People, I have been clumsy.
As I’ve made my way through email accounts, blogs, websites, and facebook, I’ve given a lot of thought to my online identities…. in some ways. In other ways, I appear to have gallivanted about the internet with nary a care for the divide between my private and public selves. Now my brain hurts when I try to differentiate between these various online identities.
Maybe our children will be not only internet-savvy, but internet-identity-savvy as well?
Maybe the identity boundaries of the internet will be more clearly marked? Etiquette books written? Classes taught on the appropriateness of using different interfaces to disseminate personal information? Perhaps a textbook? It would be handy.
I have a primary email account.
I have a secondary email account, for putting out in public and for receiving junk.
I have this blog, which is semi-private, semi-public, and where I am semi-anonymous.
I have a website for my art.
I have a blog that I write about art.
I have a blog for Mister Finn, so that he can share things with his faraway friends.
I started a blog for the building we live in– a community of artists.
I’m an inactive member of an online preemie moms group.
I am on Facebook.
I put photos up on Flickr.
That’s ten online incarnations.
No wonder I have a headache.
Most of the mess is created by the blurry boundaries I’ve drawn on this blog. I write here as though I were anonymous: I share personal information, I am fairly honest, I write quickly and impulsively and don’t do much editing. Yet, really, I am not anonymous.
I use my first name, and I show pictures in which I and Wifey and Mister Finn are recognizable. I’ve told a handful of “real world” friends about this blog, and I think a few of them read it regularly.
Things would be easier, clearer, if I had kept this blog completely anonymous. In at least one instance, the virtual shit has hit the real-world fan as a result of the “semi” in semi-anonymous. I suppose in that instance I should also credit my rather feisty, impulsive personality.
However, if this blog were truly anonymous, I would not have had this opportunity to get to know one of my real-world friends better. We live a great physical distance from each other, but by reading each other’s blogs there is a lovely unexpected closeness. The indirect yet intimate blog dialog feels like a conversation that picks up where a phone conversation left off. I recognize her in her writing, and there is no disparity or confusion about with whom I’m reading/talking/communicating. (I hesitate to tag in this post about tangled boundaries, but M. you know who you are.) I also have a few other thoughtful, genuinely caring friends who I think (?!) enjoy learning more of the sordid details of my fascinating life through my blog. (Likewise, I would be their first devoted readers if they had blogs.)
What’s hard is estimating the perception of oneself in the eyes of strangers and loved-ones alike. I suppose I could “not care” what anyone thought, but unfortunately: I care, therefore, I am. If I did not care I would not be me.
I’ve thought about what it would be like if there was only one blog; if my whole life were an open book for anyone to read, and all potential readers would be offered the same book and same amount of openness, regardless of “real world” standards of appropriateness. For example, people in my art community might read about my baby in the NICU,
and you all might come here one day to find me expounding about art as though before a grad school critique. What would that look like? I guess the thought of it feels a little scary– really vulnerable.
I admire people who are able to be open and honest and appear to have one Self that they present to one World. It would be a lot easier in some ways. But you have to be a very good editor to pull that off, scrupulously honest, preferably witty as hell, and a very good writer so as to avoid boredom in your readers. (That said, I’d have to add: Even more dreadful than the poorly-written Christmas letters of Mormon relatives are the carefully crafted, airbrushed “memoirs” that aim to carve a flattering impression of the author in the minds of innocent readers.)
What I want to do is clean up a bit. I want to officially acknowledge that this blog is only partially anonymous and that I hereby must take better responsibility for that. That means that I’m going to delete some posts that might not bode well in my “real life.” I think there are only two or three where I recklessly bitched and snarked.
I’m going to try to be less impulsive, and I’m not going to use this blog as a place to rant about anyone even partially recognizable to anyone who might possibly be reading. Hopefully it won’t end up reading like a Christmas letter from my Mormon relatives or Pollyanna’s memoirs. If it does, I will depend on you all to tell me, my readers dearly known and anonymous alike. Then you can mostly tip my semi-public self off a virtual cliff.
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