“careful about how you present yourself”

August 21, 2007

As I mentioned, some Uncertain Principles guestblogging on the fine old days of Usenet News inspired Drugmonkey’s big mistake.  Janet over at AdvEthSci made a relevant comment as follows:

Online, we don’t know who may be reading. There’s a way in which one’s blog persona is a very public thing (and, thanks to the Google cache, a very public thing that may be available for close inspection for a long time). This can make you pretty careful about how you present yourself. At the same time, especially for those blogging while pseudonymous, communication online can feel safer — you can put your ideas and arguments out there and let them sink or swim on their own merits, rather than having them tied up with preexisting impressions about what kind of person the author of those ideas and arguments is.

As it happens, one thing I had to do was to spend a little time Googling BikeMonkey (no dumbass, my real name, duh) and cycling and some other keywords. Just to see what sort of limb I was going to put DM out on and that sort of thing. It’s bad, but not too bad, so we went with the current scheme. But if Janet only knew. Imagine when your dirty laundry stretches ‘way back into youthful indiscretion territory (no, not of the Henry Hyde midlife crisis variety of “youthful”). It is going to be pretty funny in a decade or two when DM and his frequent commentors have gone to the dark side of “old established professordom” and have to defend these comments to new asst profs!  Oh, and also in the blog geekery file, look who I found here; note the page title and general area of endeavor and then page down for cycling interests!

3 Responses to ““careful about how you present yourself””

  1. Thomas Robey Says:

    As you know, I am a novice to the concept of blogonymity, and I am glad I encountered it and the concept of it early in my blogging career. The same concerns that lead to one blogger’s pseudonym can put me on guard for both what I write and the way I spend my time.

    You’ll recognize that I carry a few unique (and possibly career impacting!) opinions. I had originally thought my blog to be a venue to air them out to public input so that I could refine them. I recognize now that that was much too idealistic. Most of the folks that take issue with my views (yourself and Mike Haubrich excluded) do so with sarcasm or with the intent of nitpicking. Finding a community of thoughtful contributors (as you have attracted here) will take a while.

    What confounds me is how/why individuals past statements are so important. As interpersonal interaction becomes more text-based, how do folks expect that we come to our opinions? Reading and meditation and original thought help, but I put public discourse highest on the list of things that underlie my own opinions and beliefs. Even so, I refrain from writing about certain topics or signing on to certain online projects because of future potential misconceptions surrounding those actions. I don’t want to jeopardize a possible career with an experimental idea. I guess I’ll need real live friends to talk about those ideas.

    A final, somewhat unrelated opinion: What I think is neat about the SciBlings and their satellite blogs is that the writers seem all committed to honest conversation, even if ‘trolls’ do populate discussions.

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  2. Thomas Robey Says:

    Okay, I conflated bikemonkey with drugmonkey… As I now understand (I think) the difference, you’ll have to sort out my above comment as you see fit.

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  3. drugmonkey Says:

    Thomas, no worries. It’ll be confusing for a bit, hopefully not too bad. Dr. Joan Bushwell’s was the model, seems to work for them.

    Even so, I refrain from writing about certain topics or signing on to certain online projects because of future potential misconceptions surrounding those actions. I don’t want to jeopardize a possible career with an experimental idea. I guess I’ll need real live friends to talk about those ideas.

    I don’t have any solutions really, but you are wise to at least think hard about some decision on the public front. Ultimately you have to balance the quixotic “I’m just going to act as if the world is as I wish it were in hopes that it really is” with the “Yeah, but get real here bucko”. For any job consideration in the future you are going to be Googled. Everybody knows this, or should.

    Unfortunately, you probably can’t predict your eventual career at this point, no? So you could see where certain things you do now (like blogovating) might be either good (policy, media, publishing, politics) or bad (experimental science) depending on the eventual job track.

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