Thanks to the ever changing world of technology and social media, it’s become clear that there is no such thing as “six degrees of separation.” Frankly, I think it’s one-two degrees of separation at best. This point was brought home to me a few days ago when I learned that a local follower of mine on twitter had attended the same college as the Man Unit. Granted, the Man Unit’s alma mater is very well known for its journalism program but it is in the Midwest and we are in New England. In a case of how small the world really is, it turns out that this woman had not only attended the same program as my husband but they actually had in the same graduating class and once I told her who my husband was, she knew who he was. Talk about a holy smokes the world is small moment.
Lately I have found myself thinking about how small the world is as readership of this space grows. I am still amazed when someone in my local offline life tells me that they have read some of my work. Offline I actually don’t talk about my writing life. Until recently, I kept my career as a non-profit administrator separate from my blogging and writing hobby (possible second career), but in recent months that has proven harder to do as local papers here in the state of Maine have spoken with me on various issues. Some months back, a well-known Maine journalist tracked me down for some of my insights and a day after his piece ran, I found myself in a yoga class with a several people who had read not only my thoughts from the other writer’s piece but who had looked up my writings.
Last night, I came across a piece from a writer I admire on twitter, who had a friendly rant about how there is no separation between our online lives and our offline lives. The internet is here to stay and gone are the days when you can hide behind a fake photo and name and say whatever you want without it eventually being connected to you. I agree.
It’s one of the reasons that despite many well-meaning people suggesting, I tamp down my online hijinks or at the very least use locked accounts, I refuse to. For starters, I live in a small rural state and being online allows me better networking opportunities than I have available to me offline at the moment. Then there is that pesky fact that as a transplant who is over 30, meeting people is just hard. A decade here and while I know of a lot of people, I really have few people locally that I consider friends and the slightly sad fact is I met most of those people through online ventures, namely a now defunct local parenting discussion board. Lastly, I enjoy being online, it doesn’t interfere with my offline life. The day job gets done, the family is tended to, everyone’s needs are met, so why not?
I admit it is slightly unsettling to know that local people are reading read my work, but it actually means they are getting a chance to know me. Too often, we only see people in one dimensional ways often based on what they do for a living. Here, I strive for honesty at all times and if it offends, that’s okay too.
The world is an increasingly small place and no matter how some of us feel about that, no longer are our lives neatly compartmentalized. You don’t get be one person online and another offline and as uncomfortable as that feels it is reality. It means we all have to be a lot more intentional about who we are especially online since in this brave new world, even seemingly unrelated things such as jobs have been lost because of the disconnect in our lives. As crazy as it is, I am not sure that is a bad thing. In the past I have been told I over share, at least online, trust me there is nothing that I say in any space that I wouldn’t admit or share publicly.
It’s a small world now and it’s getting smaller yet it’s a great chance to define or redefine ourselves and be intentional and authentic in that process. So if you do nothing else in 2013, my two cents of advice is to be intentional in all that you do.