Online Identity

You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly… Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.Mark Zuckerberg

I believe that Mr. Facebook’s views are shared by two groups of people: Those for whom Silicon Valley is “the real world” and those who are completely socially inept. We may each have one identity (though I think not) but in order to properly relate to others we should reveal a different side of that identity to different people at different times.

It is not a sign of integrity to share the same conversations with your boss that you do with your best friend. It is not a sign of integrity to wear a bikini to church. It is not a sign of integrity to tell your grandfather’s best friend exactly what it is you like most about using cycle beads rather than the Marquette Model.

Some of us (hello, Josh) may be happy for Google to know everything about us in order to make our lives a bit easier. But who wants Google to tell one’s mother that one is getting back together with one’s ex? Letting Google or Facebook share one’s entire life with the world isn’t about integrity, it is about social insensitivity.

Since the start of this blog I have struggled to combine my identities. And it has not worked. For a while I worked to keep my Catholicism from overwhelming everything else. I soon got bored. Then I flooded both the design and content with Catholicism, and it was far too much. I realized that I would never start out a conversation with an acquaintance by telling them that I go to mass every day, so why should I greet random blog readers with endless pictures of the Blessed Mother?

So I decided to separate out most of my heavily Catholic content. And I could not be happier. If you’d like to read more of my crazy Catholic posts you can find them at Catholic No Wealth But Life.

Zuckerberg would say that I am showing a lack of integrity. I say that this makes the blogworld feel just a bit more like the real world, and I like it.

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29 thoughts on “Online Identity

  1. Jana Mills

    ‘Yep Those for whom Silicon Valley is “the real world” and those who are completely socially inept’

    I think you can pretty much put those two categories together can’t you?

  2. Kathleen

    You know, I think that the healthiest person is one for whom faith becomes integrated to such an extent that you don’t even have to talk about it, and people still get it.

    Not that there’s anything bad about talking about faith. There are valued things to be said–they just tend to preach to the choir. I think true evangelization happens in not talking about faith overtly at all, and you do that quite well here.

    1. Rae Post author

      Very good point about integration. I guess that the main problem for me is that I love thinking through slightly more academic aspects of religion. I want to talk about MacIntyre and Boff and make jokes about the Rahner brothers or “a certain personal prelature.” And it just has not worked for me to toss that in with the rest of the posts about my life.

  3. Trena

    I don’t talk about my faith much but I do talk about pro-life issues occasionally. I know a lot of my “regular” readers, sad to say, close friends and family are pro-death. So when I write these post I know there is a good chance they don’t read but I have to remind myself, there is a chance they do. And because of that small chance of maybe changing someone’s heart I write those post on my “family” blog.

    I really should write about Catholism more though and find a safe way to intergret it all. One of my regular readers, an old friend from high school, recently wrote me a private email about her desire to convert to Catholism! What a joyous email. Could my blog have directed her in that path? I’m not sure. But there is a chance that it could have so I write what I write. I know my identity is not “one” on my blog because of all the different things I rant about and I know most people only come to my blog to read about Mary Rene or Sweet Pea, but there is a chance that they might get interested in something else I say. And well, like I keep saying, it is a chance that I’m willing to take.

    Something to think about. But love the way you write and am looking forward to following both blogs.

    1. Rae Post author

      That is wonderful about your friend! I am sure that your blog brings many people to consider aspects of the faith and pro-life issues in ways that they otherwise do not. I don’t think that I can fit it all together well at this point, but I admire the way that you do on your blog.

  4. That Married Couple

    Great points here. I’m getting more and more cautious about what I put on facebook in my old age (almost everything is restricted not just to “friends” but to a specific list of people who actually are my close friends). However, I’ve been less and less inhibited about what I’m putting on my blog, so maybe it’s a draw :-P

    Do I need to add your Catholic blog to my reader for it to show up?

    1. Rae Post author

      I think that your reader will treat them as two entirely separate blogs, so I guess it does have to be added separately. Sorry to be a pain, and thanks for following!

  5. Kristy

    Pfft. I have a hard time taking anything that man says seriously. It might be because I’ve gotten so agitated with facebook over the past couple years, but that’s another topic entirely. Not putting all of yourself on facebook and making certain things accessible to only certain people doesn’t mean you show multiple identities or lack integrity. It just means you’re being cautious and practicing discretion.

  6. Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    I am in the opposite direction – I had a personal blog (not the one I have now) and a church blog. Now I use the same content on both of them most of the time.

    Good wishes for your efforts – you always have such good things to say.

    1. Rae Post author

      Converging is good, and I suspect that it will happen for me again at some point in the future. It is amazing to me how we find freedom in different ways at different times, even in blogging!

      And thank you. :-)

  7. Dawn by Design

    I really enjoyed this post. I’ve switched over to having just a fairly impersonal, design blog now but when I was blogging more personally I noticed that I sometimes was uncomfortable with the fact that my blog address was listed on my FB account.

    I keep my FB friends limited almost 100% to people I know or have known in real life. Having them be able to pop over and read my deep blog thoughts on religion or personal matters seemed a bit inappropriate. However, I didn’t mind complete strangers reading those thoughts.

    I think it’s because real friends need time to learn certain things about you but as far as online friends go, I think there is an assumption that if they are hanging around they already ‘know’ that side of you and are choosing to see more of it.

    Thanks for this post. I’m not interested in reading the linked article. Am I missing anything. I’ll read it if you tell me to! LOL.

    1. Rae Post author

      I thought about you while writing this! I know exactly what you mean about real life people vs. complete strangers.

      And you don’t need to read the article, I just linked to it as the source of the quote.

  8. Dymphna

    Although I’m still on Facebook, I’ve been rethinking my use of it recently. It does converge one’s “worlds” in an uncomfortable way. Suddenly co-workers, forum friends and family have access to all sides of my life. I’ve found that I use it now, mainly to keep in contact with my family. I don’t actually post too much on my facebook page anymore, although I do have a link there to all my blogs.

  9. Chad McCullough

    I had a Facebook account for a while but it felt a little strange when people that I haven’t spoken to in 25 years found my account. Were they searching for me or did I just “pop-up” as a recommendation? Either way, it made me feel a little uncomfortable. Plus, Facebook’s very well know privacy issues finally made me close my account. I read an article about Mark Zuckerberg and some of the not-so-nice comments he made about the Facebook users that made him rich. That upset me and definitely helped in my decision to close the account.

    Regarding the blogs and separate subjects, I’m finding it hard to get my blog started. At first, I was going to write about my journey to becoming a Catholic. I didn’t know where to start so I decided to start a blog about my use of the Linux operating system. As much as I love Linux, there are already lots of websites dedicated to that subject. Plus, I would probably just bore someone to death with it. :-) While casually talking with our Priest, Father Stan, I mentioned my idea about a blog dedicated to my journey to becoming Catholic. He thinks it’s a great idea. It might help with my conversion and will help me understand the faith a little more. I may give it a shot.

    1. Rae Post author

      I also think that it is a great idea to blog about your journey to becoming a Catholic. I really hope that you’ll at least give it a try. I found it helpful to just jump into writing posts without trying to come up with a good intro. Just post about whatever, and I for one will be quite happy to read it.

  10. Rebecca

    I had my blog linked to my FB page for about 5 minutes, and realized that I didn’t want everything on my blog out there for everyone on my FB to see. I do have my blog hooked to my twitter account, but I keep track of who is following me on twitter and if for some reason my family all jumped to twitter, I’d probably change that too.

    I very much agree with what Dawn by Design said about people in real life needing to get some information a little as a time as they get to know you, but that online people will stick around if they are interested and leave if they aren’t.

    Adding your new blog to my reader now!

  11. Wendy R Amundson

    Your response to Zuckerberg’s quote was right on. You can be true to yourself while also adjusting your behavior to be respectful of different situations and people.

  12. Heather

    Hi Rae, I’m in a college course right now studying identity and the digital age. I’ve never really come in contact with this topic before in my studies, (I’m an English major) so it’s been really interesting but also a little difficult for me to delve into the issue. I really loved reading your take on how you present yourself online. My main ideas for this topic right now is that people can basically experiment with emphasizing different aspects of their identity online, but this kind of experimentation really leads to a more complete sense of self. I have looked at studies that show that, in blogs and social networking sites, most people really want to stay pretty true to their offline selves.

    On a more personal note, I really appreciate Kathleen’s and your ideas about quietly integrating your faith into your identity. I am a Latter-day Saint, and I want people to know what I believe. That means that I do talk about my beliefs online, but more importantly, it means that I simply act consistently in different spheres with what I believe.

    Thanks so much for this post; it has really helped me! I’ll definitely read in the future. You might be interested in one of my own posts about Zuckerberg and danah boyd:

  13. Kacie

    That’s what I did over a year ago. I sometimes wish it was all integrated because I feel like what I say on my “theology” blog is in some ways most important and I want my larger audience to see it. However, most people just aren’t interested in that sort of heavier content, so separating them has freed me up to write daily things for friends and family and just give people access and a link to the heavier content. I think it’s more reader-friendly, but sometimes it does confuse people. :)

  14. Rae Post author

    I really like your approach. I think that I may also copy you with occasionally directing people from one blog to the other.

  15. Pingback: You Don’t Know Me. Or At Least That’s What I Want To Think

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