Sunday, December 07, 2008

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead: SL ponders online presense.

(quote from Ben Franklin. Here are some other quotes on secrets.)

I saw my psychiatrists this week. They are both European, and lovely people. Dr. Northern Italian said, "Glad you're back." These are people trained in nuance. Yes, I'm back. And though I will have other dark periods, other "dark nights of the soul," other depressive episodes, for the time being, I'm in my regular skin, and happy to be here.

And that was a huge pause.

Here's the thing. As I think about my online presence, as I think about my life, played out online and off-line, I think about myself, the whole person. But online, I am fractured, sometimes Sarah Louise, sometimes ****. And a huge part of the reason I'm Sarah Louise online is because as a single (read: sometimes dating) woman who is sometimes job hunting, I do not want people to be able to google **** and find me here. One of the gifts I have is transparency in writing. I'm able to get pretty vulnerable and personal. One of the broken parts of me is called "bipolar disorder."

There's a t-shirt out there that says "I'm not reading your blog." And I know, a lot of people aren't. My mother isn't, generally, though she does have this address. My father isn't, generally, ditto. My sister sometimes drops by. My cousin also has a blog (Hi, Kiki!) and we feed off each other, in a good way. This blog is posted, as Sarah Louise, to my church's website.

I'm realizing, as I spend more time online, that the real stuff is what happens when my computer is off. When I'm sitting in a room, listening to Michael Stephens exhort me to bring my heart to work. When I'm having lunch at Mad Mex last Thursday with my separated at birth friend, Carrie. When Danielle is making dinner in her kitchen and I'm keeping her company until the food is ready.

What are reasons people stay anonymous online? They don't want their husband, boyfriend, children, mother to read what they've written. They don't want their students to know about their private life. They've been taking pills all their life and they just found out why. World AIDS day was just a few days ago, and darn if I can find the article I read (I think in the Washington Post) about kids with HIV. The secrecy they have to keep up is amazing.

Last night I watched the Friends episode where Chandler tells the adopted kid he's adopted. "What if someone else told the triplets they came out of you?" he says to Phoebe as the triplets go silent. "I'm going to go tell Emma she was a mistake," he says as he walks out of Central Perk.

Does everything have to be out there, to be searched and tagged and recorded? (One of my mantras is you can't capture everything. Do I want to experience the moment, or take a picture of it and miss the experience?) (And I say this as a person who searches, tags, records, and really wishes she had tagged that article about children with HIV living in DC.)

I don't plan to have children. But if I did, would I blog about them? Would I use their names, or give them pseudonyms, like I give most of the people I write about when I mention friends on this blog? I don't even like seeing children's names on people's cars, saying that Ashley goes to Miss Twinkle Toes Dance School. I cringe. I read while in library school. I read The Face on the Milk Carton and the other Janie books.

But I think about my future as a writer. This blog is my sandbox, as it were. I ramble on, I sometimes write five drafts, I sometimes hit publish after one take. I write about everything and nothing. But what happens when my first book hits the bookstands? Won't I want the readers here to celebrate with me? And if I do, that's a lot of people keeping a secret. And one, right here, who isn't sure she wants to keep that secret.

Do we take a page from Jane Pitt (PittGirl) who decided to stop blogging and pulled her entire blog, there aren't even archives. The day after she pulled it down, I was able to read some posts via cached Google pages. (I had not been a regular reader. I think I found her blog three years ago and didn't go back, just because it didn't speak to me at that moment in time.)

I'm not ready to link all my blogs together (I write five, if we count the three as SL and two others.) I'm not opposed to people putting the puzzle pieces together. Being bipolar, or single, or in the pursuit of a job are things that real people put their real face on a profile picture and blog about. On the other hand, I have friends whose Facebook profile is based on their anonymous blog name.

And just this week, one of my Twitter friends, who is a published author, locked her tweets, like a day after she started following me.

Whenever I watch SATC, I think about Carrie, and her columns. How do you write about relationships and still walk all over New York City? (Candace Bushnell's book is out as an audio on CD now, I think I might give it a listen.)

I come back to a passage from "Revelations of a Single Woman" by Connally Gilliam, in which she writes an email response to a guy who doesn't get why she's pulled away a little bit.

It's a much longer passage than I want to type now, and no, I do not want to come back to this later today. So here's the metaphor she uses: a woman's heart is like a garden. There are public places for the kind random person. Then there is the center, saved for intimates. Then there is the in-between area, which is more fluid. (If you want to read it, it's on pages 28 & 29. I wish I could send a copy of this book to every single friend I have.)

Okay, I think I've written enough on this for a while. What are your thoughts? Do you tell people that you blog? Do you use a pseudonym? I promise I won't "out" you. And never, never apologize for writing comment novels. I like them. I do. But a simple "I'm here, I read this," works too.

There's some snow I gotta go walk in. And yes, I'll try to make my low batteries work. Because some things should be recorded.

"Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself/(I am large, I contain multitudes)" (Walt Whitman)

TTYL, Sarah Louise


Badger said...

I struggle with the blogging anonymously thing on a daily basis, particularly since two of my blogs have received press. I'm not ready to put my real name on any of my blogs YET, but I am operating now under the certainty that some day I WILL, and I am editing myself accordingly. There are some things I will NEVER put on the internet, knowing that once they're out there, you can never truly take them back 100%. My main blog is the one where I vent my id, but I try to do that now with an eye toward coming out of the blog closet eventually (and I have removed some old posts, fat lot of good THAT does).

I not only have to worry about my family and people I know IRL finding it, but I have to be VERY careful in considering what I've written about my kids, knowing all of their friends (and enemies, sigh) can find it as well and use it as some sort of ammunition against them. Argh. Really, if it weren't for my kids, I think I would have come out of the blog closet LONG ago.


It probably won't surprise you to learn that I 100% agree with you about those stickers on people's cars. OMG. Do you really want every single person in traffic behind you to know that little Aaron is #3 on the Jaguars team in the T&C Soccer League? Or that Madeline plays clarinet in the Central High School band? I don't know what gets into people's heads.

There, I wrote a novel in your comments and I'm NOT sorry! Hee!

KitchenKiki said...

I started anonymously because I wanted to have a "happy place" where things are fun & flippant. I did not want to discuss the "Terrible Thing" that happened in my life shortly before I began blogging. I thought I might talk about some of the damage at some point, but decided the blog was not the place. I have begun to think that I should end my anonymity, if only to get a different result if some one Googles my name. I haven't written anything that would prevent me from being hired somewhere (unless there is a diabolical prejudice of Girl Scout Cookie addicts). Having my blog be a top result from Google is far better than what is currently out there.

wilsonian said...

I used to blog anonymously, but came to peace with being outed fairly quickly. I'm a pretty open book anyway, and don't write things I wouldn't tell you in a conversation. That said, I don't tell most people that I blog, simply because most people I know aren't into it, and I'm not up for explaining it :)

Sarah Louise said...

@badger: Thank you from the bottom of my blogging heart. I heart your comment novel. So glad I'm not the only one that thinks that about the car stickers.

@Kiki: Thanks. Your perspective is kind of the opposite of mine. I'm so not ready to have my blog at the top of Googles for my real name.

We'll work on it, shall we? Thanks for your comments, both yas! You are queens of commenting in my book, and queens of blogging, to say it shorter: You rock!

Hope said...

I tell people I blog but I am very picky as to who I give my blog address to. I, too have wondered about possibly publishing a book in the future and having an anonymous blog. For the most part I am okay with who has my blog address but from time to time I wish I'd never given it to some family members. And there are other family members who will never get it, over my dead body.
Sometimes I wonder if my anonymity on my blog means I'm not authentic in my face to face life.