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one – faced

September 30, 2008

I read an article on Salon about Facebook mishaps for old people. It goes into to detail about what happens when one accidentally overlaps the worlds one inhabits. i.e You accidentally post a twitter about your hangover, and your boss sees it, and much worse.
Privacy is a huge issue on the internet. Personal privacy. I contend that our concept of privacy is a blip in human history. For most of human history we have lived in tiny villages, tiny communites where the walls were thin. You grew up and everyone knew everything about you and your grandparents. Privacy is new to humans.

But here is what got me thinking. Since before I was 18, I have had a strict separation of my worlds. I have had an alter ego to fall back on, an alternate life to live. Different names, different faces. First it was a job thing, then rollergirls, but i have learned what most people have only discovered since the invention of scoial networking sites- that it is possible to live more than one life.
I am very good at this. So good I believe it has caused me psychological harm. The complete separation of personalities I am capable of has, in the past frightened me. Counselors and shrinks tell me this is a way to deal with the pain of abuse, a way to comparentmentalize pain so it’s not overwhelming. Sort of a very mild multiple personality.
The older i get the less I want to perform these emotional gymnastics. But now, with the rise of the internet and social networking it’s easy and even expected to manage different online personalites. To manage one’s image in a way that is completely new.
But contrary as always, I don’t want to anymore. I’ve been playing this game in real life longer than the internet has been around.

What would happen if you didn’t put your life in boxes? What would happen if your neighbor saw the same face as your boss? What would happen if your mom saw the same face as your best friend?

The internet makes this radical notion of honesty possible, too. When else has your mom, your best friend, the guy you met a that conference, your ex girlfriend, your boss, and the kid who was your best friend when you were 4, and the high school kid that volunteers in your building, been in the same room? When has anyone been able to really be the same face to all these people? What would happen if everyone saw the whole you?

I have spent my whole life showing whomever was looking what they wanted  to see. And I am not going to anymore. I am not going to ‘manage’ my online image, any more than I am going to lie to your face. No private blogs, no multiple profiles.

In the immortal words of popeye, I yam what i yam.

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