December 18, 2011

Thoughts and Decisions about my Online Self

Recently I've made some decisions about my online self, mostly around levels of privacy. It's not that I've had any trouble, thank God, but that I want to clear some distraction and also better appreciate folks with whom I'm connected.

So here's my sense of it:

The blog. I've been blogging here at a minor friar for almost six years. It's become part of the fabric of my daily life, ongoing reflection, and even my prayer. It serves a lot of purposes for me, and on the balance it seems like a salutary project, so I keep going. Of course it's eminently public. There are a few hundred visitors each day. Anyone may leave comments, and I do my best to publish all of them. I only reject out of hand comments that are spammy, overly rude, or vulgar. I'm very grateful for all of the friends I have made through blogging, and for the chance to link to other fine and interesting blogs.

Twitter. The first time I was on Twitter I quit with some drama, having decided it was a distraction. I came back when some circumstances changed in my life and I thought micro-blogging might be fun and worthwhile again. I appreciate Twitter for a lot of reasons, and I use it for an array of purposes, from preaching and devout encouragement all the way to outright silliness. My tweets are set to public. Anyone may follow. Whether or not I follow you back is somewhat arbitrary, so don't take it personally either way. Just because I don't follow you back doesn't mean I don't approve of or like your tweets, and just because I do doesn't necessarily mean I agree with you.

Facebook. I guess by now I would be considered an early adopter. For years I have accepted almost every friend request I received. Lately, however, I began to ask myself why I should bother staying on Facebook. But then I decided that I did appreciate it for certain things, and I edited my list of friends toward this purpose. I don't want to use Facebook for Christian encouragement or to play games. I don't really see it for me as a tool for evangelization, like I sometimes see Twitter and the blog. I basically like Facebook as I way to keep connected and stay grateful for folks I have known in person along the way. You see, I'm really a very shy person, and not likely to stay in touch with people from childhood, college, jobs, earlier assignments, etc., by way of calling or visiting. Facebook lets me stay in touch and keep grateful for all those folks. When I 'unfriended' all the people I didn't really know, I was surprised that so many friends were left. So that's it. Facebook is now a sort of more private place for me, limited to interacting with people I actually know in 'real life' or with whom I have had a significant internet relationship across various social networks.

Google +. I'm not quite sure what to make of Google + yet, though I like it. This doesn't bother me, because I don't think Google + yet knows what to make of itself. It looks like Facebook, more or less, but the way users connect is something closer to Twitter. For now I'm treating it a something in between. That is to say I may share posts with 'extended circles' but I myself will probably only encircle those that I know in person or with whom I have a previous internet relationship.

foursquare. In some ways foursquare is going to be the most private social network of all for me, for obvious reasons.

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