Friday, November 2, 2012

On Internet ~Stalking

I've been enjoying the show Elementary quite a bit..not so much for the mysteries, but for the really refreshing and fun dynamic between Holmes and Watson. This show came under quite a bit of criticism for various things before it even began so it's been really fun to watch them...succeed? Like I think a lot of the things people complained about have ended up being unfounded. Though it would be awesome if someone who genuinely loved writing mysteries could write for the show, but whatever.

Anyway, in last week's episode (not last night's, I haven't watched yet!) Joan was set up on a date with a guy. She felt like he was lying to her about having been married so she googled him. She expressed some reluctance to doing this but Sherlock convinced her and she found out that in fact he was married!

She asked him about it and he explained his situation, but the episode sort of ended with him being so creeped out that she'd googled him that their relationship didn't go forward. I have to admit I was really surprised by this...I mean maybe I'm a creepy person? But I really didn't think that it was a big deal. I sort of expect that people might google me now (luckily my name is super common!). I mean anyone who has done any job hunting in the past few years knows how much you're warned about potential employers checking out your online presence or current employers being aware of your online activity!

Feeling weirded out makes sense to an extent, though. We're no longer in control of the way people know us and there is a world of information available on the internet. Especially if you've been like me and had a blog and participated in public conferences, etc. Or you have anything of public record. That information is much more readily available now and anyone can find it and maybe not in the way we'd prefer or at the pace we'd like.

Those of you who know me know this is an endlessly fascinating topic to me, the different ways we know each other. And the internet creates this whole other way of knowing each other or makes it more common. Like, sometimes I'll hear from an old friend who tells me they've actually been reading my blog. It always surprises me because while I recognize anyone can read this blog, I always visualize like 30 people in my mind that I'm writing to, the people I think of as my readers even though I know by numbers there are potentially hundreds more. (I don't think every subscriber reads every post, etc.) It catches me off guard sometimes when someone thinks they know me from reading my blog..and to be fair they do sort of know me, but I have no idea who they are because they never comment. It's and odd sort of one-sided relationship where they have formed opinions and feelings about me while I know nothing about them. Almost like how celebrities must feel when they discover people are invested in their life who they don't even know!

But there's something about a person's written self that is different from their spoken self...not in a way that's like OH MY GOSH YOU'RE DIFFERENT THAN I EXPECTED, just something more...true. People become vulnerable in their writing and often let themselves bleed in their writing in a way that is uncomfortable in spoken conversation. There's the fact that in writing you can take your time with your words, there's the way you're all alone, and even when you anticipate an audience, there's no one looking right at you not understanding what you're trying to say. If you want say something disturbing and dark, or gloomy and sad about yourself you can get it all without interruption. No one will rush in to offer appeasing words or comforting words or judgment. I think we let ourselves be open in writing online in a way that is often difficult in person. And it can change our relationships.

It's an interesting dilemma, though. This blog, for example, is a partial record of who I have been over the years, but it's only a part, not the totality of who I am. Even so, if a new friend were to read it they'd be gaining a quicker intimacy with who I am than if our relationship progressed outside of it. The internet and blogging can really change the way we know each other.

So that's what Elementary made me think of last week! Are you guys watching it? Have any thoughts about the way your blog has changed your relationships?


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