Open Book Exam

The credit score is not a number but the emoticon for “disturbed”: ಠ_ಠ

His employment history is hysterical. His relationship history includes not one but two John Cusack-outside-in-the-rain-looking-up-at-a-window-as-the-light-is-turned-off moments. (Did that moment ever really appear in a movie?)

He’s no psychiatrist and he does not play one on TV, but there probably have been a half-dozen moments in which “something needed to be done” but wasn’t.

Yet he is fond of saying that he is “not the best thing I ever did nor the worst.” That he is an “open book.”

I’m an open book … when I choose to be. There are photos of me on here and even recordings of my non-mellifluous voice. And this is fine—for me, and only for me; whenever an anecdote includes someone other than me, I do not name or describe the other party. There are friends and former friends who have appeared in this web site and they have neither complimented it or me nor asked to be removed, because I keep things as anonymous as I can or I request their permission to include them. I have quoted people who do not seem to have noticed. It took me over a year to start to write “my girlfriend,” even though she inspires much of this project right here. (She bought the domain name as a Valentine’s Day gift; she is why you do not see “wordpress” as part of the URL.)

But this is me. I do not have an employer right now and I have named only one or two former employers in here, and then only by corporate name, not the individual managers and co-workers with whom I worked. Also, I am not looking for a job.

Family? Usually only those who have passed or the three closest to me.

I do not think that there is a perfect formula for me, so I certainly do not think that there is a perfect formula for anyone else, as far as personal privacy or disclosure is involved. If and when I ever have children, their names and photos will not be included in my online life, because they can not grant knowing permission. But that is me. If someone wants to publish photos of their offspring, go for it.

Almost all of social life is a performance. This is true in CubicleLand (copyright: me) and at the proverbial water cooler and in high school and at the church social and it is true online. The many social media outlets have changed nothing, except we type our anecdotes and eagerly await thumbs-ups, and we crop our photos instead of hold our thumb over the person or thing we want to hide from our water cooler audience.

If there is an identity thief who wants my past, have at it, hoss! You could do no worse than I did, and you might improve my credit score.

I had a friend who once discovered that a photo she published on Facebook was being used by someone she had met once as their own FB portrait. That is one of the creepiest things ever. Online stalking is real, and can be as disturbing and dangerous as in-person stalking. (Oh! and here’s the thing about that story: You do not know yourself if it is true or not. It is merely an anecdote from me, someone you have not met. I saw it unfold for myself, so I know, but I understand a person not believing it.)

The only difference between CubicleLand and online life is this, and it is a huge this: When a person hits “send” or “publish,” the item that was sent is not erasable, acquires a virtual paper trail, becomes searchable and thus “findable,” and is no longer yours. Even if it remains 99.9999% yours, it is no longer yours.

One can declare a personal copyright on each online utterance (I do) and it is still not entirely yours. If you use any of the many many social media outlets, you signed up for this by clicking the “Terms and Conditions” box, most likely without reading either. Some companies, aware of this, have put joke items in the terms and conditions in order to gently make that point.

A filmmaker named Cullen Hoback released a film called “Terms and Conditions May Apply” in 2013. It is usually on Netflix … lemme check, yes, it is still available … and I recommend it. I have no financial stake or interest in it. (Can you imagine a world in which we were obliged to state our personal and/or financial interests or disclose our non-interests in each utterance? Contract law is where complexity starts to get complicated.)

I try to be aware of what I am doing, and the Golden Rule (Matthew 22:39) is pretty important.

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The WordPress Daily Prompt for May 30 asks, “How do you manage your online privacy? Are there certain things you won’t post in certain places? Information you’ll never share online? Or do you assume information about you is accessible anyway?”

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5 comments

  1. loisajay · May 30, 2015

    Social media is the proverbial bitch. But don’t quote me on that, Mark. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Aldrich · May 31, 2015

      Facebook: Everyone brings a selfie stick to work. And cats. Twitter: Everyone talks about politics in a church … or about faith in a strip club … or about corporate crime at a ballgame … or about other peoples’ lives with their therapist. And cats. Instagram: Cats.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. rogershipp · May 31, 2015

    I’m an open book … when I choose to be….. Wish I would have said that…. Nicely written!

    Liked by 1 person

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