Thursday, January 6, 2011

Drawing A Line

I am a big fan of technology. Not without its flaws I do believe it offers us more positive than not. For example yesterday  sitting with my financial planner, the fact that  he could pull up my portfolio in real time, something that we couldn't have done ten years ago is pretty cool.  Or the miracle that I can talk via Skype to my friend Jane in Australia and it not cost either of us a penny.  I can sit in my home office and write about whatever I choose and with the tap of the publish button allow whoever is so inclined  the access to read it. These are all good things.

But then there is the down side. The noise factor. The overload of information. The things that inspired my Tech Detox Diet last year. When is it too much?

Exactly where do we draw the lines about that which we want to make public?

I got to thinking about this as I was reading a recent post on Penelope Trunk's blog. I have followed her since I started blogging, not because I am necessarily a fan of her perspective on the workplace but because she has without a doubt carved a niche for herself. She has a very successful blog and a growing business as a result. I follow her to learn.

She does quite often, go off the topic of the workplace and focus on her personal life, her kids, her divorce, her new marriage. The post I read the other day disturbed me for a lot of reasons. But my point  here is not about the specifics of those circumstances. It is the question it raised for me.

In our 24/7 easy global access world where is the line between sharing an authentic voice and true transparency and  information that is better kept private?

As a writer and a blogger, I am well aware that the more honest and transparent my writing the more it resonates with my readers. I can tell in the comments I get and the emails I receive. But I do have a line. That I will not cross.  Just don't ask me to describe it, because it is more a gut feeling, common sense type of thing that I just know.

My question here is not just relegated to bloggers. Take a look at some of status updates people post on Facebook. If the FCC was monitoring they would be fined. Or your Twitter feed. It can be horrifying to see what parts of their lives people choose to make public for everyone and anyone to see anywhere.  And the thing is once posted this stuff never really goes away. It resides somewhere on some giant server, someplace.

Then there is the issue of cell phone use in public venues. I listened in on a conversation while waiting in line at Starbucks yesterday. I was not eavesdropping. The only way I could avoid listening would be to cover my ears. The woman was angry and animated. Apparently because the friend she was talking to and another woman had made what she considered disparaging comments concerning her therapy and her children. This she announced so all of us on line could hear was "private" and not "up for discussion".  This woman had drawn her line but what I found interesting is how crooked it appeared.  While waiting for my morning fix I learned she had one kid, was in therapy, the friend in question was named Jennifer and she was not particularly fond of how Jennifer and her husband were raising their own two children. She was interested in her privacy but not concerned with the dozen or so people waiting for lattes who had been given no choice but to hear these details of her life.

I'm glad I have my line even if I can't describe it to you. I will always strive to write in an authentic and transparent voice but there will always be parts of my life that will stay private. I'll continue to subscribe to Seth Godin's advice that we should live our life on line as though we are on Candid Camera.

Do you have a line you draw?
Where is it?
How public are you willing to make your private life in a world of social networks?


Ed Adams said...

Great perspective on the separation of church and state, oh you were talking about social media, and private vs public cell phone use. Great stuff, so right on the money for today!!!!!!!

Tracy said...

Awesome, awesome topic. I'm equally uncomfortable with people putting their entire life "out there" for general public knowledge. Also, there are certain topics I've seen on blogs that's in the TMI category and I don't care to read about. It seems that the younger generation is much more open and care free about shareing their inforamtion - maybe because they grew up with media that we middle-agers didn't. I have a line, not only on the blog, but in daily life as well. Great topic.