How far will I go?

There’s a lot of controversy right now about what an employer is allowed to ask for during an interview, please see Laments and Lullabies for more specific information.  It made me start thinking about what lengths I currently go to and what lengths I am willing to go to for my privacy.

I have a single email account that is attached to my legal name.  I use that account for job hunting.  I have two other email accounts, which is probably going to be three shortly, and four or more in the future.  Why so many accounts, you might ask?  Well, one is my personal account, one is the job-hunting email, and I have one for this blog.  Currently, there’s a lot of crossover between that email and my personal account.  So I am debating moving my personal account to a new email and transferring my friends to that one to keep the separation a little clearer.  Not that I don’t consider all of you my friends, but there are people that know my personal email that don’t know anything about my medical and mental conditions.  And some of them really don’t need to know.

So I am thinking about making a new personal email that isn’t connected to this blog.  But I haven’t made the decision as of yet.  I do know that there will come a day when I will have more emails because I will need an email for each pseudonym I write under.  So is this too much?  Am I going too far to hide my legal identity?  I don’t think so.  I am not trying to erase my identity or do anything illegal.  All I want is to make sure when you google one of my pseudonyms, you don’t get access to something that has nothing to do with that identity.  For example, I want to be a published author, but I have many different ideas, from YA to erotica.  Now, do you want your teenager googling the name I wrote a YA title under and getting a blurb for m/m erotica?  Neither do I.  Or do I want someone googling my legal name and finding this blog with information about my personal life and medical condition?  Ummm…no.  What if the life insurance I am asking for coverage looks and decides that I am a bad risk, not based on the legal questions I asked legally, but from illegal information they have obtained without my permission?  So I try to keep these things separate.

I am sure that I will have to work harder at it with all the changes that the internet is undergoing at this point.  Privacy is such a big thing when you are online.  The assumption of privacy is incorrect and fairly dangerous.  When I am online, I figure it is a bit like putting the wash out on the line: they can see the dirty laundry, your underwear drawer, and the state of your finances.  Hopefully they can’t see all of that exactly but you get my point.  One of the reasons I can be as open and honest on this blog as I am is because my legal name is in no way associated with it. 

Now, do I think we should be able to put this information out there with our legal names?  Yes.  Do I think that’s reality?  Not in the US.

How far will I go to protect my privacy, though?  Will I lie?  Depends on the situation and the question.  If you will notice throughout this email, I didn’t say real name (I don’t think) at any point.  I did say my legal name.  The pseudonyms I use, I feel, are a part of me.  So they are “real names” for me, just not legal ones.  Will I do soemthing illegal?  Again it depends upon the situation.  If I feel the law is unjust and dangerous, there’s a remote possibility.  For the most part, no.  Will I refuse to give out certain information?  Hell, yes!  I’m not going to start wearing an aluminum foil hat.  I’m not going to change my name three times in three different states so you can’t track me.  I’m not going to eschew anything to do with technology in fear of what might happen.  I am going to try simple remedies to protect myself and my livelihood from Big Brother.  I’m debating clearing FB entirely, even though this blog shows there.  I just don’t do a whole lot on the thing and it’s one more way for people to try and find me.  Although I do currently make it extremely difficult.

Having said all of this, I do realize that, at this time, these sorts of privacy violations are not common.  Will they become common?  I don’t know.  I know that I do more than most people to protect my legal identity.  That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me or them.  It just means we have different experiences.  When I was in college, someone took the information I had put on the college network and was able to find my dorm room.  You can imagine how freaking creepy that was since I never met the guy and only spoke to him once or twice online.  So I have a lot of reason to be cautious.

What about you?  How far are you willing to go to protect yourself?  What will you give up?  And what will you give up to protect the privacy of your children?  One of the school districts (not sure where, but within the US) has asked/required (not clear as I didn’t hear or read the report) their students to shut down their FB pages.  Would you make your teenager follow the stricture?  So you see, there are positive and negative reasons to be looking at someone’s online life to see who they are.

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~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on April 2, 2012.

10 Responses to “How far will I go?”

  1. We live in interesting times. Like what you have succinctly observed, there good and bad points about ‘transparency’. Life has always been about balancing right?

    • Yes, we do. Although my blog is very transparent in it’s honesty, I write it from behind a blind. Granted, my family and friends know who I am and read the blog, but the people who read my blog get to know me in a way, until I let them in further, they remain on the outside of the blind. It’s sort of like writing naked in the middle of a clear room with a mask on.

  2. Well said. I’m not sure what it says about the current state of affairs when we need to fracture our identity in order to protect it, ourselves, our families.
    Does a culture of mistrust breed a culture of pseudonyms?

    • In a way, yes. What’s worse is that it actually enables the criminal element to do more. If you are trying to watch everyone at the same time, you are going to miss the people doing illegal things while trying to watch the people who aren’t doing anything wrong. It also makes it very much harder to determine whether someone is using an alias for privacy or for criminal enterprises.

  3. I’m right there with you on the whole privacy thing. I have multiple emails as well and use each and every one of them for specific reasons. And, when it comes to using my legal name, only 1 (my personal email) uses my full name. As you say, it can be very dangerous if people don’t protect themselves online. I know there is a line that divides, cautious and paranoid, but I’d rather lean more toward the paranoid side and remain safe. The alternative is much worse, in my opinion, as it can lead to unsafe results when our personal information falls into the wrong hands.

    • I agree. I am not the only person I know who keeps separate identities this way. Granted, my aliases are probably farther from my legal name than some, but that’s just the way I work. Being female, I often believe that we should take more care than many women think. When I start dating someone, I always make sure there is someone else that knows where I am going and how to get ahold of me if need be. There are a lot of websites out there to help people stay safe as well, whether it be a date or a repairman who is coming into our living space.

  4. I have been working on getting my information really hard to trace on the internet but some things I haven’t figured out yet. I am more worried about my family than the government though lol. I hope the governemt sees how I feel about the way it is being run.

    • The only way to trace me, really, is to look for my family members. Someone told me today that when we lost contact for a while and this person wanted to find me, she had to look for my mom to find a link to me. I am not saying you cannot find me at all online. You definitely can find me. But you cannot find my facebook, this blog, or other more personal information connected to my legal name. I have one email account attached to my legal name. Granted the accounts are cross-referenced, but I am about to fix that. 🙂

  5. TAOTBM,
    I think it’s wise to have a few email addresses. I have some for different purposes:
    1. For this blog;
    2. A more professional one for work;
    3. For subscribing on some e-newsletters, another one (one that I don’t mind be spammed with)…
    But it requires a great deal of maintenance…
    Le Clown

    • That’s what I have right now, but there is a lot of crossover from the blog and my personal email. I am debating changing the personal email to another address, but there’s a huge problem. Almost everything I do on the web is based on that email address as I have had it…like 10 years?

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