Online Identities

When a friend suggesed back in 2007 that I should write a blog, I scoffed and said, “Me?  I don’t have anything to say!”  Still, I was intrigued by the concept of blogging.  I tried a couple of different platforms, settled on WordPress, and proceeded to write a post just about every day for months and months.

I still post at http://winterwoman.net, but not as often as in the beginning.  I have thought a lot about the identity I portray on that blog.  I think I am just as guarded there as I am in person.  You know, when you first meet people, you don’t share everything.  There are parts you don’t mind sharing with strangers, but there are other parts that remain private.  It’s no different on my blog.

I should call it my main blog, because I have created lots of spin off blogs that reflect different parts of me.  For example, there is my high school class reunion blog, my photography blog, my hiking blog, and my online learning journals for classes I take.  To learn about the full and complete Jennifer Schlick, you would have to read all of them… even the private ones, if I trust you enough to give you access to those…  Each blog reflects a different facet of me and all together – they probably still don’t paint the full picture.

More dimensions of my identity come together all in one place at Facebook probably more than any other platform.  The community there is such a mixture of friends, family, and professional acquaintenances.  I’m still somewhat guarded, but I share things that don’t show up on my blog.  Like the fact that I experiment with recipes, or meet with friends for a beer at our local brew pub.

A college intern we had at work was thrown for a loop when his labor department supervisor decided to communicate with the group of interns via Facebook.  He didn’t want his “boss” to be a part of that aspect of his life.  We had a conversation about it.  I suggested he may want to create a separate Facebook account for his professional identity.  Or maybe I should have spoken with the Labor Department supervisor and suggested that Linked-In might be a better platform for building professional networks…

The interesting thing about the internet is that you can be whoever you want to be online.  In some cases this leads to deeper intimacy.  But I suspect that in many cases people are just as guarded online as in person.

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