16 December 2010

Web 2.0 and you

A couple of blog entries have been bouncing around in me this week, but I have been busy working both on work and my studies and caring for my seemingly endless list of thankless tasks at home. I have discovered, however, that by waking up at 5, one can get an extra hour of work done and this only requires not going back to bed like you did at 12, 2, and 3:30 to clean up a pee'd bed, feed someone, and/or migrate to a different bed as whichever bed you started in is now filled with people who don't want you in it.

But. No complaining. Things press on.

I have been in a couple of discussions in the last three weeks or so about (re)presentation of self on the Internet in particular. Making the issue more prescient, I have noticed via Google analytics that my site has been visited (sometimes at length) by potential employers. Now, in general, I think I am pretty comfortable with how I portray myself on the Internet these days. Although my archive of entries probably includes embarrassing material, I am more-or-less okay with that. As I said to my famed older brother, if someone spends forty minutes reading my blog and doesn't like me and/or want to hire me at the end of the day, that's probably for the best: this really is who I am, or rather, who I want to present myself to be.

Who I am is, of course, shifting and contextual. In one of the discussions I was in, I made the distinction between people I swear in front of and people I don't, but that is really a poor way of describing it. It's more complicated. I can cast it any number of ways, an infinite number of things I do and don't do depending on whom I am talking with.

When I was a religious child/teenager, there was a lot of pressure on me (and everyone in our group) to behave in the same way everywhere: church, school, whatever. You needed to present yourself in a good, Christian way so that people would mark (or, as my PhD research is showing, categorise) you as a Christian, and therefore different, and therefore inherently better than the people around you. The goal was then to have people ask you why you were so different and good (why you didn't swear or cheat on a test or drink at parties), and you could then tell them, It's because Jesus is my personal Lord and Saviour: are you interested in knowing more?

This is pretty shoddy logic, and the Mormons, it turns out, are much better at this sort of bait and switch evangelism than the Evangelicals.

With a career where I am a researcher, teacher, and student; relationship with a spouse where I was a friend and then boyfriend, but became a husband; relationship with my immediate family where I am a son and brother and now uncle; and children where I am a father... this 'who I am' question seems ridiculous, particularly in terms of a religious affiliation. I want to go back to 15, 17, or 19 year-old me sitting, listening obediently to whatever pastor was pumping me full of institutional nonsense and tell me:

Perhaps that is how I see this blog. Institutions are controlling me all the time, censoring me through the sense of right and wrong they have instilled in me. I am pretty ambivalent about this because I know I can never really escape anyway. I want to, when I can, document my life in a way that I find interesting. And hopefully in a way that you, dear reader, also find interesting. When those two things are aligned, I think I am most happy. Perhaps I can push the boundaries sometimes, cuss a bit here and there, but with the understanding that even these small expressions of disobedience are inconsequential and probably part of remaining obedient, as I have the satisfaction of feeling rebellious when I am, in fact, not rebelling against anything at all.