more thoughts on identity, self-censorship and (e)personae

additional thoughts on Dorothea’s entry on work and ‘blogging….

“The dissociators work for wankers; it really is that simple.”

ummmm, maybe…or better yet, not quite. I have a work weblog, which is pretty damn wonky & technical, not to mention filled with lists of things to do and notes about projects in progress. it’s my tool for me, not intended for anybody else really, although I write it assuming that my boss (at least) is reading it.

that blog doesn’t link to this one, and there probably won’t be a permanent link from here to there (sidebar-style), though. and on neither blog do I talk about my work environment as a personal experience. not at all here (excepting, of course, this very entry, and some early entries possibly to be discussed later), and very little on the other. and there, it’s only as those things relate to what I’m working on.

why is that? I certainly wouldn’t call my boss a wanker, even if this were a totally anonymous site; he’s a smart guy, thoughtful and good-humored. yes, he’s very concerned with the image of the college, but then again, he’s the head of what is, essentially, marketing – it’s his job to be.

when I first started this thing, I didn’t really realize that it was so public. (naive, I know.) and I wrote a few things that were perhaps not too diplomatic. (no, I’m not going to link to them. do you think I’m an idiot?) and somebody found my blog because of a link I’d forgotten to remove from the intranet, and he/she (to this day I don’t know who) complained to my boss. we had a long conversation, and I agreed (a) to be more judicious about when I post and (b) to not post about work. (or something like that, I don’t remember the exact wording of part (b), though that’s how I’ve implemented it.)

[I’m trying to decide now whether to leave in that para. I think it’s germane to what I want to write here, but I don’t know where it’s going to be seen or linked or if I’ll hear about it from someone I would’ve never thought of…..]

it’s that we live in a wanker culture. I know that it’s not just this job – I would’ve had the same problem, probably even more so, at my last job, or the one before that. social lying is bred into us, and when you speak with a totally naked voice, it’s frightening to the culture.

more to the point, it’s easier to be harsh in one’s judgements of the world and one’s fellow creatures, and one’s corporate masters (tho I work for the gov’t…and I’m more anxious about how I present my work for that reason), in text than in person. is it fair to be deadly honest when you know you wouldn’t be in person? prob’ly not. what’s the answer? I’d like to think that it’s more honesty in person, but I’m so conflict-averse that I don’t know if I could ever do it.

interestingly enough, I do write here and there about my work – I love web design/programming, and I’d still be doing it if I were still a sad little admin at united way. getting paid, in some ways, is just a bonus. I’d actually like to spend more energy writing about the technology, since it fascinates me…and that focus is very strong, and I’d like to think clear as well, in my workblog. what I don’t – and can’t – write about is my work environment.

which gets back to my thought about culture. work cultures have their own rules, and one of the rules is that you don’t talk about fight club. sorry, wrong rules…but maybe not. you don’t talk about what the culture is, what it’s built on. plus it’s a strange thing, work culture, in that it is and isn’t organic. the people who stay around (the “old-timers” in any office) have organically developed a culture, with mores, rules, traditions, feuds, etc. – but that culture is disrupted on a fairly regular basis by new people who bring their own previous experiences/cultures. sometimes the culture adapts to the new people, sometimes the new people adapt to the culture. writing publicly about your work’s culture – more so than about the friends of your real identity – disrupts the unspoken agreements built into the work culture.

am I a real person at work? do I express my real identity? huh. trick question, I think.

but I re-read Mark’s amazing essay on writing and secrets and I know that secrets are poisonous.

so I won’t write about my work environment, because I promised someone I respect, and because I don’t want to give it that much energy, frankly. I will, however, write about design, programming, and the issues involved. and I will be honest about my personal existence here, respecting boundaries that others have asked for. (for example, C has requested that I not write about him or the details of our relationship, so I only refer to him in passing where it’s germane to whatever else I happen to be writing about. it’s very anais nin, I think.) if you find this, and you know me in “real life”, and what you read here isn’t what you expected of me, then that’s your issue, not mine. the persona I wear in this space may not be the exact persona you’ve known elsewhere, but it’s part of who I am as well.

but I won’t write about the house yet, because I don’t want to jinx it. 🙂

[I’m not entirely happy with the results of this ramble, but it gets close to what I really need to say.]