Open-ness, or really a guard of secrecy?

10 Apr

I would like to argue that blogging openness is more about protection of secrecy than any web-conditioned ability for self-exposure.

After someone at work commented that they could never be “open enough” to blog, I’ve been thinking. Although the thought has been pretty clear these last few weeks, it was this voicing-aloud that has made me challenge the concept.

To begin, note what one of my friends so wisely reminds me,

[21:16:45] Nexami Engeo says: I think people do have the right to certain amounts of privacy, but stuff that is to do with more than the self should be public

  • So, firstly, there is a balance to be obtained in all these things.
  • Secondly, this balance is important. People do care about their privacy. Whatever their level of ‘exposure’, everyone draws the line somewhere. It matters to people what side of the line things fall on.
  • Thirdly, it is a particularly subjective issue. It deals directly with our ‘interface’ to the outside world. There is the dilemma over levels of privacy – some people are naturally more private than others. To add even more complication, everyone has different aspects of their life they enjoy having associated with themselves and including in their social framework.

For example, my friend nex enjoys singing in his band – “exposing” his emotional connection with music – whereas for me to sing would be my worst nightmare. Everyone would politely say “Oh, that was nice.” and cringe as I start the next verse. And I don’t even enjoy it really… I enjoy singing when everyone else is singing too, but singing for the sake of making an exhibition of myself just seems ridiculous to me.

So, based on this foundation, I would now propose that these are all very good reasons why such a delicate balance should be in the control of the person whos privacy is being considered. ‘Exposing oneself’ by blogging helps to gain control of what picture is predominently painted about oneself.

Ok, so all this is about writing a blog. But what is far more subtle, is that by blogging about some topics, implicitly you are also deliniating the boundaries of what is not “fair game”. The line in the sand that marks out the begining of that grey area that begins to resemble ‘personal space’.

And I think in a strange convoluted way, it is this concept that I find so attractive.

As a child I was shy and introverted. (Yep, I mean far worse than I am now!)

I resented being asked questions. Don’t know why, but it grated on me. (There was something there to do with me being told that certain questions I shouldn’t answer, yet if someone with authority asked me, I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place.)

But then gradually I realised that people weren’t always asking questions because they wanted to know the answers, but they were asking because it was their way to show me they were interested in me, and cared about me.

When I realised this, it made me cry for the way I must have caused hurt to many-a-patient-friend. And so I tried to enjoy answering questions.

But I didn’t enjoy it.

Sometimes just one simple question can make me seize up inside, and go “Arg, Spanish Inquisition at my service, again!” It won’t even be anything personal against the friend I’m speaking to… it just rubs me up the wrong way.

Serendipitiously, I discovered the solution to this problem. I found if I told people stuff before they asked me, then that way I was being sociable without having to take count-to-ten pauses all the time. And I actually enjoyed it too. People got to know me, and so they were happy. (This must have happened sometime when I was at uni, I guess, when I was left to my own resources to find my feet.)

This is where the ‘open-ness’ started. As time went on, it became even more sly 😛 I discovered that by volunteering my information, I had much more selectivity at my disposal as to which direction I steered the conversation. Somehow the passivity of answering questions, and a naive concept of honesty usually left me with very blunt, straightforward, no-room-for-manoveour answers. But story-telling was different. The havering-me was born!

Inside I still feel a very shy little thing. Sometimes I still catch myself clamming up for no apparent reason, and just not being able to motivate myself to find something interesting to say. Or find anything to say.

It was this personal-history knowledge that first put seeds of doubt in my head regarding my supposed blogging revelations. I knew that wasn’t ‘me’ as I know myself.

Blogging lets me out of a tough corner. I can have my own cute wee secrets. On occasion I can even be forced into revealing some of them against my preferred will. But then I will not choose to reveal such details when I am making a completely free choice. By having a medium at my disposal over which I have personal control, I am able to have a soap-box to conspicously not-shout at.

As an additional food-for-thought, I would also suggest that people are more likely to respect someones choice to keep certain sides of their life closed for public viewing if they can know clearly where they stand with respect to them.

In conclusion, therefore, only the information that I volunteer can be accepted as no-strings-attached stuff you can grab-a-hold of and say, “Hey, that’s Rach all right!”

Ps: Of course, this doesn’t really hold for much in practice. Depending who you’re talking to, and what context you are in, there is a whole host of “permission-settings” to be taken into account. But I thought it was a neat wee philosophical argument all the same!

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Posted by on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 in philosophy


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