I have always been amazed by the incredible amount of information you can gather from people on the internet. Once I googled myself and I was relieved to find that I have such a generic name that there are literally hundreds of listings that have nothing to do with me thereby giving me a sense of privacy. Then I googled my nickname and found links to my blog and a number of other things I have written. Shortly thereafter, my friend CH told me that if you google certain specific events the first links are about me or links to my photo album or even my blog.
As none of this information has ever damaged me in any way, I have never really cared about the fact that a good portion of my life is simply a click away. That was until last week.
My 3-D friends are in the habit of sending me stuff so that we can "stay connected". In my book, if you have my email address and my phone number you are as connected to me as you can get; however, some people need to feel more connected than that and so they usually send me invites to every "get connected site" there is so I humor them. At my friends' requests I have joined hi5, my space, a small world, friendster, where are you now? and I am sure I am missing one but I can't remember what it is. Normally, I don't add strangers and because I keep my buddy lists limited to my 3-D friends I don't usually get any surprises.
Last week, I received an email from someone I used to know back in High School.
I don't have any issues with my past or any nasty memories or anything like that. As a matter of fact, I had a very pleasant HS experience; however, that was my past and I put it behind me and I have never been interested in reliving it or dwell on it. It was really weird for me to run into J last summer, and I didn't expect to run into anyone else or even have to think about anyone else until my HS reunion. This definitely changed my plans.
So this guy I used to know wrote to me last week after he found me online. He remembered me pretty damn well whereas I had to look at his profile picture in 100 different ways and then ask him his last name before I knew who he was. I was polite, I wrote him back. I made small talk. I thought that would be the end of that.
One of the joys of small town living though is that everyone knows everything about everyone and one incident creates a chain reaction.
On Friday, I received another email. This time the email was from a HS friend. In a way I was glad to hear from her and I recognized her name immediately; however, it was hard to catch up because there are 9 years of nothing in between. She has since moved to NY and built a nice little life for herself but in her writings I see that she has not moved on from her small town ways and I can't find a way to relate to her. My experiences may have turned me into a snob.
Today, I received yet another email. One of the girls I used to smoke with in the bathroom (yeah, I was one of those girls) decided to keep in touch. That was weird because we were never close to begin with and because we had J related issues back then and although that obviously means nothing now, in trying to remember the way we were that just keeps coming back to me.
I feel overwhelmed by it all. I've gone from wanting to delete my profile from each and everyone of these services as well as my photo albums and even this blog to having to come to terms with the fact that the past will catch up with me sooner or later. The thing is that I don't know why I care so much. To an extent I feel like my privacy has been invaded but I can't think that because I put myself out there.
How can we keep a sense of privacy in a world where information has become more and more accessible?
I used to have issues with Google Earth...I think that the realm of my issues is expanding in a whole new way...