succumbing to peer pressure

Monday, August 06, 2007

Should I be more worried?

A friend is packing in her blog, for the second time, partially to reserve some brain space for her own, non-internetty work, but also partially to protect her anonymity. Which makes me wonder, for the umpteenth time, if I am perhaps blissfully naive about this whole public/private persona thing. My blog isn't nearly as popular as either of hers, and doesn't really show up anywhere with a lot of readers. I've always relied on the commonality of my full name to provide an initial layer of anonymity. But if you have some clue as to who I am in the real world, a few obvious key words added to my name will point google in the right direction (to both my scholarly works and this blog). This doesn't really bother me much. Although I do try to write honestly here, I also keep in the back of my mind the possibility of parents or coworkers stumbling across my words. And although I'd prefer that not to happen, I can't really point to any posts here that I would be unable to stand behind were that to happen. Nor can I think of anything that would be grounds for not hiring me, at least at the sort of company/organization where I would want to work (maybe that's the naive part). So am I being willfully ignorant? In denial? When I stop being a student would it really be prudent to pack it in and hide all evidence of my online life?


Blogger A White Bear said...

As far as I can tell, it seems like your private/public personae are not terribly different. You have a good, honest relationship with your parents, and though you've talked honestly about it here, I don't remember you having said much that would shock them if they found you. Also, having a relatively common name would help. I recently realized that Google's suggest function offers up my full name from my first name and first three letters of my last, and I'm really the only person who comes up.

Plus, I think I was just feeling like my pseudonymous life, which is great and totally rewarding, is actually a little too rewarding. I have a hard time being RealMe sometimes when the opportunity to be AWB (both IRL and online) is always available. Does that make sense?

Also, only you know what the costs of blogging in your field are. Might writing earnest stuff about your work hamper you on the job market if someone found out?

3:06 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

"Might writing earnest stuff about your work hamper you on the job market if someone found out?"

That's where I keep going round in circles. I like to think that all the topics on which I spout off passionately (reproductive health, public health advocacy in general, etc.) are so important to me that I would never end up in the position where a hypothetical employer not only disagreed with my positions, but was so offended by my words that they wouldn't hire me. But maybe I'm being naive about that. Or maybe I'm assuming a level of choosiness in my job application process that just won't be a reality.

Certainly if I do end up in a government or policy-related career I'll have to re-think my blog, not so much because of past words but because then I think it would become too difficult to censor myself. In that case it would be irresponsible to talk about work or my personal policy positions, as they could feasibly be linked back up to whomever I worked for, and I think it would be more trouble than it was worth to keep those things out of my writing.

But I think you're right - I've always thought of my online personality as the same as my real world one, and although my words here might not always be my first choice in a public forum, I hope that if my hypothetical future boss were to overhear me saying any of them I would be no more than slightly embarrassed, certainly not career-jeopardized.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Sudiptya said...

I wouldnt worry too much about it, hon. First off, the areas of public health policy that you want to work in seem to be fairly liberal in outlook... definitely a plus when it comes to transparency of ideas.

Secondly, the issue is more to protect yourself for a cursory search, and you seem pretty well protected there. I mean, if someone really wants to dig into what you've written, said, and posted online, its easy to find SOMETHING that could be considered damaging. Mostly, all you need to do is make sure what you put out there isn't found by stumbling.... you don't use last names, you use nicknames (eg, the Canadians), etc. so I think you're fine.

So, no need to censor yourself yet. When you *are* employed, you'll have to revisit that decision, but I think you're good to go now.


11:59 AM  

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