Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Internet and Identity (Dishonesty in blogging)

With all the fuss these days about personal information on the internet, it is interesting to reflect on the "internet self" many of us create for friends or strangers to see. It seems all this self-expression thrown out into the voyeuristic world of the web, often serves more to hide one's self than reveal. Here is a piece of my journal from a few months back:

It is odd to realize, now that I have my website for publishing thoughts I don't write nearly as much as I did before. Each thing I write is analyzed as it is written: How would this fit on my web page? I seem to have lost that freedom of writing without the burden of a potential audience.

My site is personal, but it is not private. While I never cared too much about my privacy, I do care what people think of me. I know people who read it. I want them to continue to think well of me. I want people who visit my site to find it impressive. All the thoughts are mine, but they are a tiny fraction of what I have written in my life. I choose things I think might be interesting or thought-provoking for those who would visit the site.

But isn't it also true that I choose things that might make me look more intelligent, honest, moral, and artistic than I actually am? The things I keep out of the internet version of myself is the lazy, hedonistic, petty, contradictory, and selfish. The digital "Jonathan Davis" contained in Google, Blogger, and MySpace is, I fear, quite different from the man my wife knows. It is perhaps a fiction similar to the "good doctor" I created my intern year. I think I am growing closer now to the doctor I had hoped to be now. Will the discussions on my blog improve me in a similar way? As a young doctor I think the concealment was a necessary part of the process. But is there any need for concealment on the web other than my sense of pride?

I remind myself that I created my site for discussion of ideas not revelation of character flaws. Private writing and prayer to God is the proper place for confession of sins. Neither I do enough of now. I also doubt the honesty of what I have written now, considering I am likely to eventually post it on my site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is why fiction writers invent characters to commit their sins. ...BeccaN