Thursday, May 29, 2008

Personal vs Private:

Express Expose Yourself?

Throughout this year, I have come across many different posts about whether personal information that can be found online should be considered private. (Look at Jules' mention of anonymity and name choice on that last one.)

The most recent one was over at Connecting the Dots just yesterday. Mike wonders "why every other generation is so obsessed with secrecy and self-imposed isolation." I think this idea probably is connected to the Western (and particularly American) near-worship of the individual, often at the expense of the group.

But "personal" and "private" don't mean the same thing. The difference isn't professional/personal, at least not when you're blogging; it's public/private. Like it or not, when you share information with the public, it becomes public information, no matter how personal it may be. So it is wise to be judicious about what you share - especially if you choose not to give out your name because you're concerned about unpleasant fallout from what you write. It is NOT that hard to find out someone's identity.

There's definitely something to be said against feeling like you have to choose between either hiding your blog or not blogging at all. On the other hand, no one is ever completely "transparent." It's not actually possible to share every single detail about your life (at least not as far as I know).

We all make choices about what we decide to share and what doesn't need to be shared. I don't often tell other teachers about my role-playing games. Maybe there's a little bit of "THEY'RE ALL GONNA LAUGH AT YOU!" to it, but mostly it's because I don't think they'd 'get it.'

I do not discuss lesson planning with my Sunday School class because that isn't the right setting. But I don't really see that as self-censorship. Responding to different situations or environments in different ways is not "a lack of authenticity." It's finesse.

Or possibly it's modesty.

So, how do you choose what to publish and what to keep private?


The Science Goddess said...

I think that there is a definite generation gap developing. People younger than 20 see no issue with sharing personal information on-line. This is because even though the information is "public" in the sense that anyone could access it, they're really just writing for their friends.

Employers, etc. will likely become more tolerant of information over time. After all, prior to the on-line age, kids were still partying and doing other things, they just didn't post it on-line...and made good workers, anyway.

Clix said...

I'm not entirely sure; with that generation, it seems to be tied in to their sense of entitlement - "I can say whatever I want and you can't do anything about it! This is a FREE COUNTRY!"

Hopefully they will learn moderation after they've been bitten a few times by reality. ;)

Mrs. Chili said...

See? This is where I take my students with my First Amendment unit. It IS a free country and you can say anything that you want, but you can't say anything that you want without any consequences. You can lose a friend (or a marriage). You can lose your job. You can lose your reputation. All MANNER of terrible things can happen to you as a result of your speech - the ONLY thing the First Amendment guarantees is that Congress can't pass laws to regulate speech, and that's ALL it says.

This is SUCH a sticky issue. I'm going to think some more about it and come back in a bit....

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