Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Openness & social media

I'm feeling overwhelmed at work today, and I keep wanting to turn to someone or something, and I am distinctly aware that social media is not there for me. I have various outlets online, with various degrees of anonymity and openness, and I have worked to create an identity, and yet, when I need support, I don't feel comfortable going into my public forums (whether they be "friends only," anonymous, or public and tied to my full name). My partner's dad stalks my Facebook; anyone anywhere could Google my name and find my blog and Twitter; my Tumblr is anonymous but not personal. 

My impulse to want to turn to these outlets makes me wonder if there's something to cultivating identity via online representations. I blogged earlier about an iTunesU course that freaked me out with this copy: "Personal branding sets the stage for being able to get in touch with one's identity." The idea infuriates and terrifies me, but the fact that I'm feeling drawn to broadcast my feelings may mean there's more truth to it than I'd like to admit.

I read or heard a concept so long ago, and I have thought of it again and again since then (without knowing or being able to find the original source, which is infuriating). It was the idea of bearing witness. It had something to do with the notion that we couple up and form intimate relationships because we need someone to bear witness to our lives. It validates the struggle if someone else sees it. If one wasn't worried about professional or personal reactions or repercussions to being totally open in an online space, could social media play that role? (If anyone can point me to something that references this idea of bearing witness, I'd love it, as it's haunted me for so long as something I remember and something that resonates with me, but something that I can't dig into further and don't entirely understand.)

A lot to think about the act of writing vs. publishing. Who as a child (or an adult) didn't imagine someone finding their diary or journals years later? It's so easy to diss and dismiss blogs when you grow up around mommy blogs and ten thousand book blogs and blogs and books on getting rich by blogging. But maybe there's more to it than I want to admit.

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