So, this is something I’ve been turning over in my head for a long time but have never gotten around to posting here. Who are you? If you have a blog or are on Facebook/Twitter/Plurk/MySpace/whatever, how do you decide how much of yourself to reveal and which aspects of yourself to reveal?
When I first started my blog, it was largely as a way to share family pictures and updates with people without having to email everyone big files. OK, wait. That’s not the first reason. The very first reason I started a blog was b/c Hubby started one, and I felt a bit competitive (If you’re going to have a blog, then I want one, too!). The more logical reason was for the pictures. The blog quickly became focused on my knitting with occasional forays into conservative politics, PAIL (Pregnancy and Infant Loss) awareness, and Pit Bull advocacy. When we travelled, I used the blog as our travelogue.
If you have some sort of online presence, how do YOU choose to express yourself? Do you only choose to express one aspect of your life – say, just your knitting, or just your culinary adventures? Do you have separate blogs for each area you choose to express? (At one time, I had this blog, plus one for tracking my reading through the year, plus a yarn wishlist-type blog. I also had a separate one when I was participating in the “101 in 1001″ project.) Do you try to do everything in one place?
How “out” are you about who you are? Is your blog anonymous with nicknames for everyone in your family, your town/state never mentioned, or do you give all kinds of information, practically giving your address and phone number?
If you use Twitter or Facebook, how often do you update? Do you only mention the larger things, or is every little movement of your day logged? (Hubby jokes about a friend from church who seemed to update her Facebook status every 15 minutes, and then she got an iPhone – yikes!)
Do you try express your whole self? Is that even possible? Is it even advisable? Are there areas of your life you purposely hide? (Perhaps you have a child with severe special needs whom you choose to shield from public scrutiny, or someone in your family is an addict who is actively using but you use your blog as a break from the drama in your home?)
I have tried to give a fairly well-rounded picture of myself, but I don’t think it’s really possible to give the WHOLE me online. First of all, I do choose not to use my daughters’ names online, just b/c it seems safer. More practically, however, how COULD I express ALL of me? I talk about funny stuff that happens in my family, but am I really going to blog about every argument in my marriage, every time I have to discipline my kids in some way, every weird dysfunctional thing? Is it really my place to talk about someone else’s addiction or psychological issues? Is it appropriate for me to describe my sex life, and do I even want to? (Uh, that would be NO and NO…) Am I going to publish every set of sermon notes from church, what I got out of it, every prayer I pray or sin I battle? Does anyone really want to know all the weird thoughts in my head?
See what I mean? We might think people can get to know us from our blogs/other online presence, and we might feel we know someone else that way, but by definition, even if we don’t consciously limit it, it IS limited in scope. So, how do you decide?
I got started thinking about this a few years ago. We went on a trip and were going to meet an online friend of mine. Her husband asked, “So, who ARE these people we’re going to meet?” She showed him my blog, and from my profile, he said, “Gee, do these people even DRINK?”, thinking we were some kind of stick-in-the-mud fuddy-duddies. It surprised me b/c I didn’t think I’d given such a narrow view of myself, and it got me thinking about the limitations of online profiles, descriptions, blogs, etc. Around that same time, I invited another online friend to meet us somewhere. For various reasons, she declined, and I later found out that she emailed the friend we did meet to find out what we were like, if we were boring weirdos, if I was like the Dana Carvey “church lady” character, etc. I can joke with her about this now, but at the time, it hurt my feelings just a little and made me think about this whole subject.
So, back to the original question: If you have an online presence of some form, who are you? Do you use it to express many aspects of yourself, or just one? Do you express the real you, or have you created some whole online alter ego as an escape from your real life? Who are you?
**With apologies to Pete, Roger, and the late Keith and John. I’ve been thinking about this blog post since long before tomorrow’s halftime show was scheduled.