Disclaimer: I am not the me you think I am

In the days since the Justine Sacco twitter incident (which has officially been labeled a mob by the New York Times), I’ve spent a little time on a project that I’ve been meaning to focus on for a while:

Cleaning up my internet bread crumbs

You see: I’ve been at this a while. This thing I call “sharing of myself with strangers.”

I’ve been writing and posting opinion pieces, and uploading and approving photos of myself online since … well, at least since 1997. That’s as far back as I am able to trace myself though I imagine a stalker or a fairly good sleuth with a wad of cash with my name on it could identify earlier instances. Let’s hope that the first doesn’t exist, and the second never does.

For most of those 17 internet loving years, I stood firmly by the belief that sharing was good; identity theft was bad; and that since there was no way to stop people bent on investigating you or stealing your credit cards, why not position yourself in the light you prefer.

There was one little detail I didn’t pay attention to.

It’s that the light I want to shine in is ever shifting.

Even more so, there may come a time when I don’t desire the light. When I prefer to be hidden in the shadows.

Shadow me

Shadow me

If one day, a mob were after me, they’d find judgmental rants I am now ashamed of; they’d unearth unkind comments that were written on an off day; and they’d be able to amass a decent collection of really unattractive photographs of me in really unfashionable clothing (especially if they come across any from 2001 – 2003).

They’d find pictures of my kids that were cute in context, but now seem inappropriate. They’d stumble upon references to wacky dreams I’ve had or remembrances of drunken bodily performances. They’d certainly find articles written in a voice that is no longer mine; in a tone I no longer wish to express myself in.

I am not the girl you will find on a Google search.

I’m not even the girl who began this blog in 2011.

I’m someone else entirely.

In the cleaning up of the bread crumbs of me, I began by deleting or making private any online content I thought might embarrass my growing children. An effort of Herculean proportions that I will certainly never complete to their satisfaction.

Next, I tried to dig up the most obnoxious, off-the-cuff public statements I’ve made over the past year or two on Twitter or Facebook. Things I meant in jest, but might one day be held against me in a court of rash, cruel, public opinion.

But I know — even as I do this —

I know

That my efforts are nearly inconsequential.

Because what is appropriate now might one day not be. And what I see as an innocent or well-intentioned sharing of myself  could, at some point, be used to position me as anything from self-centered to irresponsible to crazy.

What do you do with that knowledge?

Do you unplug completely? Do you spit in the face of future detractors?

Or do you do what any good lawyer would tell you to do?

Add a disclaimer.

disclaimer jen

 

 

A virtual cure for anxiety is almost here

This morning, my hair dryer caught on fire.

Which is a lot better than my hair catching on fire — which actually happened once, the first time I visited Israel in 1992 and forgot to use a converter before I set my curling iron to my bangs.

I lost half my bangs that day … which was probably a good thing, in hindsight.

I sensed something was wrong this morning when I started to smell smoke. I smart girl.

By the time smoke started pouring out of the thing, my hand was already on its way to the outlet. So when fire sparks started shooting out from the plug, I pulled it out from the wall immediately.

RIP Conair Ion Shine. RIP smooth middle aged hair with no fly-aways.

It was startling, for sure, the fireworks display. It’s a fear of mine — electrical appliances spawning disasters. A friend of mine lost her house to a forgotten curling iron once when I was 10.

But the incident today was also strength-building.

How so?

As a lifelong anxiety sufferer, I’ve become really good at imagining the worst. My mind is programmed for disaster and tragedy; not so much survival and rescue. So that when I do save the day — when I manage to get myself out of a hairy situation or when, for instance, my child manages to narrowly escape harm all on his own — the grey matter in my mind has a new paradigm from which to think.

See, I can tell myself. You made it.

You are okay.

Not that I am inviting harm to myself or my children.

But I do firmly believe that a good, solid, quite startling, near tragedy is a muscle strengthener for those of us with anxiety. (As long as the outcome is a happy ending.)

It shows us that the worst isn’t always as bad as we think.

Perhaps one day, in the not-so-far away future, the smarty pants tech inventors I work with will come up with a virtual reality stimulator whose anxiety treatment is designed to fully scare the crap out of us.

So that we will see, once and for all, how strong, indeed, we are.