The other day a friend and coworker gave me the link to his personal website. It contains photos, pictures, artwork, personal essays and opinions. It is extremely frank and honest. Although I didn’t notice any identifying data when I was browsing, it does contain his first name and names of family members and true details, so I suppose someone could tie it back to the proper individual. It does not appear to have been updated in awhile, but it’s still there. Nicely done, by the way. Many of my friends use their blogs to post deeply personal writings, about what they do and what they feel and what they think. I read such blogs with a mix of admiration and horror.
I do not consider myself an especially private person. I tell many people many things about my life and my feelings. While I’m not sure that there is any one person who knows everything about me (possibly my husband) there is no one thing about me that is not known by somebody else. I am the person you meet – whether here in my blog or in RL. BUT. That person is rarely the entire me. That’s true for us all – we are someone slightly different in every interaction. But I started this blog as part of my job. My audience was my coworkers and perhaps RL family and friends. I never anticipated what SL would be to me nor that this blog would evolve as it has. So when I write here, I am always aware of who may be reading. And I try to never post anything that will backfire on me if it ends up in my work portfolio. I try to never post anything that will harm my family, emotionally or in other ways. I try to never post anything that I will regret should I run for public office (um – that’s a joke, people). In other words – there is a lot that never gets posted here.
I have considered creating an alternate blog. An alternate persona. A place to vent and scream and tell all my hidden thoughts and feelings. But I don’t believe that there is anonymity in the internet. Ultimately someday somewhere somehow everything can be linked back to me. So that coworker/friend wrote: “…asked me why I keep this blog around. Why? For my children, of course.” He went on to say that he figured someday his children or their children or their children’s children (etc.) would Google (or the then equivalent) and find him and know who he was. Okay. I can understand that. But I don’t agree. That doesn’t work for me personally. My son does NOT really need to know who I am that intimately. He DOES need to know that I am human. That I have faced adversity and sometimes I have triumphed and sometimes I have stumbled. He does need to know that I have feelings and thoughts and passion and dreams. He doesn’t need to know the details, he doesn’t need to know my mistakes, he doesn’t need to see me bleeding on my internal crosses or to know when and how I’ve sunk to my ugliest self. He needs to know that such things happen and have happened and that life goes on. But for me – I think it is sufficient for me to say to him – “Yes, bad things have happened. Here is how it went.” And I can tell him without necessarily baring the full spectrum of emotion and detail. My life is not meant to be an open book to him, or to anyone.
Do I regret this decision, to NOT post my emotions? Oh yes. I certainly do. Many times. Many times in one day even. Maybe I’m a coward. But I simply imagine being faced with what I wrote on some other day in some other mood. And the impulse dies. For those times when the need is overwhelming and there is no friend to hear me, I write haiku. I’ve said before how I love the bare 5-7-5 meter. How I must pare my thoughts down. Forced to cut to only the basic point. You know that I love words and run on and on. Haiku forces a discipline on me that posting does not.
Am I a coward? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I am simply the wrong generation. My friend is my generation, but he hit the web long before I did. So I’m not talking “atomic age generation” necessarily. I am talking “virtual age generation” – that is, the time you plugged in to the virtual life. For my son and his friends – they have always been plugged in. They don’t know life without it. I barely remember life without it, it is so much a part of me now. But I remember enough to know that I don’t want my entire soul bared to the light.
I have seen several articles and stories about how people twitter something, email something, post something, etc. and that “something” comes back to bite them. They are fired, they are sued, they are arrested, they are divorced, they are stalked. And yet not a day goes by without millions of people continuing to bare their souls on the web. The number grows daily. Is it generational? Is it a cultural change brought about by something else entirely? Are we that alone in the world? That egotistical?
I am not saying that posting our inner selves is a “bad” thing. I really don’t know that it is. I suspect that it will come to be the norm, actually. That the reluctance that I feel will be an aberration. But I am not there yet.
So much I need said.
Can you hear my silent screams?
Hands stilled in my lap.