Jo’s post today has also got me thinking around the subject…

I’ve been thinking lately that I have a very odd mixed attitude to my online identity. On the one hand, I’m very proud of my site and my journal. I’m happy for people who Google for me to find my website, and my website has my real name and my city on it which, to be honest, would be enough to find me in the phone book if I’m not ex-directory (I can’t remember – I’ll have to check). And yet I’ve only very recently made my livejournal email address avaible to my friends via my profile. Which is insane because anyone with a small amount of knowledge about LJ could deduce the existence of that address anyway. And LJ will mangle it to protect me from spambots. My birthday and location are still set to be private (which makes me wonder why I’ve filled them in) even though that much location info is already available on my website (and, taking a closer look, in my bio) and I’m not that sensitive about my age or anything. It doesn’t make sense.

What seems to happen is that given an plain text area, I’m able to be pretty relaxed about what I reveal about myself. However, presented with a checkbox saying “Hide information x from the general public” I almost always seem to choose the most paranoid setting I can possibly put it on. The only thing I can ascribe it to is a lifetime of checking the “Do not send me fucking junk mail or send my info to other people who might want to” box on every form I fill in – the legacy of being the daughter of a cynical advertising exec. In the cold light of day though, the whole thing seems inconsistent, so I’m going to overcome my nerves (what the hell does it matter if anyone knows my birthday anyway!) I’ve decided to mark it all as public. It’s possible that this will result in a flood of support requests over IM/email for me, but I am the master of the polite brush-off 🙂

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is putting some more concrete contact details online but here I’m not going to rush in here. If you don’t know me in real life, you could, given a stalker-like determination, get in contact with me IRL but the dividing line between contact in meat space and contact online is pretty clearly drawn at the minute, although there are a few of you who blur it on occasion. I’ve seen a lot of people put contact information in friends only or filtered posts, but I don’t really quite feel comfortable with either. I don’t necessarily want everyone who’s entries I want to read to be able to ring me up, but I think I’d find the choices in creating a custom filter for that pretty tricky. In the end, I think I want to control any transition from online to real world relationships at least to a certain extent and there’s a certain element of need-to-know. There’s not a lot of point in just randomly giving out my phone number – most of you will never want or need to phone me. So I guess this is something I’m going to put on a need to know basis. I’m not saying I won’t give it out – I just won’t be sticking it up for everyone to see.

I found the mood and direction of these thoughts to be strangely echoing some of my own thoughts earlier today. You see, I think I can understand where tinyjo is coming from with the uncertainty of online v. in person existance. I was just thinking earlier today, of my decision to not let the opinions of (a few) unhelpful and unkind people dictate what I want to do, and to be myself – starting this journal almost a year ago was part of that, to put myself out there and try some new, fun things.

This being so, why have I made the first three posts of this year *friends only*? Why have a great deal of my posts towards the end of last year been friends only? In part this latter question can be answered by explaining that these protected entries have been put behind a *writing* filter, as these may not be of interest to all people, but there are others…? Having discovered recently that there are some people who I would perhaps not have chosen to read my journal have found it, I guess I have subconciously elected to screen some of my thoughts into places that they cannot see. Why? I don’t shout about my journal but if I really minded people finding it I wouldn’t have put it so clearly within the framework of my website … it’s not even if I care particularly what they think or might say, as I don’t value the opinions that people of that mindset have.

Hrmm… it’s all very odd, and this post probably doesn’t even make any sense?!! I’m probably being overly-sensitive (as is my way) and make many more of my posts open to all. What do you think?