Sunday, July 06, 2008

Challenges and Joys in Living Connected (or, how Social Networks like Facebook and Blogger mean I Now Have to Monitor My Message)

I've talked just a little bit about media and web 2.0 on this blog, but I generally try to avoid it. I find blogging about blogging about as interesting as poetry about poetry (ars poetic) or physics about pysics (metaphysics or quantum mechanics).

But over a couple years ago I did a post called "Our Own Private Paradises" in which I discussed how we are spending our energy carving out our own private experiences, whether it's designing our myspace page or staying at home watching our TiVo instead of seeking collective experiences.

Yet...since 2006, I think I've experienced social networking sites (for me specifically blogging and facebook) create more connectivity than I could have imagined.

I've always been pretty negative towards myspace, and felt like it was a poorly designed and far to under controlled for a middle school and high school proliferation. Those quizzes with 500 random questions "dog or cat? chocolate or vanilla?" where just far too ridiculous to me. And to have all of that floating online was not my cup of tea.

But I have seen the pendulum swings back in my perspective about "private paradises." Recently my wife & I have been making some challenging decisions which is leading us to relocate in about a week.

Yet as this process unfolded, we found ourselves in a place where we had to monitor, censor, and be aware of our online environments.

My wife and I have always been careful to control our online identities in the blog-o-sphere. This has meant not using our last names (our people we know) and not blogging about our jobs, church, or cities in any sort of regular specificity.

Yet we exercise far less caution on facebook. Many people probably still do not know that a moving truck is picking up all our belongings in 8 days and carting them across the US. Part of that has been because we've struggled to control the message.

It has only been this evening that my staff at work found out my wife and I are moving. My boss was aware, but my employees were not. Yet as we were in the process of finding jobs, and have even begun packing we've had to be careful to make sure people didn't comment about our move on facebook, or send congratulatory wall post when we got jobs...because of the vast array of relations that are part of our facebook networks (for example, my boss and my co-workers) there had to be some monitoring of our message.

Similarly, neither of us have felt liberty to blog about our experience. Part of it, because as previously stated, we strive to protect ourselves and our work lives from our blog. But when I bought boxes last week from a used box website, everything in me wanted to blog about it. But again, people in various spheres of our life are aware of our online identities, so it's tricky.

The Silver Lining
The silver lining of this situation is a reassuring one. What it means is that social networking really is allowing us in 2008 to socially connect in ways we couldn't a decade ago.

I may make fun of your twitter stream on your blog, but I still read it. I would probably never call you up to chat, but I love keeping up with you and seeing the pictures of your kids on your blog. I've never met you before but I love reading your reviews because I feel like your perception of movies is similar to mine, and I am interested in your overseas journey.

It's annoying to have to "monitor my message" and make sure that I'm not revealing something about myself that is not public knowledge, and it's even annoying sometimes to make sure you don't write something on my facebook wall or in my comments that people don't know yet...BUT, in my opinion it's worth it, because it means when we do move, it's going to be a lot easier for us to keep touch with friends that we've made along the journey.


jasdye said...

well, i didn't know. so, it must have been well-hidden.

another congratulations. what's next? a run for the senate?

RC said...

@ trapped me...actually I am a senator, and that's why I keep my identity under wraps. The reason I haven't been able to say I'm moving is because as a senator, it's a big deal that I'm stepping down to join up with my perfered presidential candidate for the campaign trail so I might be a member of the candidate, assuming a win in november.

i know, life's going pretty fast for us right now...lots of changes. lots of changes.

Anonymous said...

This was a great post, very true. It is nice that there is this means of communication, and for some people, was a way to know what was going on with you two (three)

Anonymous said...

My husband the Senator, eh? How un-likely patrotic of you.

nate said...

Best of luck! My wife and I are in the middle of the same thing (a BIG move).

Wise words throughout this post (in regards to intentional ambiguity)...I try to be as aloof as possible online, but often my passion/emotion makes it impossible.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Good luck with the move.