If you follow my blog in Google reader you’ll notice that this post was written “by alex.” That’s because when I established this account, all that time ago, I still believed in maintaining some kind of anonymity on the internet.
I remember the day I went into account settings and clicked the little box that said “display full name.” That seemed like a big deal at the time. So why did I do it? I realised I wanted this blog to be associated with me. I wanted it to come up when someone typed me into Google. I was (and am) proud to put my name to it.
But that doesn’t explain everything I do online. When I created a Tumblr is seemed like a good idea to make alexandraneillextraordinaire my username. That’s my full name right there. Attached to something rather ridiculous and connected by nothing more than one click to the most insane online thing for which I’m responsible.
Recently someone told me that my Facebook profile didn’t have much information on it. I almost laughed at him. Yes it is true that you couldn’t learn a great deal from stalking my info page but everything you could ever want to know about me (and a lot of stuff you really don’t need to know) is available on the internet for all to see. All you have to do is a bit of digging.
How do I feel about this situation? I don’t really know. It means that there are people out there in the world who know all sorts of things about me but I’m not even aware that they exist.
There are some advantages. As a writer I now have a profile. If I was to release a book tomorrow there are people who would buy it or, at the very least, be interested. And not my immediate family and friends either. Random people. Out there in the world. That isn’t something that I could have achieved offline.
I genuinely think the way we use the internet is changing. Right now admitting to having met people online is akin to admitting you have some kind of weird fetish (as far as people’s reactions go). I think, in twenty years, that won’t be the case at all. I don’t think it’ll be the case in five years. Geography and friendship aren’t friends in real life. At least with the internet they’re on speaking terms.
There’s also the minor fact that I’m an over-sharer in real life. I’m constantly telling stories. I did a quiz the other day in which one of the questions was “How much do people know about you?” to which I had to answer “Everything. My life is an open book.”
Its different though isn’t it? Realising you’ve told someone this story before is quite different to the having a conversation interjected with-
“I know. I read your blog.”
It has occurred to me that perhaps I’ve become too blasé about all this and maybe there’s someone walking around in one of the more obscure states of America with my identity. I’ve only got one thing to say to that person-
Good luck to you.