The traps of multiple online personas

spring flowers in the cityApparently, it is a new trend in the blogging world to have fewer comments, because people who used to comment on blogs are now busy managing their own online presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I have been commenting much less for a while too. One of my reasons is that I don’t know anymore how to control what becomes known about me on the Internet.

All the social media websites, like Google+, Facebook and Twitter these days try to connect with each other creating a wide web of personal information that floats freely on the Internet many times without our own knowledge and very little of our control. You can stay away from it and not sign up for online socializing, but then if you are someone like me, someone who’s trying to promote their products or services online, it is almost impossible to avoid social media. You will remain invisible if you try. For example,  I use my Gmail account for most of my personal communications and I have been trying to use my hosted website email address (at loritironpandit dot com) for my professional communication and most of my online presence (I do not do much of personal communication online–my personal Facebook page is rarely opened). For commenting on blogs, for example, out of all the choices I am often given to sign in and “comment as” I used to always choose Name/website url, not the Google profile, not the WordPress.com page, etc. But I have recently noticed that my comments don’t make it on the pages where they belong because they are sorted as spam and the blog administrators don’t get to see my comments and approve them. I am suspecting this is happening because of my personal e-mail address.

spring flowers in the city 2One problem I have in signing in with these social media usernames is that they all request both first name and last name. I find that irritating. I do not want someone to search Google for my first and last name, and stumble upon a clutter of unrelated comments I have left here and there online. I want them to find my professional website and related work. Also, I do not want people interested in my work to come upon lists of my personal friends or photos of personal nature that I basically intended only for friends and family. I could of course create a completely fictitious profile on Google for example, but that does not look professional, does it?

I don’t even know who I am anymore. Does this happen to you? If you have found a way to deal with this, please let me know.

In very much related news, I don’t know if you noticed another small change over here: I created the most adorable social media buttons for my website (see, there in the sidebar?). I am also trying to be more active on Twitter and Facebook, because I guess I feel I have to, if I want anyone to ever know that I write some books and yes, I would like one or two people to read them, if  it’s not too much of a bother, pretty please and forever grateful.

Completely unrelated to the topic of this post are the images of beautiful spring flowers that illustrate it. I hope you don’t mind them too much. We have been going out to the city whenever the weather has been good during this so-called spring, so not that often, but it happened, and it was very pleasant when it did. It’s been raining for a few days now and the cold has been really upsetting, I mean, come on, spring, over here! (Unconvincingly flailing tired arms in the air.) Looking at these flowers makes me feel better, though. Hope they do something for you too.

12 thoughts on “The traps of multiple online personas

  1. Separating personal and professional identities is a real challenge lately. We’re supposed to have everything out there for everyone with an internet connection to see. They (Google especially) couch it as ease of use for us, but really, I think it’s because the drive in the industry is for more and more and more information (which they mine for profit), not for privacy.

    And it does seem sometimes like we’re being punished for not playing the game the way they want it played. For example, that little “Google+” followed by your picture after your posts doesn’t seem to appear for me, and I think it’s because I’ve connected a Google+ page rather than a personal profile, which I don’t have because I don’t want a Google search for my name to turn up all kinds of personal stuff about me (as you mention, pictures of my kids, etc). At least Facebook gives the illusion that you get to keep some stuff private (until they change their privacy policy and all of the default settings again). There’s no option like that with Google+.

    Google is also a lot stricter about names than Facebook is, to the point that even though their stated name guidelines say you can have an initial for either your first or last name (but not both), Google+ won’t actually let me use an initial for my last name. The nice thing about Google+, though, is that hardly anyone uses it so I don’t really feel like I’m missing out by not having it connected as well as it might be.

    1. I know. I feel like I’m being singled out for not playing the game by their rules. For me, the solution right now, is to use these places for personal purposes as little as possible. I don’t know how to deal with it in any other way. And yes, I have set up the privacy options as I want them, but you’re right, they may change features any time and turn all my settings inside out, I’m not at all confident that privacy settings work as they should and I don’t want to count only on that. But yeah, not many people use Google+. That is comforting to know. Still, it’s out there and Google does everything to make it visible, so not many people can avoid it either. It’s a mess. And of course they are using our personal information for profit in one way or another. Isn’t that the ultimate purpose of everything?

  2. Separating personal and professional identities is a real challenge lately. We’re supposed to have everything out there for everyone with an internet connection to see. They (Google especially) couch it as ease of use for us, but really, I think it’s because the drive in the industry is for more and more and more information (which they mine for profit), not for privacy.

    And it does seem sometimes like we’re being punished for not playing the game the way they want it played. For example, that little “Google+” followed by your picture after your posts doesn’t seem to appear for me, and I think it’s because I’ve connected a Google+ page rather than a personal profile, which I don’t have because I don’t want a Google search for my name to turn up all kinds of personal stuff about me (as you mention, pictures of my kids, etc). At least Facebook gives the illusion that you get to keep some stuff private (until they change their privacy policy and all of the default settings again). There’s no option like that with Google+.

    Google is also a lot stricter about names than Facebook is, to the point that even though their stated name guidelines say you can have an initial for either your first or last name (but not both), Google+ won’t actually let me use an initial for my last name. The nice thing about Google+, though, is that hardly anyone uses it so I don’t really feel like I’m missing out by not having it connected as well as it might be.

    1. I know. I feel like I’m being singled out for not playing the game by their rules. For me, the solution right now, is to use these places for personal purposes as little as possible. I don’t know how to deal with it in any other way. And yes, I have set up the privacy options as I want them, but you’re right, they may change features any time and turn all my settings inside out, I’m not at all confident that privacy settings work as they should and I don’t want to count only on that. But yeah, not many people use Google+. That is comforting to know. Still, it’s out there and Google does everything to make it visible, so not many people can avoid it either. It’s a mess. And of course they are using our personal information for profit in one way or another. Isn’t that the ultimate purpose of everything?

  3. I started out with such clear boundaries for myself online, and now I find I have more online identities than I need for a small circus troop, and not all of them created by me. Hey ho! I think this is why writers like to have nom de plumes. Separate the two (or three, or four, or five…) identities and keep one private and one public (and juggle the others until they get dizzy and fall down quietly for some time)!

    1. Oh, this is such a brilliant comment! It’s better written and more telling than my whole post.Also, you are so right about the pseudonym. That would solve all these problems, wouldn’t it? My nom de plume is a variation of my “legal” name, but it’s the name I use in most situations, and practically everywhere online. I am actually considering changing my legal name too. I don’t know why it’s suddenly become important. It always was, I guess, but now I feel an acute need to embrace my “true” name.

  4. I started out with such clear boundaries for myself online, and now I find I have more online identities than I need for a small circus troop, and not all of them created by me. Hey ho! I think this is why writers like to have nom de plumes. Separate the two (or three, or four, or five…) identities and keep one private and one public (and juggle the others until they get dizzy and fall down quietly for some time)!

    1. Oh, this is such a brilliant comment! It’s better written and more telling than my whole post.Also, you are so right about the pseudonym. That would solve all these problems, wouldn’t it? My nom de plume is a variation of my “legal” name, but it’s the name I use in most situations, and practically everywhere online. I am actually considering changing my legal name too. I don’t know why it’s suddenly become important. It always was, I guess, but now I feel an acute need to embrace my “true” name.

  5. “embrace my true name” – intrigue! Ooh, I wonder what your true name could be?!….I’d better stop, else who knows what will happen if I create a name for you 🙂

  6. “embrace my true name” – intrigue! Ooh, I wonder what your true name could be?!….I’d better stop, else who knows what will happen if I create a name for you 🙂

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