Disclosure and distance

Kate Trgovac has a thoughtful post about Social(Media) Mores — wondering about what norms or customs to apply to social media.  “Our deepest voyeuristic impluses are honed the more folks we follow on Twitter,” she writes, “yes we often forget that there are those who spy on us.”

From left: Grover, ClevelandKate had a business contact say recently, “I know you from your blog… are you really like that, or is it just a persona?”  That reminded me of the Susan Wu article I wrote about here a year and a half ago.

We’ve all got personas online.  They’re the impression we project (and also the one we leave, a different thing) in each online venue: email, discussions, blogs, whatever.

The idea of closeness or distance online brought to mind the Sesame Street sketches with Grover demonstrating near and far.

Kate’s an open, engaging person, but doesn’t blog about clients without checking with them first.  To blog or twitter about pitch meetings or things like “I recommended a developer to client XYZ” strikes her as disrespectful to those clients.  And too self-promoting.

Speaking of social media aficionados like herself, she says, “We’ve come to terms with the lack of privacy online and we think that others should, too.”  Or, as she goes on, we don’t realize that our musings impact others.

I tend to be more private than not (which could seem laughable, given the length of some of my posts).  I also think that some things, once lost, can’t be retrieved, and privacy is one of them.  “The wisdom of crowds” is a fine thing, but I don’t know what turns a crowd into a mob.

I tend to think of my own networks as finite — I read certain blogs, I connect to certain people via Facebook or LinkedIn, I’m a lackadaisical participant on Twitter.  In reality, though, each of those presences can extend to areas and people I never expected or intended to reach.

This is another issue with no right answer.  I do think mindfulness is important, so you’re able to consciously find a balance point between obliviousness and paranoia.

Photo by Rakka. From left: Grover, Cleveland.