online worlds colliding

i'm going to keep whittling away at that looong list of stuff i said i wanted to post about, way back when (you know, in march). the next thing i had on the list was "online worlds colliding," and honestly i can't totally remember what exactly i wanted to write about, but i remember the gist.

i've been experiencing weird dilemmas lately when it comes to online stuff like discussion boards, my blog, my flickr page, facebook, and twitter. i only have so many usernames, and i hate randomly adding more, but i also hate that having only a couple makes me easy to find if i don't want people to find certain parts of me. dig?

like, for instance, back in the day… i only had two usernames: one that i had on discussion boards like television without pity and vegan represent (and other vegan boards), and one that i used here on the blog. neither one was super well thought out, to be frank, but they were mine so i stuck with them. when i created a flickr page, i decided to use the name of the blog (i.e., vegan chai, not girl least likely to) as my flickr name, which sort of added a third username, even though it's obviously related to one of the other ones. i didn't think anything of this at the time… everyone from my blog would obviously recognize it, and everyone from the vegan discussion board world would also recognize it, so i thought i was actually being pretty clever.

that is, until i realized that i might want to share my flickr page with people who know me from outside of vegan-blog and vegan-discussion-board world. you know, like, my mom. oops. 

more recently, i started dorking around with twitter, and also used my blog as my username. a couple of people that i know from outside the vegan world (e.g., grad school) follow me on twitter, but they're people who already knew about my blog, so it's no biggie.

and wow, facebook is like this crazy minefield of people that i know from a bunch of different parts of my life. i know this isn't at all unique to me, because i've talked about this with a lot of people… it's kind of fun, interesting, and yet disconcerting to have so many different sides of yourself reflected in your friends list, isn't it? on facebook, i'm friends with people i knew in grade school, in middle school, in high school, in undergrad, in my master's program, and in my phd program. i'm friends with colleagues at other universities whom i've met "as a grownup." i actually created my facebook account a pretty long time ago, when i thought it would be "just for school," so i'm also friends with some of my (now former) undergraduate students and (some former and some current) graduate students. AND i'm friends with people in my family (including, for instance, my sister, my mom, my cousin, and my step-grandmother's sister). i'm friends with people my husband went to high school with. i'm friends with vegans i've met through meetup in my town, and i'm friends with vegans from all over the intarwebs that i know online. all of this leads to me thinking through my status updates for far longer than i care to admit; i'm always thinking, "now who will be reading this? what will they think of it? i'd better tone it down… or nevermind, i won't bother." 

because of all of this overlap, i get self-conscious a lot. not only with status updates, but with commenting on other people's stuff, and with what pictures get posted. but most of all, i worry about people "finding me out" that i don't want to… like someone seeing my flickr page and (it wouldn't take a genius) then ending up at my blog. or someone non-vegan (i.e., grad student or family member or whomever) from facebook winding up at vegan represent, reading all my posts about random stuff i wouldn't talk about with them. as a result, i set up all of these bizarre roadmaps in my mind to keep things "separate" and i always think about whom i should be sharing which links with. it's tiring! 

and i'd love to just decide not to give a crap (and i suppose, on one level, i'm trying not to), but it's hard. i really am a pretty transparent person as a general rule (i find it taxing to be otherwise, and i'm lazy/honest that way), so it's frustrating to worry about stuff like this. but in all honesty, i don't really want my grad students to read all of my posts at VRF, and i don't want my mom to read all of my mom-venting entries on this blog (and so on). 

i have no idea what the solution to this little problem is. i'm sure i'm not the only one who deals with this stuff. i guess i could unfriend a bunch of people, or create totally unique usernames for every online thing i do, or just decide to throw caution to the wind and let the fates decide… i don't know. i don't mean for it to sound like i'm hiding anything, or like i'm stalker-worthy for that matter. i just have a general unease when i think of certain people stumbling across certain parts of my life that i thought were only being shared with a certain audience. i'm working on it.

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2 comments

  1. Recently at my last job, I had what one would consider a supervisee of mine ask to be friends on Facebook. I was way not sure what to do. I prefer very strong boundaries and like to compartmentalize people. But at the same time, I also don’t want to create 50 bajillon profiles for every service I use. I was lucky and essentially stopped working where I worked. So I let her know this and told her we could be friends on facebook that was fine. And so far it has been fine. But, I still feel a little weird everytime I see her on the list.
    This is something I have battled with forever, which is why I had started a pg family blog and then have my regular one. And I still find myself putting somethings on the family blog, some things on the regular blog, and some things on the facebook page. I feel like different people sometimes, but haven’t figured out the best thing yet. Someone told me there is a way on facebook to categorize people so that only certain people see certain posts, but I haven’t figured that out yet.

  2. phoe, all i can say is: i hear you! i’ve also heard that about the facebook categories, and i spent a couple of hours dorking around with it once, but then never really did anything with it. i think i need someone to demo it for me. đŸ™‚

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