this scale we are, our personas are still in some small ways, at least partly extensions of ourselves.

      “It’s also easier to show a bit of my freak side without feeling really embarrassed about it unlike in real life where Im just showing around a quarter of this side :)”

      Haha, yes! I totally understand this. ^ ^

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  8. Akira says:

    Hmm, I wonder?

    One’s online identity can be an extension of oneself, but can also be a mask that one hides under. It’s no secret that I guard the particulars of my personal life fairly jealously, although this facade breaks down the second you speak to me via Skype. I have different email addresses for different groups of friends, et cetera.

    Why do I do this? It’s hard to say. Part of it is the fun and thrill that comes from being someone else. More importantly, though, I think it’s it’s more to protect my online identity from people who know me in real life. I wonder, then— which one is real? Which one is fake? Maybe they’re both real.

    • Yi says:

      That’s interesting. I think I’ve often thought of you as someone much more open-booked than others. Maybe it’s because of all the wonderful things people have spoken of you, especially after meeting you offline. (2DT’s post comes especially to mind.)

      Still, I can understand keeping different email addresses and such. I do the same as well. There’s one for hobbies. One for school. One for facebook. One for purchases. I, too, wonder what it is that compels us to keep all these aspects segregated.

      “More importantly, though, I think it’s it’s more to protect my online identity from people who know me in real life.”
      Right! I think the reverse is equally important for me, at least so far. I’d like to imagine both to be the “real” me though. Simply two sides of the same coin.

      Cheers, Akira. ^ ^

  9. Wonderful post!
    I think I’m a bit more transparent than other people, meaning I’m almost if not completely the same online and in real life. I don’t hide the fact that I watch anime, although I wasn’t ever faced with a scornful remark about my hobby to be careful not to tell about it. The things I usually hide IRL, I hide here, too.

    Handwritten texts have another kind of intimacy and that’s not restricted only in love letters. I think I’ve read somewhere that you learn better, if you take notes yourself than when you are given typed notes.

    ” I certainly do not talk about sex all the freaking time when I am away from my laptop, as I do here” – I believe that very few people don’t want to talk about sex, especially, if (s)he doesn’t need to reveal his/her real identity, since sex and sexuality are sensitive and personal subjects. We all have a certain drive, some fascinations and questions about it, so you shouldn’t feel the need to defend yourself for being more vocal than others. Plus, your blog is very decent in the way your preferences are expressed and you are quite general. Imho, the ones being judjemental should revisit their boring/prude (sex) life :P

    • Yi says:

      That’s what I love about you, Ayame. ^ ^ I get the feeling that you have no pretense. The person I’m talking to lays it all out there. (And maybe that’s why I tend to throw a bunch of rants at you whenever we chat… Your sincerity makes me open up just a little more as well~)

      I think it’s really awesome that you don’t need to hide your anime watching hobby. I tend to do so myself, mostly because, well, it’s not exactly seen as a huge positive here. As for things I do hide… It differs somewhat, although some things I keep almost exclusive to myself as well anywhere.

      Agreed about handwritten stuff. In academic pursuits, handwritten notes definitely still hold importance. From classrooms to labs, pen and paper are usually just so much more efficient. And also, yes, personally, I find writing my notes the best for remembering stuff.

      The comment about my sexual tendencies with this blog is a bit tongue-in-cheek, and was a small response to something someone had written about Listless Ink. Anyway, thank you so much for the sexy support, Ayame. ♥ ^ ^

  10. John Sato says:

    “neither has any tangible bond of note.” I love the pun :D

    Nice post. It definitely gave me some food for thought with how we handle ourselves online. Keep up the good work.

  11. ajthefourth says:

    Approximately two years ago, a friend and I had a large falling out. In order to express how I truly felt, and be sure that she knew I was sincere and was putting in effort, I wrote her a very long letter (in spite of the fact that she lived across town, I had her phone number, or easily could have e-mailed). Letter-writing definitely carries with it an air of diligence and sincerity for me. When I write a letter (it’s also always accompanied by a drawing or painting, but that’s more to do with how I can most easily express myself) it’s because I want that person to know that I am serious in my feelings/affections. I write, consistently, in cursive, in order to keep up my neat and fastidious handwriting, waiting for the day when it will be needed to be put into use.

    Now, case in point, the story above that I just told you is 100% true. I’ve often lamented the fact that I haven’t created a better persona online; that I wished I had remained more of a mystery to most. However, when interacting with anyone, I think that we change our personality slightly, no matter what the medium. I’m going to say different things, speak in different ways, both online and in “real life,” based on who I’m speaking with at the time. All of these facets, even the more awful ones, combined, are truly what make me, me.

    Thanks for this post.

    • Yi says:

      Thank you so so much for sharing that little personal bit of your story, Em! I could totally see you put all your heart into a piece, carefully sculpting every word and every line… Letters really do have so much more weight. I hope your friend realized the sincerity and thought you put into your letter. ^ ^

      I think I’ll share a story of my own as well. Some time ago… Perhaps three years ago, I made a friend, whom I’ve never met. It begin with a few emails here and there, mostly just small talk and nothing special. Eventually, one day, I just sent her a letter with a gift. I wasn’t sure why I did it, but I think I wanted to give her something, and simply sending a package felt weird. But that was the beginning of a really wonderful exchange of letters. We really got to know each other very well (though we never put details… always just feelings). And, I don’t know. It really felt more genuine than a lot of my other relationships, even if I have never met her. To this day, I still have her letters around…

      “I’ve often lamented the fact that I haven’t created a better persona online; that I wished I had remained more of a mystery to most.”

      I remember you saying something about this a long time ago. To be honest, I find you so lovely precisely because you are so forward and so open about things. It’s charming really! You needn’t worry about creating a better persona. You are you, and I adore you! ♥

      Thanks for reading, Em!!

  12. Cratex says:

    “If Whorf and Davidson are right—that language determiness thought and belief—our identities are then at least somewhat limited by our linguistic abilities.”

    There is an article in the February 2011 issue of Scientific American that you might be interested in: “How Language Shapes Thought”, by Lera Boroditsky. One of the things it talked about I found really interesting was what impact language might have on how someone might remember who did what from an event. The implications are important for things like witnesses for court trails. The author notes how speakers of different languages have different abilities to recall the identity of the person “responsible”. If the event was perceived as intentional, English, Spanish and Japanese speakers could equally recall the identity of the actor, but if the event was perceived as accidental they had different abilities regarding recalling the actor’s identity.

    • Yi says:

      Yes, indeed. Linguistic philosophy is a really fascinating subject, and the links between language and thought are not as simple as many might initially assume. Language isn’t just a communication tool. For example, in the case you mentioned, language shapes our conception of truth. In some ways, it’s like that old adage… If you say it enough times, it becomes true. Eye witness accounts aside, we see this with personality as well. Miketsukami shapes his character, just as we do start to believe in ourselves when we talk in a certain way.

      Thanks for the really insightful comment! And definitely thanks for the article. ^ ^

  13. jreding says:

    After reading your inspiring post, Yi, and the equally thought-provoking contributions in the comments section I regret even more than before that I dropped Inu x Boku after two episodes. Now I start to understand better that Mikutsukami’s personality (which was the main reason why I dropped this show) may be interpreted not as a simple stock character but as an exaggeration of personal traits I may well find in myself. I hope I’ll get to watch this show some time soon!

    I couldn’t say that I have much of an “online identity” commenting here and there on interesting anime blog posts. But indeed, I can express my interests and ideas in this way more uninhibited than in other situations. Writing also has its pitfalls as it’s hard to correct errors I may make or wrong impressions I may give. My work environment is challenging and puts increasingly stress on my time to the point where I feel that the rest of my life becomes streamlined by default. The internet offers me the opportunity to follow some decidedly un-streamlined interests and share thoughts on them. English is not my native language but I prefer an English language internet environment as it is more separated from, yes, “real life” and makes it easier for me to shape my ideas. In this way the internet is a conduit which helps me to keep my life in balance.

    With some concern I note that it already takes me considerable time to put down a simple comment on a blog post. The skill of handwriting I have almost lost. I am not only referring to the physical ability to produce well-designed letters but also on the intellectual ability to keep up the concentration required for a concise and elaborate peace of communication I can’t reverse later. One fascinating aspect in some anime (in particular in historic settings) is how much importance a single Chinese character can have and the style of handwriting employed to create it. This is a stunning contrast to my everyday environment and I’d like to try to learn from it.

    • Yi says:

      Don’t let this post and all the insightful comments fool you. Inu x Boku SS is not that good… And I have a lot of problems with Miketsukami’s character, mostly just, well, I hate him. You were right to drop this series because of Miketsukami.

      Thank you for sharing your own approach to internet and tidbits of your offline life. ^ ^ I think, in a lot of ways, my approach is similar. The internet social interactions offer me a balance—a stress relief and a place where I don’t have to worry too much about keeping up appearances.

      I would never have guessed that you have a difficult time putting words down in comments and elsewhere. Your thoughts and words always flow so easily and communicate so eloquently. You make it look easy! I do understand the other concern though. The irreversible permanence of something on the internet can be intimidating. It makes me extra careful about what I write and say. (That is, for things I cannot go back and edit/delete…)

      Agreed about Chinese characters. But at the same time, the increased difficulty and exhaustion from writing Chinese make me love the efficiency and convenience typing offers. I almost never write Chinese ever… Even writing my own name is a pain. My last name itself requires 17 strokes. Still, I appreciate beautiful penmanship in Chinese or in any language.

      Cheers, jreding. ^ ^

      • jreding says:

        “I would never have guessed that you have a difficult time putting words down in comments and elsewhere. Your thoughts and words always flow so easily and communicate so eloquently. You make it look easy!”

        Awww, thank you for these kind words, Yi!

  14. Canne says:

    I love this post.
    Somehow I can fully relate to this topic as I often have the same doubt about my RL and online persona. There are so many times that I realize that I was actually wearing a mask in real-life; doing what I was expected to do. And I feel myself again when I am online writing in my blog. In this digital age, I can at least have some place to be myself.

    Yep, this sounds sad -_-‘

    • Yi says:

      Oh Canne. ^ ^ I love you~ I think perhaps it’s not so much masks, but simply different sides of yourself. We all show slightly different sides to different people, including ourselves. Even then, it’s not too often we find places and people, in front of whom we don’t feel compelled to show a certain side… I’m so glad that you’re able to find comfort on your blog.

      Cheers, Canne!

  15. Kai says:

    Interesting. For me myself, unless I’m very VERY familiar with my chatmates, only then I reveal more of my real life, if not, I had my real life hidden as much as possible. I also created different kinds of social profiles and e-mail addresses, each with a different kind of personae, and each caters to different group of friends, some local, some international, some strictly anime/manga friends only and so on.

    However, one of my personae can be more real too. As Nisemonogatari stated, something fake can be just as real as the genuine thing because of it never-ending attempts at imitating. Applying that theory, one of my persona can be real.. who knows?

    • Yi says:

      Yea, I have reservations about putting my life out there. Usually, anything public I write on the internet is fairly inconsequential and not close to my heart. Even in private, I don’t divulge too much unless to very very familiar, close friends.

      It’s interesting, isn’t it? How we guard aspects of our lives from each other. How stringently we keep them separated.

      I do think, unless one is deliberately lying, all these personae are parts of our identities. To say they’re fake is limiting our conception of identity.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment, Kai!

  16. SnippetTee says:

    What a nice read, thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

    Before, I used to have a different username and I’d say that that handle encrypts the young me who’s immature, carefree, and moody. That’s why when I bumped into my old comments here and there, I was worried that I may have leaked too much of my IRL self. I was also a bit guilty of engaging with conversations that I don’t normally discuss IRL. I realized that at some point, somebody will know what I’m doing online and I fear that I might disappoint them. That’s why I my changed my handle to refine my persona. But still, every now and then, I stumble with my words. My concealed tone, temper and obsessions are subconsciously resonating on my words. But I guess, that can’t be help since no matter how I change my username, the way how I interact will be constantly dependent on the character which is static in me.

    Anyway, I guess that’s one of the main benefits of writing using the new technology. The digital letters that we used are so neutral and flexible that they don’t leave as much of ourselves as compared to the handwritten words. But on the contrary, I’m more of an old school person. Whenever I write for someone on any special occasion, I handwrite it regardless of my messy handwriting. Not only I want to show that I put a lot of effort, but I want it to present it in a more personalized way. I believe the way we curve the letters, draw lines, and allot spaces visualize more of ourselves.

    • DNK says:

      You can actually learn lot from a person by their choice of words alone… Different speeches mean different things but above all, a handwritten letter shows 2 things nowadays, true intentions in your words and the ability to be affected by then. I believe the last one is a key reason why people don’t like handwritten letter’s, in as too much power over them, as such a laptop is a good way of avoiding it, since it is so could.

      Sorry for the comment, but I couldn’t understand your way of thinking very well, and perhaps there are more people like me, who have been reading this “blog” for a while but never had the strength of will to comment.

      • Yi says:

        @DNK:

        Agreed about the impact of handwritten letters. In some sense, handwriting something is a commitment to one’s emotions, something most are reluctant to do today, as being casual is the safest, easiest thing to do. Emails allows one to get across messages much easier and with less emotional attachments/commitments to them.

    • Yi says:

      @Snippet:

      No, thank you for sharing a personal snippet of yourself. ^ ^

      I think in a lot of ways, we are very similar. We go to lengths protecting, segregating, and shaping our online persona. We have also gone through vaious changes in our time here. I certainly wasn’t the same person I was when I started Listless Ink, and even more different before that. (A quick look through the archives would show a young Yi who’s–I’d like to imagine–much more emotionally giving.)

      But yes, that fear of my “IRL” seeping into this escape… I feel it as well. (And the reverse is true too.) Fortunately, past conversations, posts, blogs… while semi-permanent on the internet, are quickly lost in time and in the transitory memories of people. Still, I do remember a few of your older comments around on this blog under a different handle, but the same wonderful avatar. (Don’t worry, you are still as mysterious and cute as ever!) It’s lovely to have known you for so long!

      The old school feels much more intimate to me, and we are romantic. Cross the tees, dot the i’s. It’s fun, isn’t it?

      Thanks again, SnippetTee, for dropping by!

  17. DNK says:

    I have read pretty much the entire entry’s in this blog, and all things consider, I can’t understand why so many people speak in a sad tone, making the ones who read, sorry.

    Just because some of us have an online persona, doesn’t mean anything bad, in fact, I see it has a plus, in comparison to most people’s.

    If you look at what most of you have written, then we “hide” behind those online personas, but what if it is the other way around? What if, this is our real personality, not a fake one made as a cover to protect our self’s, what if, who we are in the letter’s, the blog’s, the online communities is who we really are but, because of all the social pressure we fell, we fail to express it to it’s full might.

    When I was growing up, I couldn’t say what I had in mind, because I didn’t feel like people would like it, and as such, would scold me for it. Nowadays is has changed, but only because of the letter’s I wrote to myself when I was a kid, as well as the time I spend on the computer reading stuff… I gave me strength to try to express myself.

    When we write, we try to be honest because the first person that is going to read it, is us, and we know all our most hidden fears, online blog’s and such are great because, we all need to be honest with who we are and who we want to be, and in the letters we write, we put our hearts and minds, not our desires to please others (unlike in face-to-face).

    • Yi says:

      This post has a slight air of cynicism in it, so that may have prompted the tone of some responses. (I tend to be a little more cynical than happy these days with my posts though, but I digress…)
      I feel that your take on this issue–internet personas–is very close to the point I was hoping to get across. We often have this idea that online and “real life” are two separate entities, and it shows in the language we use. However, I’d like to imagine that both are part of ourself. They are two sides of the same coin, or rather different facets of a diamond.

      It’s no surprise we act differently (hold different personalities) in front of different audiences and in various contexts. The internet, then, is simply another environment where we express another self (our real self, just as real, and not more or less real, than the self in “real life”).

      On the expression point, I do agree. In some sense, I think we actually have even more freedom to fully act out our personalities here than anywhere else. Partly because of the perceived lower consequences and social pressures, and also partly because of the control we get to exercise over our personas through writing.

      Thank you, lovely DNK, for sharing your experience. ^ ^ I love it! And I do think that in shaping our internet personas–or rather, learning to fully express our personalities–we are able to extend that to all facets of our personality and environment, such that we become better at being ourselve in other contexts as well. Miketsukami and Ririchiyo’s letters are like our internet.

      I find that I try to be as honest and sincere as possible whenever I write as well, yet I also tend to hold myself back a lot… and even manipulate words at times. But in either case, I try to be honest to the personality I want to have. It’s curious.

      Cheers, DNK, and thank you so so much for your various really insightful notes. ^ ^

  18. Anime says:

    Wow very nice post, it got me straight on what I’m thinking (and feeling). And I think that’s one of the reason why I tend to be anonymous because if most of my friends find out what my online activities are they can see the dark side of me. Anyway it’s not that dark but mostly “naughty” (not so naughty) The thing is, I have this image of being ‘cool’ and ‘kind’ which is very different to my online persona that I maintain.

    OTOH creating your image online is something that is important nowadays. It boosts your confidence and helps you find your true self.

    • DNK says:

      My thoughts exactly…It’s not that internet personas are bad, but are simply a way to express things that we aren’t able to do when we are face to face due to pressure…

      I’m considered a smart and cold person, if I said anything like what I just wrote, people who simply laugh and me… Either it’s using internet personas, letter, sms, or another type of communicating, when we choose to say what we believe while hidding behind these things, we are pure, kind, but above all, we are honest.and, I guess, it is something about that, that purity, that honesty but also that fear of getting heart by somebody else that makes us enjoy these types of things, since we find some type of safety in these words.

      Ps. Online image to some is more important then face-to-face, since, online communities are currently such a large part of our lives. Somehow I think I will post here more often… Is there a forum or something of the likes related to this blog?

      • Yi says:

        Agreed, DNK! And thanks for the continued contributions to this topic! ^ ^

        “Somehow I think I will post here more often… Is there a forum or something of the likes related to this blog?”
        Unfortunately, there really isn’t a forum or irc thing associated with this blog, since… well… I’m not very good at computer stuff and never knew how to set one up. This really is just a blog where I write ideas (often anime-related or personal), and people chime in in the comments.

        I really hope you do come back and visit again. And read some of my other posts. ^ ^

        Thanks for visiting, darling!

    • Yi says:

      @Anime: Yes, I do think that being able to create and exact a persona on the internet affects the way we act offline as well. Being able to find ourselves, know who we want to be, and be that person translate to our other personas, whether online or not. To that end, this is certainly a positive!

      Also, I try to keep my “worlds” separate for similar reasons. There are sides of me offline that I don’t want my online friends to know, and vice versa.

  19. maybebornagain says:

    This is an interesting cross of romanticism and cynicism, Yi.

    • Yi says:

      I guess that reflects a lot about my feelings as of late. At least it’s not all cynical, like that Usagi Drop post I did a while ago.

      p.s. While we’re on the subject of internet persona, I see you’ve changed your name again. ^ ^

      • maybebornagain says:

        I’m sorry you’re feeling that way.

        Ah, kinda of a funny story. A while before my latest influx of posts, I had deleted my old email and setup a new account. So, when I was posting here a couple of months ago, I had manually replaced the username with the one you’d recognize. So, when I started posting here again, it manually defaulted to this one, and I mistakenly assumed I had all ready switched it to this. That being said, I suppose I like trying out new things. I’m glad you recognized me, though!

  20. Nopy says:

    “Writing, whether old-fashioned or typed, offers an unparalleled level of preciseness.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Speaking my mind has never felt natural to me, so I tend to put my thoughts on paper or through a keyboard. As for the whole thing with masks, I also view them more as an extension of the real person. I myself feel like I’m living three different lives: work me, internet me, and social me. Each may project different aspects of me more than others, but they’re still all me.

    • Yi says:

      Yep yep. I have these personas too: work me, internet me, social me. I’d add family me, and alone time me. These tend to cross over at times, but they’re all so separate too. And they may change every so often. Identity and persona’s are flexible. There isn’t really an absolute, defining self.

      Thanks for the comment, Nopy!

  21. Pingback: Just Some More Personal Updates | Listless Ink

  22. Pingback: Inu x Boku SS – Romance, Youkai, Peking Duck | Listless Ink

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