I’ve had a secret blog for nine years. It’s not totally secret, but if you don’t know about it already, you’re probably not going to find out. Blogging is one of three things I’ve experienced in my adult life that has changed my life. At first, my blog was just a place to post online quiz results and a way of keeping in touch, before Facebook, with some people from college. Over time, though, it became much more than that. There is a positive to lack of privacy on the Internet (that is, if it’s carefully controlled lack of privacy). I can say anything on my other blog, and because I have said anything in an interactive forum where people have listened and questioned me and related to me and supported me, I’ve learned to accept parts of myself I never thought I could. I’ve learned to own my own words and the self they represent, not to be embarrassed of shit I wrote there when I was 22 because it was necessary for me to write what I wrote then in order to write what I’m writing now. For me, blogging isn’t just a way of recording the past; it’s a tool for moving forward.
For a long time, I’ve wanted to open up that space, to have a way of sharing the important things that happen there with everyone, not just a select few people. Of course, the irony is that the growth that happens over there is only possible because of the security of the site. I don’t have to worry about relatives or bosses or students or whomever finding it. So about a year ago, I bought this blog with the intention of producing a version of my other one that is fit for public consumption. I still don’t want this blog associated with my real name on the Internet (I don’t want to be Google-able), but the idea is that…well, also about a year ago, I did a radical thing, which was to delete my Facebook account. In a way, I created this blog as a way of going rogue from Fb. Because I don’t have a problem with social networking or curating the self (actually, I love those things); what bothers me are products that are billed as something they’re not, which I came to believe is absolutely the case with Fb. On the surface, it’s a free service that facilitates connections between people, but underneath that, it’s a manipulative marketing tool that exploits a human longing for meaningful interaction in the interest of generating wealth for a small handful of people. I didn’t want to be part of that anymore, but it was hard to cut ties with acquaintances I knew I wouldn’t interact with anywhere else.
A few weeks ago, I dreamed I was uploading some photos to Google+, which I don’t use for photo sharing in real life. I was uploading a picture of someone standing next to a piece of graffiti and got a message from Google that said, “It looks like this person is committing a crime.” In the dream, they froze my account and wouldn’t even let me check my email until I filled out some kind of legal form. The thing about this dream is that it doesn’t seem that farfetched to me. I believe Google’s “Don’t be evil” slogan less and less as the Internet becomes primarily a vehicle for data mining and advertising in the guise of “social networking.” Blogging is, to me, a way of enjoying more of the positive aspects of social networking (self-expression, maintaining and developing friendship, exchanging new ideas) while minimizing the negative aspects (superficiality, lack of controllable privacy, insidious marketing). If you’re reading this and we used to be Facebook friends, I still want to socially network with you, I just don’t want to do it on Mark Zuckerberg’s terms. I invite you to keep in touch with me here.