Sunday, December 27, 2009


The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies.

It's Relative

I'm not talking about when one is entrusted with necessary secrets by another, e.g., when a friend confides in another and asks that friend not to reveal what he or she has told him or her, or when one is entrusted not to give away trade secrets by one's employer.

I'm talking about my natural orientation and sense of what is private and what is public. To me, the less that is private, the better. I'm not sure if it's a case of trying to make up for a decade of secretiveness, from ages 11-21, when I was resolving my sexual orientation, and so I'm super-open altogether ever since, or that I'm no different than the most private of private people, i.e., that I wish I could control people's information about me (not to flatter myself that people seek it routinely, but...) and I just use an opposite strategy to the private peoples': I tell everything I can think of, so that no one can catch me off guard and reveal something that I did not want revealed.

Someone marveled recently, "When I began analysis [(therapy)], I was so reserved and so afraid to let go of that reserve. You seem able to share everything so readily."

Well, expressing my thoughts is relatively easy, I agree, and probably is even a compulsion at times, e.g., this entire blog is evidence of that, but sharing my feelings is much harder. Recently, I told a former girlfriend, "I always wanted you to show me some tenderness -- verbally -- and you never really did." That was so hard for me to say aloud. I don't think I ever put it that directly before, or at least not since we were together. It was a pure feeling, and not just a thought, and therefore much, much harder to express.

What Is and Is Not, Off Limits

Friends' secrets and job secrets are unmentionables, but otherwise, I don't think anything I want to share needs to be kept private. Paradoxically, I'm pretty sure I have an disproportionate sense of shame due to perfectionism, and so maybe this defensive entry about feeling that it's my right to share so freely is a strike at that perfectionism-shame cycle.

What is the purpose of privacy? To keep people intrigued; to avoid anyone, feeling ashamed....Other reasons don't come to mind.

What is the purpose of visibility? To help others and myself feel less alone in the world, and to help people learn. For example, my grad school launched "Pocket Knowledge" a couple of years ago, which features papers by faculty and students, and on which any faculty and student is welcome to post. I have posted some of my best papers on it, but relatively few of my colleagues have done so. I asked the librarian who helps troubleshoot the site why that is and she said she believed it was because people were afraid of others, stealing their content. Oy. I don't even think that way. And that's a third reason for my preferring the public to the private; I prefer that my stuff see the light of day and that it be useful to others, rather than that it be hidden, in the event that it's misused. I guess that's the risk-taker in me, and my abundance, rather than scarcity, mentality.

Visibility trumps a sense of intriguing, personal mystery for me, too, and I do try to follow my own rules of maintaining friends' anonymity, so that their shame, if not always mine, is not risked.

"You want to be known," my therapist said. I think I shared this here before; she continued, "Most people want to be known, but have given up; not you. That's hopeful." I have chutzpah and a big dollop of self-absorption that makes me believe that people are interested in knowing me, all the more so, the more honest I am.

Self-revelation is also meant, I'm sure, to weed out the less intense among people I come across, to socially engineer future encounters, i.e., if I scare you with my openness, and we have a choice of speaking again or not, then we don't need to have exchanges ever again.

Facebook apps are like astrology forecasts in my experience and so not something I take very seriously, yet one of them is about characteristics people have labeled as among my strong-suits and the chief among them is "Trustworthy." If I take the app at all seriously, I conclude they feel that way because I'm so open about myself that they trust me more than the usual as a result.


Denise said...

You are always so clear,I never have any doubt about where you are, that makes me trust you.Then you have integrity, you mean what you say. I had just switched from facebook after reading that you had signed up the app that allows you to see who veiws your page. Contemplating privacy or lack there of and how my fear plays in to it.When I know the rules I can abandon myself and I am willing to learn new bonderies.(not bad for an old dog)But the limitlessness I feel on the net and the sense of sending this communication into infinity is outside of my comfort zone.I applaud your skill and bravery.

Sarah Siegel said...

It's beyond my comfort-zone not to be so open and I'd not want anyone to push me to be less so, so I will not try to push you in the opposite direction.

rucsb said...

Stay the way you are...Sarah.