Facebook has been rolling out its yet-another-“why hello there, new privacy” settings to you and to me in various alerts and yellow dialog boxes over the last week, providing me the chance to once again wonder whether I like this constant opportunity to reappraise what I share with whom and when.
As often occurs to me when I’m thinking of gardens and walls like these, I think of Logan’s Run. As the Old Man says:
You know, they’ve each got three names. Yes. The naming of cats is a difficult matter, It’s just not one of your holiday games; You may think at first that I am mad as a hatter, When I tell you that each cat’s got three different names. See, they got their ordinary name and then they got their fancy name. And that makes two names, doesn’t it? And now it’s got a third name. Can either of you two guess what that third name is? Come on! Above and beyond, there’s one name that’s left over, and this is the name you never will guess. The name that no human research can discover, but the cat itself knows, and never will confess.
(Abridged from The Naming of Cats by T.S. Eliot)
It’s true. Like everybody, I have many faces. The Moya Watson you read here is usually carefully — sometimes even thoughtfully — crafted. I guess you could say this is my “fancy name.” (Though if you look to my earlier writings, they’re a lot more internal-monologue — imported from the nascent days of Blogger.)
Whereas, the moyalynne on Twitter is probably my “ordinary name.” This is my every-day “I’d rather be skiing than going to work” or “My daughter just said the most amazing thing” or “I just spilled my coffee”-silverware — and it’s published, for everyone, to see. It’s easy. Just like that.
AND THEN there’s Facebook. The Moya Watson on Facebook — like many — opens up a bit more in moments and images of herself and her family (usually ironically finding more nurture for this openness within the walled gardens of this closed environment). But she does this with people she knows, whereas with Twitter, she gets to meet people she never before knew.
Well, it was a somewhat easy distinction. Facebook, in starting to poke holes in that T.S.-Eliot-like interface, is drawing into a bigger Web of confusion. And the more we can tweak more of exactly who sees what and where (if we can fathom the Privacy Settings UI), the more the “Moya Watson of Facebook” finds she becomes an enigma.
It’s constantly strange to me when the freedom to just be who you are increases exponentially with more layers of protection. While no “social network” yet exists for the me inside my head, the name only I know and shall never confess, if it escaped it would probably — and then in that act itself — resemble little of me anyway.
At the present, I simply close those yellow alert boxes and find it’s too much worry trying to remain consistent and definitely too alienating for my psyche to have “the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload.” I’m finding I worry less and less about when all these people converge, and simply just exist. Maybe even (gasp) not post. It’s the “Look at your palm! The Crystal! It’s clear!” moment.
Logan, look! Look at your palm. The crystal. It’s clear … We’re free! It must be
And yet, I post.
Great blog entry, Moya. These are definitely questions we all need to struggle with on a daily basis if we decide to exist in online social networks. I didn’t remember the 3 names bit from Logan’s Run. Excellent. But it seems like you’ve got probably at least 8 — the who you are at work, the who you are on this blog, the who you are on twitter, the who you are on FB, the who you are in one on one or small group interactions with friends and family (which may be two “names”), the who you are with your daughter, the who you are with your wife, and the who you are in your own head. Really, it’s infinite. But social networks create the danger of exposing an inner layer to people you really didn’t mean to expose it to. It used to be you’d have to get drunk at the company holiday party for that to happen.
so true, victor — and i stare that danger in the face and say: make me at peace with my inner layers and all is fine.
there may be something to be said for getting drunk at the company party. we’ve all done it — metaphorically — no?