Deb Linda Ponders Privacy

So I was talking with TG about this week’s topic.

Me: “Ack! I need an original idea about social media! The other Debs have already hit the good stuff. Help!!”

(Aside: This is the hazard of being Friday Deb — coming up with a take on the subject that hasn’t already been…well, taken. Some weeks are harder than others.)

After handing me a Manhattan (pretty much his cure-all for all my panicky moments), he referred me back to one of his Facebook status updates:

“Random thought dept: Is Facebook a platform for: A-Guiltless Voyeurism? B-Acceptable Exhibitionism? or C-Friendship with Training Wheels?”

(Personally, I think he left off “D-All of the above.”)

The part about “voyeurism” and “exhibitionism” did get me thinking, though, and not just my typically naughty thoughts. Pardon my Fogey Moment here, but sometimes I do wonder if we’re losing the concept of “privacy” entirely in this internet age.

Yeah, I know. This from the woman who posted a picture of herself in the shower right here on this blog. (My second post, the one on places I write. If you’re wondering.) Ironic, huh?

But, see, that was Author Linda, not Everyday Linda. Author Linda does a lot of things Everyday Linda wouldn’t be caught dead doing.

Even Author Linda (let’s call her “AL,” shall we?) has her limits. AL rarely makes more than vague references to her children online, because they are adults, with their own lives and interests, and their stories are now officially their own to share or not share as they see fit.

It’s not easy, either, because there’s a crap-ton of hilarious stories that involve my kids, and you know how tough it is for writers not to tell stories. BUT Everyday Linda (EL) wishes to remain on speaking terms with said adult children, and hopes they pick out a really snazzy nursing home for her one day, so she muzzles AL.

Same goes for my beloved TG. The astute among you may have guessed by now that “Theater God” is not my husband’s real name. (Though it IS what he likes me to yell out in bed at those special moments.)

Wait! See, right there? That previous sentence, the one in the parentheses? Not true.* I totally made it up for comedic effect. But that’s okay, because TG has a great sense of humor, and has told me I’m free to use his (fake) name in vain as I see fit.)

*Or maybe it IS true, and saying it’s not true is the lie. Ooooh, got you wondering now, don’t I? Bwah-ha-hah!

Anyway, I guess the AL/EL split personality is my way of dealing with social media privacy concerns. How about you guys? How do you keep your online self separate from your offline, everyday self? Or do you even try?

Bonus points if you tell me the most shocking thing you’ve ever seen revealed by one of your online acquaintances at a social media site.

(Um, you don’t have to say who, mind you. In fact, it might be best not to. I believe people should be responsible for  embarrassing themselves.)

36 Replies to “Deb Linda Ponders Privacy”

    1. LOL! Have to admit, I wasn’t thinking of memoirists when I wrote this post. *grin* Though I’ll bet there are some things even the most candid memoirist won’t tell. 😉

  1. i think the real trick is to make people think you’re spilling private information, when in fact, it’s not. i can’t think of a time when i did this, but your pal tawna fenske’s very good at it.

    1. So true! I try never to be near a computer when I’m fuming. A little crabby sometimes, maybe. You can make crabby amusing. But fuming? Not a good idea. 🙂

  2. I’m pretty much the same online and offline. Any sense of privacy on the internet is an illusion anyway, even for those people who don’t have a “public” persona. Any hacker worth his/her salt could dig out any personal detail they wanted from any online record system, including tax info, medical info, you name it. It would only take them a few seconds to dig out the “real” identity behind a blog. The good news is the hackers just don’t care enough about us as individuals to be bothered.

    And as far as every-day readers go, I doubt if anybody would want to sift through all the infodump. Last time I googled my name, there were 50 pages of hits. Even I don’t want to know that much about me. 🙂

    1. That’s what I’m counting on — the “who cares who she really is” factor. I’m trying to strike a balance between being interesting enough that people want to read my books, but not so interesting someone wants to stalk me. *grin*

  3. Another winner, doll. You tapped into the subject I think we’ve been “dancing” around all week, so thank you. And thanks to TG, too.

    For me, the line in the sand is pretty deep and pretty clear. Like you, I keep my personal information limited really to me–and sometimes my husband. (Besides which he’s so much better-looking than me, I’ll gladly post his picture over mine any day.)For anything that seems to personal, I’ll move over to email. I think it’s important to remember that even if you have a wide berth of reveal, that others may not. This can happen a lot on twitter–even I’ve sometimes forgotten in the heat of a twitter thread that while it’s @ one person, EVERYONE is reading it. (God, that sounded self-centered, didn’t it? You know what I mean;))

    But getting serious for a moment (am I allowed to do that on Deb Linda Friday? I’m not sure), I do worry for younger people who use FB and other sites and may not yet appreciate the lasting nature of their posts.

    1. Thank you, my dear. And you can be as serious as you like on Deb Linda Fridays. Also, if your husband is better looking than you, he must be a romance cover model, and I hereby invite you both to dinner so I can ogle him. 😉

  4. I try to keep “me” separate. Sometimes I’m much better at it than other times. I try not to rant or become involved in divisive discussions. Or share too much personal info. It’s not easy.

    1. Yeah, I sit on my fingers a lot — the internet equivalent of biting my tongue. Some might think it cowardly, but I prefer my time online to remain pleasant.

  5. So much interesting in this post! First of all, I totally have the they’ve-already-said-everything! problem on Thursdays, too. But you do such a brilliant job of making things fresh! Really. Totally inspiring.

    Second, I love the idea that Facebook is “friendship-with-training-wheels.” I may need to steal, er, borrow that sometime. With credit given to Deb Linda and TG of course!

    Third, yes! I love what you say about Author Linda versus Everyday Linda. It’s so hard not to, sort of, become a caricature of yourself in your writing. For me, the most flattering thing my friends say when they read my writing is that they can hear me in their head, or see me doing what I say. A friend read an excerpt of my book and was like “I just feel like we’re having a conversation. It’s so you!” which is the ultimate compliment. But of course, there are times when I am more serious or less awkward, than the author version of myself. AJ Jacobs wrote about that once , and now i’ve wasted the last 40 minutes trying to find that quote in the book, so I’m cutting myself off now….

    1. Thanks! And TG says you’re welcome to borrow his “friendship with training wheels.” He’s tickled you like it. 🙂

      Re MWF Seeking BFF — I just can’t imagine you’re not exactly like you come across in your book. Reading it made me feel like I was really, truly getting to know YOU, not a caricature-y you at all. 🙂

      1. Ok, here’s an argument for social media if there ever was one: I tweeted that I just spent 40 minutes looking for a book passage. AJ Jacobs, the books author, saw the tweet, and direct messaged me to see if he could help. I told him what I was looking for, and he emailed it right to me. AMAZING!

        And here’s the passage I was thinking of, said better than I could:

        “Calvin Trillin, in his wonderful tribute to his late wife Alice, said that every writer portrays his or her family somewhere on the spectrum between sitcom and Lifetime movie. Julie and mine is firmly in the sitcom genre. She’s the sensible one, the straight man to my wacky schemes. She’s makes the realistic decisions, I do what she says.

        Our real marriage is like the one portrayed in my books, and yet it isn’t. I overrepresent the conflict, for one thing. It’s not that the conflict doesn’t exist. The fights happen. But I don’t write about the hours of peaceful, contented coexistence.

        But here’s the weird thing – I think the reality is starting to catch up with the writing. We’re starting to act more and more like our characters from my books. We do the bantering with more frequency. She rolls her eyes more often at my antics.

        I think this happens in every relationship, not just writers. Each partner gets a label – the messy one, the neurotic one, the forgetful one — and then they start to live up to that label. That’s what I’ve noticed in my experiments: Almost everything in life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Probably even believing in self-fulfilling prophecies is a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

        1. Wow! The power of Twitter. And that’s a GREAT passage.

          I have a friend who once told me my family was like a cross between Leave it to Beaver and The Simpsons. You know, I can’t say she was entirely wrong. *grin*

  6. I bet we all reveal a little (or a lot) more than we think we do. Fortunately for me, I’ve never in real life ever done or said anything at all embarressing in any way so don’t have to worry revealing what happened that time I said to the lieutenant commander that two glasses of wine would get me drunk and he bought me three, which I drank …

  7. Hmmm, I’m probably more apt to blab something inappropriate in person than I am online. Online, I have the option of re-reading and editing before I hit that send button. Not so in real life. One of my DILs had some deep down inappropriate stuff on her FB page a while back, and I reminded her that Grandma (mot me … my MIL) might read it. She changed it. Smart gal.

    1. Wouldn’t it be great if we could edit real life? Gosh, I would be so witty in person if only I could have do-overs. *grin* And you’re a good MIL. 🙂

  8. I do a pretty lousy job of separating the two — plastering stuff about my kids on my blogs and letting them do guest posts. Someday I may regret it … or they may stage a coup. But until then, blab, blab, blab …

    1. Hey, I read your blog. You never say anything inappropriate about your kids. And, heck, if they do guest posts, that’s their decision, so it’s cool. 🙂

  9. I’m fully ready to admit, part of the entertainment of Twitter is watching drunk tweets and cat fights. I don’t do either, but I’ve been known to grab a beverage, make popcorn, and put my feet up while lurking when my timeline gets juicy. Oh, and the married people flirting with each other! Actually, that one really bugs me. But as you stated, when people do this, it’s all OUT THERE. And I think they forget this. All I can say to everyone is, THINK before you hit enter. Or don’t, I have to get my kicks somehow!

    1. LOL! Okay, I admit I’m guilty of this same voyeuristic thing. Sometimes it’s tough to turn away from the train wrecks happening before your eyes in the tweet stream.

  10. Ooh — another great post — love this week!

    I’d say I’m pretty much the same online and in real life… just edited. I’m very careful about talking about my husband and Miss M, b/c husb’s work-peeps read my blog (oh the opportunities I could have for hilarity if I didn’t value my marriage!), and even though Miss M is only 7, I only have so much money for her therapy bills in later life. I don’t even use their real names, which I recognize is kind of silly since Populazzi is dedicated to them, but I just feel more comfortable that way.

    I’ll share like wild about myself, but only when it’s effective for comedy or mass communication. Blogs, Twitter, and FB aren’t therapy sessions.

    I have experienced the entertainment value of other people dropping their boundaries on social media. It’s a gasp-inducing train wreck, and sucks much less time out of life than an episode of Jersey Shore!

    1. LOL! Smart lady. Yeah, and kids are tech-savvy enough to track down anything you say about them online, too, so it’s not like you can hide it from them forever.

    1. Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. Not that a determined person couldn’t find out the info if they really wanted to, but why make it easy for them?

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