Jonny Sun on the upside of online anonymity


JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, we turn to another installment
of our weekly Brief But Spectacular series, where we ask people about their passions. Jonny Sun is an author who amassed a loyal
Twitter following through his honesty, humor and candor. His latest book is “Everyone’s a Aliebn When
Ur a Aliebn Too.” JONNY SUN, Author, “Everyone’s a Aliebn When
Ur a Aliebn Too”: Look, life is bad. Everyone’s sad. We’re all going to die. But I already bought this inflatable bouncy
castle. So, are you going to take your shoes off,
or what? I think I have always grown up as like a shy,
introverted, socially anxious person. I have always seen my Twitter account as like
a personal account. And I have always been drawn to it as a writer
for the fact that I’m able to be honest and open and vulnerable, I guess, in a way that
I can’t be in person. I have always seen Twitter as kind of this
writer’s sketchbook. I have approached it as a writer this whole
time. And it’s always been this place where I can,
like, take ideas and test them out. Anonymity online has gotten this kind of bad
rap because of a lot of the harassment and abuse, which, of course, is such a serious
issue. The flip side of that is that being anonymous
online allows certain people to have a voice and have a presence, especially when their
real-life identities can’t be compromised. I wrote a book. It’s called “Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a
Aliebn Too.” It’s an illustrated story of an alien who
comes to Earth and meets a bunch of different characters and kind of gets to learn about
their lives. Another, I think, characteristic of the voice
that I have worked on and developed through Twitter and in the book is this idea of kind
of messing with syntax and grammar and kind of doing intentional mistakes and doing typos
and stuff. And I think that relates a lot to kind of
the postmodern movements of poetry and the Fluxus movement in the ’60s and how these
artists were taking the look of type on a page and using that to influence voice and
to change the ways we read ideas. Hopefully, that intentional clumsiness creates
pure, honest, genuine voice for readers and for people to pick up on. I think about, like, death all the time. I think a lot of writers think about death
all the time. I’m always thinking about how much I can do
and how much time I have left. I have so many things I want to do. Accepting that one day in the future I won’t
be here anymore makes me really think really hard about how much time I have on this Earth
and what I’m going to do with it. My name is Jonny Sun, and this is my Brief
But Spectacular take on connecting with others. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can find additional
Brief But Spectacular episodes on our Web site. That’s PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.

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