The Internet: Believe it or not, it isn’t a private place.

Ever have one of those “duh” moments?

I have them all the time, but once in a while I have them at the expense of another person.  I’m not talking America’s Funniest Home Videos-style “duh”s, where you laugh because the idiot daredevil on the trampoline gets hurt in a particularly comical way.  I’m talking about that sick-to-your-stomach feeling you get when somebody says something that is both so heartbreaking and so unintelligent that you have to wonder if they’re missing the point entirely.

Like this.

This particular gem comes from a tumblr user whose name/url I will not divulge.  This particular user ended up switching the URL of her blog, moving it to a new location on the internets.  When her followers asked her why she was doing this, she responded by stating that her family and non-tumblr friends were aware of the previous URL, and she was afraid of them stumbling across some of the things she had posted on her blog, so she moved the blog to a place where they wouldn’t find it.

To reiterate, this girl was apparently ashamed of some of the things that she was posting.  Not enough to, you know, NOT POST IT, but enough that she was afraid of what her family and friends would think if they found out.  So instead of deleting those posts, refraining from posting the content she feared would incite strong reactions, and/or discussing her interests with said family and friends, she hid.  She ran away online, because she should have the right to a private place to showcase her secret interests.

On the internet.

In front of hundreds of other people, most of whom are complete strangers.

Presumably still keeping in contact with those friends and family, risking the chance that they will discover this new URL and she will eventually possibly have to move again.

All together now!

What does this say about how we view the internet? About how we view the people we encounter on the internet?

Granted, there is a measure of anonymity inherent in hiding behind a screen.  It can be liberating to be able to say anything we want, post anything we want, look at anything we want, having this massive archive of information at our fingertips and realistically no limitations or judgmental onlookers to inhibit us.

And yet.  Anonymity only goes so far, you know?  Especially when you’re posting things on a PUBLIC, SHAREABLE BLOG rather than a private archive.  By posting things on a blog, which has an URL that anybody can find and view your web-based goodness, you are saying “These are the things that I want to say to everybody–to the whole world.  These are the things that I like.”

Unless, of course, you don’t want the whole world to see them.  Then, I’m not really sure what you’re saying.

Maybe you’re saying that your personal blog is your own private business and nobody else’s opinions on it matter.  To an extent, that is fair–the people of the world ought not dictate what you post.  At the same time, though, if nobody else’s opinions matter, then why are you looking for followers?  Why are you taking and answering questions/requests/suggestions from complete strangers?  Are those not real people to you, because you can’t see or know them?

It just doesn’t seem to me that, if someone really cares about what their friends and family will think of the things that they enjoy/post, they should be enjoying/posting those things where literally anybody and everybody can see them.  Not only is it unintelligent, it’s just begging to be confronted with awkward questions when your friends/family inevitably DO stumble across your blog.

Of course, blogging isn’t the only place where this occurs.  How many people have had jobs, friendships, educations, or other meaningful and significant relationships completely shipwrecked because of what they posted on Facebook?  How many people have posted something careless or flippant in a status message, or in a photograph, and then been shocked when their incredibly public display had incredibly public consequences?

How often do we act like the things online are just between us and our computer screens, while we knowingly publish the most intimate details of our lives to the ENTIRE DIGITAL WORLD?

Not this digital world, though they don’t want to hear your angry facebook rants either.

The things that you enjoy, the things that you want to think or say, are indeed a matter of personal choice.  If you are a person of faith, like I am, then they are between you and your Savior.  I have no problem with that.  But everything changes when you place those beliefs, statements, and preferences on the billboard of the internet.  Then, they are EVERYBODY’S business.  Anyone who has the ability to see them has the legitimate right to be influenced by them, to respond to them, and to call you to account for your actions.  If you are a person of faith, like I am, then they will be a direct reflection of the way that you view your faith and your Savior.  So if you want to post something, go ahead.  Don’t act surprised, though, when what you posted goes public, because that’s what the internet is.  Public.  Open.  Visible.

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