I was asked to do this post by Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag as a part of a promotion for the movie Ask Me Anything. It is based off of the novel Undiscovered Gyrl by Allison Burnett. The IMDB page is here and the official Facebook page is here. The idea for this post intrigued me; in fact, I’d been thinking vaguely along the same lines for a little while.
The book/movie centers around a character who chronicles her life in depth on her blog. In that spirit, I’ll discuss how I approach privacy with this blog, and social media in general.
I’m a teenage girl with a smart phone and a laptop. If you think I haven’t been lectured about online safety, you’re dead wrong. I’ve gotten it from countless teachers, school assemblies, parents, practically random passersby. When I started this blog, I got even more.
I get it. This is the age of the internet, where sharing everything is seen as normal. With privacy becoming a thing of the past, no one quite knows how to interact with social media. How much is too much? As colleges and employers jump into the arena and use social media as a quick background check, anxieties rise even more.
“You know that post will never truly go away, right?”
–Every Person Ever
Personally, I don’t use social media much. I have a Facebook, but I use it mostly for school. Most of the clubs and extracurriculars I’m in use Facebook as a way to communicate with members, making not having an account basically impossible. I don’t post many pictures and I don’t think I’ve ever updated my status, but this is driven more by insecurity and a lack of exciting life events than concern about my privacy. I haven’t gotten into Twitter, Instagram, or the dozens of other social media outlets that exist currently, but this is because of laziness and my aforementioned lame life rather than for privacy issues.
I do have a Snapchat. I like how the pictures disappear as soon as they are viewed. (Whether or not you believe that is a completely other discussion, but I’m taking Snapchat at their word for this.) I post pictures to my Story occasionally (where all my friends can view it for 24 hours). Snapchat works for me because of the lack of permanence. Clearly, I’m not crazy about putting myself out there into the world.
Blogging is different for me.
I’m really comfortable posting things on this blog. I feel that I have been very honest with myself and my readers in my posts. I never get super personal, but I’m guessing if you are an obsessive stalker, you could find me. (Please don’t, though. Seriously.)
It helps that most of my readers aren’t people directly connected to my personal life. I’ve always felt more comfortable getting compliments from people who only see my work and not myself, and this blog has accentuated that. I like that this blog lives in a weird universe connected to my personal life but with no connection to the people in my life.
I have just recently given my friends and some of my family my site address. The reception has been positive, but I have definitely noticed that I have started censoring myself based on the people I know will read my posts. I hate that and I’m trying to avoid it.
Privacy with this blog involves how much of my personality, thought processes, personal opinions, and reflections I share, mainly through my writing. I don’t write about day-to-day events, so that aspect of privacy does not come into this blog. Being personal, telling the truth about the raw and emotional parts of my life, is a challenge that I force myself to meet. Typing it on my computer is the first step, posting it on this blog and getting feedback is the second, crucial step.
For me, the people close to me are more daunting that those who are far away. If you know me, you can read much more into my writing than someone who doesn’t. If I see you on a daily basis, we might talk about what I wrote. I’m still coming to terms with this level of blog-to-reality connection. I enjoy it when people respond positively to my posts, but there are some things that I want to write about but hold back on when I know who will read it.
I don’t write under a pen name. I’m Jocelyn. My sister calls me Joc (phonetically Joss). My little sisters call me Jocie. My grandfather calls me Miss J. I’m not going to put my last name on here (I doubt) and the email I have isn’t my main one, it’s one I created for school and rarely use other than for this blog. I don’t have any pictures of myself on here, but that’s again borne from a lack of good pictures than a freakish fear of being on the internet. You can see some (weird) pictures of me at my sister’s blog.
Deciding how much of my personal identity to share on this blog is made easier by the fact that I don’t really blog about my life. I blog about the books I read and the stuff I write, and of course my personal life comes up in the periphery. I’m comfortable with how much I share, but I’m always conscious of the details I put out there. Part of me is annoyed that society has me so completely stressed about minor details of my life floating around on the internet, and part of me has listened to too many lectures to tell myself it doesn’t matter.
But what I’ve discovered after almost ten months with 52 Letters in the Alphabet, is that I absolutely love blogging. I love writing about the books I read and sharing the experience with other readers. I love the community that I’ve joined. I’ll admit, the first time I was mentioned by name in regards to this blog (I think it was in a blog award) it really weirded me out. It is only recently that the phrase “Jocelyn @ 52 Letters in the Alphabet” feels familiar rather than foreign. It’s a new part of my identity, but I’m proud of it. I’m happy that I’ve connected my personal life to this blog, and I don’t want to give that up because of the general societal fear surrounding privacy on the internet.
Here’s my take on the whole issue: The internet exists. Growing up in my generation, I can’t avoid it. There are parts of my life that are unavoidably connected to the internet, there are others that I’ve willingly connected. I’m okay with this. This is the new status quo. How much is too much? I think the answer to the question needs to be an individual one, based off of confidence and extroverted-ness, rather than a fear of sharing our lives with others. The meaning of privacy is changing and we need to be aware of that. But the answer is almost never to jump ship, and we should not abandon all connection to the wonderful tool that is the internet because of a new definition of privacy.