Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Private, public... bland?

Digital Natives » In the News: When Private Identities Go Public: "How many teenagers are comfortable with their parents or teachers or even a random stranger friending them on MySpace or Facebook or Twitter? Our digital identities are constructed for our peers – be it our real life friends or a specific online community. We strive to present ourselves as unique and opinionated to our peers. A bland profile is as good as no profile at all. Genuine interactions with friends are uncensored by concerns of political correctness, sanitizing these interactions online in fact changes the function of social networking tools. Just as we carry ourselves differently at a job interview than when hanging out with friends, our digital identities are tuned to a specific purpose. The distinction, of course, being that what is posted online can potentially be accessible, per Clive Thompson, by everyone. Those who have been thrust into the spotlight, like Levi Johnson and Caroline Giuliani, have learned this the hard way."

This is a useful one to return to - the sanitised online self. It's something I know I've mused about in the past. How much of you stays 'you' when you put it online? When you can't be selective about who you allow into your life (through the wonder of the interweb) then how real can you afford to be? I'm aware I very rarely mention anything at all about my personal life on my blog. That's a conscious decision on my part. Better to say not very much at all when you're using a blog than to say too much and mop up the pieces for ever. For all those people who moan about their jobs... their relationships... their lives. What if the people you were talking about read what you wrote? What if what you were saying wasn't expressed in a constructive way but in the sort of ramble which everyone needs to get out of their heads from time to time? How best to live with the consequences of that? Or are we all turning into self-sanitizers until we figure this connectivity business out properly?


  1. Or are we all turning into self-sanitizers until we figure this connectivity business out properly?
    But how much does this differ from f2f? Don't we always self-censor over who we tell what? And don't we also come across people who will "bleed" about their innermost feelings and personal issues as soon as we sit next to them on a bus? I'm not convinced that "online" has made that much difference other than widening the audience, it's an amplifier rather than changing things. Does that make sense?

  2. This self-sanitisation/self-moderation of behaviour was the anticipated outcome of the panopticon, wasn't it? ;-)

  3. @nogbad - yes, we self-censor - but we do it to the lowest visible common denominator... not to the lowest common denominator in general (abuse of mathematical terms excepted!)

    I don't think it's an amplifier, I think it fundamentally changes things because of the access-issue. I briefly mention something that happened face-to-face and it stays private... I publish it as a status update because I can and... everyone knows. And I can't control who knows because I can't see who can see what I wrote.

    @tony - yup! :o)


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