Wednesday, March 31, 2010

transparency

I had an interesting conversation with my boss, the Facebook, social media and blog extraordinaire the other day in which we talked about the transparency of life via social media, particularly Facebook.

Really, your whole life is practically at risk for being 'on display' through Facebook whether you want it to or not. Between your own comments, your friend's comments, your photo uploads, video tags, blog links... the list goes on and on, a list in which you are more and more exposed. More than that, it nearly becomes exhausting thinking about who sees what and what it could possibly mean. When I think about who I am linked to on Facebook, it is practically everyone I've ever known, know now, and will likely know better in the future. For example, 'oh hi random guy I met at a party, yes let me add you to my Facebook friends' list'. Though I must say I am getting pickier about who I accept. Anyway, my neighbors, best friends, ex-boyfriends, potential boyfriends (?), parents, family members (both older and younger members), boss, boss' boss... literally it seems I am friends with all of them and surely the list continues (is my landlord on there? probably).

So in light of that, how do we censor what we allow out in the world about us? I don't know about you, but often times when I post something, I try to think of it through the eyes of another. Usually the 'another' is a specific someone - like if I went out with friends on a Friday night, and someone posts pictures, I'm wondering, 'what will my parents think of these pictures?'. If I make a comment about having a bad day at work, what will my coworkers think? But it begins to feel like one of those math problems in which there are a slew of seemingly infinite possibilities based on a combination of numbers, and by using some formula I could never remember, you could figure out the exponential availability of answers. My head hurts already.

That is what Facebook, blogging, the internet, all of it, has become. An exponential amount of exposure. Exposure that you can try to delete but frankly never really goes away. So really all that's available is to either censor yourself quite a bit, or just embrace the experience, be careful in what pictures you allow yourself to be captured in, and just be who you are.

My boss expressed the opinion that she was going to not worry about it, this exposure and potential 'vulnerability', because this is who she is and there is an endless combination of people who could read and have opinions about her persona (online and otherwise) and it's frankly too impossible to be bothered by it all. That made me think back on the endless amount of things I've wanted to blog about in the past that I haven't, due to concern over who might read it, what they would think, etc. I have stories about work, about awkward first dates and even more awkward second dates, living in Boston, roommate conflicts, friend conflicts, online dating, non-online dating, bad life decisions, good life decisions... you see how this list could go on and on. Some of it is funny, some of it is sad... but it's all important to my life experiences. But I've neglected to write about a lot of it, and frankly share it, because of who might read it and what they might think.

There are really two things to realize in light of this. The first is probably not that many people even read my blog, so who really cares. And second... who really cares? This is who I am. I am a 26-year-old single woman living in a big city struggling like so many people my age to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, wondering when I'll actually feel like a grown up and start doing grown up things, all the while searching for that special someone... Why shouldn't I write about that, reflect on it, and frankly just enjoy the experience as it relates to my life?

So, to sum up, I think I might try to convert towards transparency... We'll see how it goes. It still freaks me out a bit.