Wednesday, August 19, 2009

False Intimacy

I just stumbled upon foxy's blog (hi!). This is a quote from her post:

"She and I were talking about blogging and the false intimacy it can sometimes foster with people. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to meet people who know many of your darker secrets.."

I think this is a really interesting point (that, of course, I have additional thoughts about). It leads me to think all sorts of things about privacy, intimacy and friendship.

Having met (face to face) people I only knew from online was a very odd experience. I met up with some people from a former mormon listserve I was on (long time ago).

And figuring out how many people know about say, your blog, is always interesting. Or how many people that you've told about your blog that are actually reading it.

I was struck (at least then) by how much you can know about a person through what they write - but how much writing leaves out. There is much more to a person than their blog (or what they write on a message board). And this is seven years ago.

On the other hand, it (my online presence) is not terribly dissimilar to other social arenas in my life. Various people know various things about me. Most everyone I work with currently remembers when I was pregnant (wasn't too long ago) and asks after my kids. My kids' photos are on my desk, along with a wedding photo. (As an aside, it's still funny to me how most people still think my siblings are my college friends...they find it hard to believe I have so many siblings).

I am not trying to blog about my work here. I'm just saying, some people know things about me because we work together. And that might also create a sense of false intimacy. I am also friends with people I work with, and friends with people I worked with in the past. It is also interesting what questions co-workers will feel comfortable asking.

It can be odd to have those conversations with friends to say - did you mean to say this? Is that what you meant? Or to have someone ask me if I meant what I said. And for the record, I really appreciate it when people do this - ask me for clarification. Because I have been known to stick my foot in my mouth - and I may make an off the cuff remark that is not what I meant to say. Or gives the wrong impression about my beliefs or ideas (or my respect for various people in my life).

This is a good reminder, because I read quite a few blogs. There is certainly no promise of anonymity here (or anywhere). There is also no promise of intimacy. It is good to remember that there are lots of people out there reading, who may have a host of different reactions. And that self-disclosure is not the entire picture. I am much more than what I choose to share here, and so many more people are as well.


jana said...

One thing I have a problem with is that I don't read a lot of the popular Mormon blogs, so when I meet up with people from the 'nacle and I'm introduced to "so-and-so," I realize that everyone expects that I know who they are. But I don't, and that makes me feel uncomfortable.

Aerin said...

Hi jana - I heard an interview some years ago with Bruce Campbell of the Evil Dead was interesting. Basically, he talked about how surreal it was to go from not being recognized in the elevator (before a sci-fi conference) to being an instant celebrity (inside the conference). I sometimes think the blogging world is a little like that.