The private made public

Ever since I decided, about a year and a half ago, to start a blog, I’ve been a bit wary of the medium. I never wanted to have a LiveJournal-style place to ramble and air out all of my emotions and angst. Most of my “deep thoughts” will be permanently contained within my (real) journal, thanks very much. But as time passes, anyone who reads this blog can learn a lot about me, my life, and my way of seeing the world. And mostly I’m OK with that.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about the weird public nature of the internet lately. Even though I made my facebook profile and photo albums private a long time ago, I am still sometimes concerned about what conclusions future employers could come to if they really dug through college photos of me and friends posted somewhere in cyberspace. A friend just announced her engagement–via facebook. And since she was in the UK at the time, it didn’t seem like such a strange decision, even if a phone call from here might have been more fun in a perfect world. I’ve learned of more engagements and marriages via facebook in the past few years than any other medium, mostly high school acquaintances and plenty of people I haven’t kept in touch with. And yet I know things about their lives. It’s really a little odd when you take a second to think about it.

Or maybe it isn’t, and I’m just being old fashioned. I’m one of the few people who still keeps the U.S. Postal Service busy, 42 cents at a time. I look forward to the mail every day, even though all I usually get is the occasional magazine. A postcard makes my day, a good letter, my week.

So it’s funny, I guess, with so much presence online–between this blog, Flickr, facebook, videos posted on YouTube and Viddler, reviews on Tupalo–that I’ve been really hesitating when considering joining For those of you who don’t know, is sort of like internet radio–except each person has their own station. You install this little plug-in and the music you play on iTunes is posted online, as well as information about the artists and recommendations for similar artists you might like. And I love the idea of it. I love trolling people’s stations and listening to new music. But I’m also a bit weirded out by it.

In general, I am OK with my music taste. I don’t have a big secret Celine Dion fetish or a deep, abiding love for the musical stylings of Kenny G. Even though my friend made their video, the “comeback” of the New Kids on the Block this year didn’t really have any effect on my playlist. But if I’m in the mood to listen to Michael Jackson all afternoon, do I want the whole world to know? Or if I go into a Neil Halstead barely breathing funk, should anyone passing by know it’s not been a good day? Even stranger would be any old day, when my choices (sometimes governed by whatever comes up in shuffle, sometimes not) could only be described as a bit schizo. So I don’t know. I’ll have to think about whether I’m willing to share my music choices with anyone out there.

I recently posted a ton of photos on Flickr from my little trip to Butte and have gotten lots of feedback, mostly from hardcore fans of the city. It’s been sort of funny. But maybe all of these thoughts about privacy were brought on by this message I received on Flickr:

Dear Mistress Emily,

i hope that i do not overly intrude. i was randomly roving around flicker and happened upon a photo of the M&M cigar store in my good old hometown of Butte so of course had to pop in and see the lovely Lady’s photos and say hello. Not often that you encounter a world class Lady lingering in Butte and documenting the visit. Please be well and take very good care.

It’s nice enough, but there’s something kind of weird about a total stranger calling you a “world class Lady,” even with the most innocent and honorable of intentions. Right? And hey, I put those pictures up for the world to see. Maybe it’s just the capitalization that weirds me out.

What do you all think? Am I being paranoid? Does anyone really care what music I listen to anyway? Does “world class Lady” seem sort of funky? Does this post have any point?

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4 responses to “The private made public”

  1. Mego

    I totally feel you. I’m always a little weary of things on the interwebs. For instance, there are a few times when my last name has come up in my blog and I’m nervous about what that may mean. On the other hand, I’ve put so much personal info on there that it probably wouldn’t be too hard for someone to figure it out if they wanted to.

    Check this out, too:

  2. miamired

    Out of curiosity, I just Googled myself, trying to see if it led to this blog or any other site where I specifically haven’t posted my full name.

    Turns out there are more people with my (really uncommon) name than one might think…now I think I’d prefer that employers see MY Facebook profile and not these people’s…and let’s not even start with the poetry out there bearing my name, though I am NOT the author. I would be mortified if someone thought I was responsible…

    That Nothing But Bonfires article is good…it’s smart to be kinda careful.

  3. Charisma

    I myself have a love/hate relationship with my online personae, and on Facebook, especially. Mainly, I use FB to keep in contact with friends/close acquaintances–and I stress the following point–who live out of state. An ex-friend, whose house is a mere 10 minutes away from mine, got mad at me for deleting her. Needless to say, so much unnecessary drama…

    Re: the flickr message: The sender probably didn’t mean any harm, but I, too, was sort of creeped out by the tone. Maybe that’s just the paranoid in me.

    Re: I’ve been on it for a while now, and unlike most other social networking sites I’ve tried, I quite enjoy it. Then again, I just use it as a tracking tool for my listening habits; I don’t belong to any of the groups or post messages in the forums. I suppose I just keep my music snobbery to myself. 🙂
    (Also, has a feature that allows people to delete tracks, which also might allow people to be cooler than they actually are, heh. I’d find that time consuming, though.)

  4. Katja

    As someone who has been blogging for a year now I often think about these things too. I don’t mind showing the insides of our home in our home blog, but I’m paranoid enough that I don’t want to post pictures of the outside of our home or say on the blog what part of the city we live in, etc. I’m sure no-one would come stalking our home but still, it’s one of those things that make me feel safer 🙂