This week’s readings and homework helped me articulate some stuff:
I struggle with the tension between cultivating a professional online persona and being an introvert.
I also struggle with the contradictions between having a rich and full online friendship network but an online professional presence more characterized by, well, lurking.
On the other hand, where even is the distinction between professional and personal online life today? The terms from reading & video — decompartmentalization, context collapse – really resonated with me.
Following Fuji’s example, I did a very quick icognito google search on “rebecca ruhlen.” It produced links about my teaching, breastfeeding advocacy, social media accounts, publications, and lectures, along with some family-related links. Another Rebecca Ruhlen’s LinkedIn is listed, which could be a problem — I’ve never gotten around to creating a LinkedIn account for some reason.
To whom do I talk when I write online? …mostly friends on Facebook, although that term “friend” needs unpacking most days. I write best for interlocutors, which is to say that I typically write to respond to someone, not to begin a conversation, even if it looks like the latter. I do a lot of writing in response to something I’ve read, but aimed at my imagined community of friends (which in this case means that group of people whom I know are likely to want to know what I’m reading and thinking.) Writing — especially of the self-presentation kind — online for strangers, who may not already be inclined to look upon me in a friendly way has a chilling effect on me. I keep my thoughts more shuttered then. The feminist & feminine slant to most of my online work, in the broader context of routine misogynist harassment and threats, adds to my hesitation.
I was surprised and amused to read in Bonnie’s blog entry that people in 2012 got up in arms about live-tweeting academic conferences. The preponderance of my existing tweets probably consist of just that. I don’t read my Twitter feed often, and I tweet even less often. I find the former too confusing and overwhelming — I probably need to curate my follows a lot more mindfully, and stop worrying so much about tracing the precise contours of conversations on that platform. I tweet rarely for probably the opposite reason — far fewer followers than I have on Facebook, and far less sense of my audience since my tweets are public.
I also have an Instagram account, to which I rarely post (except for my recent #pinkhats4cocoabeans campaign) but which I maintain mostly to keep tabs on my teenaged son’s account. (One more layer in the work-life morass of online personae?)
I have a personal/professional website but have never developed it and am very embarrassed that it shows up in google searches on my name. I need to fix that. I also have a new website for my lactation consultant private practice, but it’s meant to be a static info & publicity resource – I’m not blogging there (or anywhere.) I didn’t include either website on my VandR map.
While we’re sharing embarrassing confessions, I miss the early-21st-century days of message boards. That was the format of my first “resident-style” online personae, albeit largely anonymous ones, and I remember relishing a frequent sense of discovery of new ideas and perspectives, while also developing really important online friendships and a sense of community around shared interests.