When @alabngdiwa created an alter account in Twitter in October 2018, it wasn’t because of anybody’s influence. Instead, “I just bumped into some accounts through my legit account and got engaged for a few days,” he said to Outrage Magazine. “After then, I decided to put up an alter account for more fluid and uninhibited interactions.”
Incidentally, however, @alabngdiwa was “going through a heartbreak” at that time, since a long-term relationship was breaking down. “We were no longer on speaking terms and the waiting part before the ‘talk’ was excruciating. Through my new account, I was able to talk to some… sensible guys in the app.”
And before he knew it, @alabngdiwa grew his followers to 8,490, all of them checking @alabngdiwa’s “mostly Tagalog poetic tweets, my mood for the day, and some PLHIV information.” For those who want to know: No, he doesn’t earn from his alter account (“Paano ba (How do you do that)?” he asked).
For @alabngdiwa, having an alter account can be beneficial.
In his case in particular, “it did help me a lot especially during troubled times. I’ve met some really good people through my account who’ve become real friends. I can count on them when I need to confide something. Also, whenever I’m having a breakdown, I tweet most of them so I get to release some of the mental tensions.”
BIG ON ANONYMITY
And yes, the anonymity helps.
“The mask of anonymity lets you enjoy expressing yourself (easily), thinking less of the prejudice…”
Somewhat contradictory, but “you get to be yourself and at the moment” even as “you may (also) alter your image as you feel like it; you can build your ideal image from scratch, anytime, and build a following based on that image.”
But there is always a risk of being… exposed.
“Having an alter account can compromise your identity, if you’re not being careful about it. Also, when your account gets too much attention and you gain new friends, and sometimes romantic and/or sexual relationships, the world that you built can get smaller,” @alabngdiwa said.
This, in turn, could make one forget the reason behind the anonymity.
“Some people can get trapped in their new ideal world, treating it as freedom,” he said. Yet “before knowing it, it becomes another box, in a different form. This is one of the disadvantages when you… forget your true intent. It can easily sway you if you’re not aligned with a purpose.”
For @alabngdiwa, what may cause him to close his alter account is “if my identity will be compromised, I will definitely close it.”
The alter community is, of course, closely linked with being openly sexual with the protection of anonymity.
@alabngdiwa said that this is actually also – somewhat – true with PLHIVs with alter accounts, and even if many people may still frown upon the sexual activities of PLHIVs.
For him, nonetheless, “we have different libidos, hormonal makeups, sexual preferences and standards. And this (having an alter persona) is just one part of a person,” he said.
Besides, “I could care less about what they say because at the end of the day, you are accountable to your own actions. As long as you don’t step on anyone… you should be able to enjoy life.”
This is also why @alabngdiwa said he’s very cautious with his alter persona – i.e. “I am also careful about my posts so all ‘kalats’ are immediately deleted.”
In fact, “no, I don’t worry about (others finding out that my alter account belongs to me),” he said. “I can delete my account anytime anyway.”
CREATING AN ALTER ACCOUNT
Would @alabngdiwa recommend for other PLHIVs to also open an alter account?
Yes, he said, as it could “broaden their understanding about their condition. Most newly-diagnosed (PLHIVs) I come across think that having this health condition means they will now have to settle to merely surviving, thereby stopping fully living. This shouldn’t be the case. Talk to people online. Know that you’re not the only one struggling, and each struggle has its own complexities. Your (experience) might be unique but you’re not alone.”
For @ alabngdiwa, to most, HIV is a curse. But “to some people like me, it is a blessing. I’m not trying to romanticize it, but basing on my personal experience, it really put me on the right track. I was too lost prior to the diagnosis and this disease helped me gather myself again and plan for the remaining years of my life. I had a better perception about life months after being a PLHIV.”
And yes, his alter account helped @alabngdiwa reach this point in his life… – WITH STEPHEN CHRISTIAN QUILACIO