I’m definitely part of the new digital era of media. I tweet, I tumble, I like, I post, I stumble, I blog, I share, and I promote. I’ve mastered the art of scheduling and I somehow manage to keep less than 20 emails in my Gmail inbox at all times. I have a full-calendar on and offline and for now, with at least some sanity, I keep it all rolling and going, and produce blogs that I feel are at least somewhat intriguing.
And as topics usually do on the social media wave of information overload, a study recently circulated that speculated those who are active on Twitter have shorter relationships. The study surveyed OkCupid users (a site I used to be a part of and some of my friends currently use), and claimed other findings, like Twitter-fanatics are more inclined to masturbate than those who don’t tweet. (Hmm?)
I’m not sure if I buy into these claims for studies are just that, a study of a concentrated group (those who online date, in this case), not every person on Twitter or every person who masturbates – which if you combined the two, just may be the vast majority of the population. But I will say the Internet has changed the bounds of a relationship and created what I’d like to call the peril of being public.
With so many easy ways to share information with those you know and don’t know – how do you resist the temptation to spew? Some things become sacred once you transition from dating to being exclusive and certain topics are no longer up for discussion with your friends, as you owe some sort of secrecy to your partner. Without keeping things private, a true intimacy can never develop.
But what if you’re say, a dating blogger? Someone who writes about love and relationships on a consistent, daily basis? What if your relationships, the love you find or lose, and the sex you enjoy and the sex you know could have been better – is what brings in the most readers? How do hold back when holding back would ruin the honey-like honesty of a blog you’ve worked so hard to develop and drive traffic to?
Well, just as smooth as the honey pours, its stickiness sticks.
I’m admittedly a little stuck in the peril of public myself, and though I’d never let someone else censor me – a true journalist doesn’t – I do know censoring myself is a battle I’ll have to fight. There are some things, some experiences, some identifying characteristics, and some truths about my life that don’t belong in the tangled World Wide Web. Because even if I delete this blog tomorrow – somehow, in some techie-savvy way, someone would be able to bring it back to life, and all of those words will be found and read again.
So what’s the happy balance? How do I decide what to reveal and what not to give? How do I consider my own integrity and the importance of protecting and respecting someone else’s honor, who unlike me, may not feel comfortable displaying their persona life to all who can subscribe, click a link on Twitter, or see my Facebook page?
It isn’t easy. I suppose I never expected my life to transition as it has or to be in a situation where ex-boyfriends or current possibilities would find themselves asked questions about a blog they don’t write. Or maybe, don’t even read. While I’m under no obligation to do or not do anything, I can understand their desire not to be caught up in something that while it somewhat involves them, is primarily about me.
But the peril of public isn’t just in this blog or on my social media accounts – it’s the fluidity and the ease of sharing information. Before such networks existed, I’d have to call up my friends, on a regular phone with a long, curly white cord, and talk to them. I couldn’t send a quick BBM, an email, a Facebook message, a private Tweet, a Gchat, or a text message to ask for advice. There are dozens of ways to reach most everyone we know, several ways to discover information about anyone we don’t, and continuous, reliable access to most anything we want to see, know, read, or do. And while I’m a supporter of these advancements, in a lot of ways, we’ve stopped making the relationship private. Not just online – but off, too.
Maybe my friends don’t need to know every little detail of my dating experience and I’m sure some of them could really care less, apart from the fact that most of my stories are quite entertaining. Maybe I don’t need to ask what I should do in each and every situation and realize that like I make decisions about every other aspect in my life, I am wise enough to lead my relationships in the way I decide, without clarification or recommendations from my friends. Maybe I do have many means of communication with people I know personally and many I’ve never met – but it doesn’t mean I have to use them. It doesn’t mean I have to teeter on a dangerous road between revealing too much and revealing too little.
What it means is that I can accept that my obligations are not to anyone but myself. And as easily as I can tweet, post, and blog – I can remain silent. I can log off. I can put my phone on vibrate. I can stop connecting online and start connecting in bed. I can get out of the web of the Internet and be wrapped in the warmth of someone’s arms.
And I can stop interjecting the world into my relationships and let my relationships relate to just me and a special he…privately.