Monday, August 29, 2011

The Internet, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter & e-mail, what do you reveal & don’t


I have been a blogger for close to five years. Always on blogger, though I had my flirtation with wordpress (briefly, in protest that Blogger insists on outing you if you wish to have multiple accounts and always want to maintain a secret identity, keep something of yourself back).

Blogging and blogger is one of the best things that ever happened to me, and I will always be thankful to ‘godfathers’ Ivan and Baz of Kyali for initiating me into this world. In my world of necessities, things I can’t live without (if I have a choice), blogging ranks up there with human lives and books and reading and film for me. I know, I know, but we are Madandcrazy here.

Besides if it were not for blogging, there a whole lot of people here I would not know. Pulled into their orbits because they first started commenting here, began a commenting conversation that blossomed into Facebook friendships and the bold ones broken through, insisted in hands on marble topped table conversations in coffee shops on Parliamentary Avenue, some even coming to the offices I have worked in over the last 3 years. So blogging is important to me, it is an entry route to so many things-even becoming friends with a neighbour who was a long-time reader, had never figured it the M&C blogger was the hubby to one of her best friends, well!

But my relationships are never without tension, a hint of the unspoken with depths dreaded a crisis will force examination. My relationship with blogging, the whole internet experience has always been sort of like that. Much as it gives me and much as I give back, there are trust issues. A suspicion that this is a card game or snakes & ladders, and if your attention strays a bit, your opponent will not be forgiving. The whole internet/blogging/facebook/twitter experience is life blood but you’ve got to be careful with it.

Maybe I’m a true child of the internet age. I’ve never completely trusted the fools’ gold promises of Mr. Zuckerberg or Mr. Evan Williams, appreciating that though Facebook or Blogger or Twitter were snapping brain cell ideas, ideas have to fund the rent and that is where our residence on their platforms becomes opportunity before charity. Our lives a drama to fuel interest and more voyeurs.

Perhaps that is why, while admiring the candidness of so many bloggers, facebookers, tweeps I’ve always wondered if they appreciated fully how blogger, facebook and twitter are like the Eagles ‘Hotel California’-once you check in, you can never really check out again. How many are aware that for example the USA Library of Congress has a programme to store all tweets for eternity? That with Facebook, once you get tired of the novelty and decide to deactivate your account, your account does not ‘die’ but goes into a ‘coma’ holding cell, waiting for you all the while, when you miss your facebook life on a nothing-to-do Sunday afternoon (with no wedding reception to attend, or family gathering to work out your awkwardness, trying to remember all the names of all the babies everyone seems to be with).

The persona-impression you choose to make on these platforms, on the internet (thought out or not) becomes a part of you, like the details on those Primary Seven ‘JABB’ forms may one day herald your being kicked out of a Parliamentary seat because on the eve of ‘entering’ University, knowing now what you want, you decided to alter some details. It reaches out, further than you first suspect, to inform people who have read you, followed you, or liked your photos-and now wish to know you as a friend, a lover, or even a work colleague in the trenches.

I used to think that to go online, to sign up for anything, even an e-mail account, is to lose control of your life. I have lived some more since that first 1997 yahoo email address to know that we never have 100% control over our lives, in Uganda especially-sometimes not even a referendum vote on them. But we are not totally without any control.

Sometimes the issue is, are you aware you can have some control? I wish, when I was signing up for my online life, someone had handed me a memo: Things you should know before you open that email account, or facebook or blogger! Not the legalese barely understandable for the hyper unable to read one line without clicking into another window we find before we sign up. 

1 comment:

Dennis D. said...

man, why all the moroseness? i think we all know, deep inside, somehow, what to expect when we sign up for facebook/blogger and stuff. the thing is to be frank to oneself and enjoy yourself while at it. when you really are, you'll have regrets whatsoever. of course i remember my early days of blogging and face-booking when i surrendered to the pressure of trying to impress but ended up nearly losing myself! of course i've since learned from the experience and will never be pushed about, never again. so i accuse to blog when i want to, choose to facebook when i want to, and generally lead my virtual life according to my dictates. here, not blogger, not facebook, i'm in control! i don't have "some" control. i've all control. cos decide what to "hurl into the atmosphere." in fact i like that i can still reactivate my account even long after i have deactivated. means i can come and go whenever it suits, ain't that lovely? nothing disquieting about this whole blogging/facebooking thing!