Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Fetish #1

I respect Dr. Crazy's last Chronicles post and shift to new space, her discussion of identity, how much to reveal, the threat of revelation with the need to reveal more than usual in academe (and the possible personality/employment problems), the difficulties of balancing concealment and the honesty of controlled revelation.

And then it occurred to me: the only reason I’m in this predicament is because I’ve been terrified of people knowing who I am. (as we all should be) As much as I’ve dealt with my “real” identity being revealed to a few people, I’ve also been really afraid of the consequences of being a “real” person in the blogosphere. And so, I thought, maybe the solution is to come out – to just write under my “real” name, to tell people in my real life that I blog. (It's always about "coming out," isn't it?)

As I thought about it more, however, it seemed to me that to write under that name is no solution, ultimately, because it would limit my writing here in the opposite direction. I would, in a way that I had not been able to with the voice I had created before, be able to talk explicitly about my work. But I would feel like I would have to eliminate things like pictures of my cat and stories about nights out with friends or whatever. Why? Well, because ultimately a single girl who blogs about her cat or friends is judged in a way that, just to give an example, a man who writes about his children is not. And let’s say I go on the market in the coming year, and through the magic of googling this is the picture a search committee gets of me. And because my professional name is on the blog, the blog is seen as a professional document. I will not be evaluated positively. How do I know? Because I would not evaluate positively any candidate like me who had pictures of her cat on her professional website. (Excellent point) With where I am in my career right now, I just feel like to write the kind of blog that I want to write under my professional name and as a professional document would be stupid. I also think there are issues of personal safety that a woman in my position needs to consider. Even if the blog would not be a detriment to me professionally, I’ve got to consider that anyone I begin dating will google me, and given the number of weirdos in the world, it doesn’t make sense to have extensive information about myself easily accessible under my “real life” name.

In the New Normal of the University, I have to wear an ID tag. Usually, I’d rather lose my house than wear a tag letting any- or everybody know my name and possibly use it. I stand in the back if I’m forced into group pictures. My phone number isn’t listed and almost never has been. Until I had a kid, I moved every 1-2 years, a person whose address you wrote in pencil. I have relatives, ones I like, who do not have my phone number or my address or certainty where I live. Only my “professional” email address lists my name—“professor,” an initial and my frighteningly-common last name. I’m the colleague who’ll tell you she’s been in jail or a crack whore or some other mouth-gaping secret yet will walk away without telling you her first or last name or what department. If I had more time (and other things), I’d have multiple Internet identities going at once, cyber-MPD to go with my post-Kat PTSD and ASC-US.

But to explain my secrecy fetish, I’d have to reveal too much.


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