I’m increasingly concerned about my online presence. I was recently interviewed about my first book, and the reporter asked me if I thought that tweeting about shoes or using lots of exclamation marks would make it easier for the press or the scholarly community to write me off. (Interestingly, while there are many women in the academy studying Internet culture, the technology pundits featured on NPR and in The Atlantic are almost always male.) The answer to that is, yes, it probably does. I’d like to think my work speaks for itself, but research shows that women are judged much more harshly for frivolous public peccadillos than men are for, say, tweeting about sports. The obvious solution is having two Twitter accounts, but something about separating my life so neatly (interesting and boring; gendered feminine and gendered masculine; personal and academic) really rankles.
Alice E. Marwick - "In Defense of Getting Personal on Twitter" The Chronicle of Higher Education
I’ve thought about this a lot, particularly in the context of the bifurcation of self. This is what my partner, who is a high school teacher, does. He has a “real” and “clean” social media presence under his name, and a pseudonymous one that he uses for interactions with friends and family.
But I have a bit more flexibility, and I simply don’t want to work with people who have a problem with my personal interests in thinks like whiskey, wine, cats, or fanfiction.
That is not to say that I don’t think that I participate in internet culture with abandon, or don’t occasionally angst about where that line of appropriate is. But I don’t like to self-censor to a degree where what I say is sanitized.
Warwick continues: “On social media, we experience what Internet researchers call “context collapse,” in that all these facets are flattened into one. We are taxed with trying to perform appropriately to distinct audiences who expect different things from us. Often, this creates a “lowest common denominator” effect in which we stick with the staid and boring so as not to offend anyone. This is compounded in an extremely competitive job market in which any excuse is used to weed out candidates.”
I think context collapse can be a good thing; I know that my “real world” interests and dedication to causes has helped me more than it has hurt me. At least so far…
Tumblarians, what do you think?
Librarians, do you experience this dichotomy between your public and private selves when you’re online?