Overlapping Circles

I’ve started writing this post three times so far. I was going to write about a television show, and the parallels with my own life – but then wondered if it was all a bit meta – a bit niche. This is ridiculous of course – because filtering the subjects I might write about implies the expectations of an audience – and I can probably count the regular readers of my inane thoughts on the fingers of one hand.

I guess the thought that has been tumbling around my recently is about the versions of ourselves we present to the world. Take this blog for example – very few people in my every-day life have a clue that I write a blog (although that number is increasing, after being outed on Facebook recently). I don’t hide the blog’s existence at all, but I think the internet has become a “TLDR” (too long, didn’t read) exercise for many people. Unless your content is either controversial, funny, cute, or contentious, there’s very little chance many people will take the time to look at it. The blog presents a version of me – a subset of the whole.

If we start thinking about other social networks, we get more subsets of ourselves – the version we publish on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and so on. Different platforms, and their inherent audiences almost demand different levels of transparency. Some people will claim that they are an open book – that they are the same person everywhere. Don’t believe them.

I think a lot of the problems caused by the social internet are because we have started overlapping the various circles of friends and acquaintances that would otherwise not have happened.

Take me for instance – you might say my circles are my direct family, my extended family, the people I work with, the parents of children from school, neighbours, and people I know purely via the internet (you could subdivide them into Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, WordPress, Blogger, and so on – but for the purposes of this, let’s call them “the internet”). Although some of those circles overlap, they don’t all overlap – and so you are afforded the chance to have a different relationship with some of them than you do with others. For me, the internet circle is an escape from the daily struggle – not a chance to re-invent myself – more a chance to shed baggage, expectation, and obligation.

Here’s where we throw a gigantic spanner in the works – Facebook. Most of the members of the circles are on Facebook – and few people use the security features properly to segregate the people they know, or to target anything they post to a particular circle (I was going to write “faction”, and while probably correct, didn’t sound quite right). It’s a perfect car-crash.

We all filter the information we choose to share about our daily lives depending on the audience. Some share more than others (often either hilariously, or horrifically, depending on who and what we’re talking about). I find myself sharing less and less with each passing year. My favourite blog posts are almost always those I have written from the corner of coffee shops, or pubs – watching the world go by. I have no doubt those posts are also more entertaining to read than this drivel too. You can’t have one without the other though, because this is who I am – the guy that sits on the fence, watching the world go by, writing alternative Amelie screenplays – and the colossal nerd that things too much about the nature of anything and everything.

This blog post has gone of for long enough about nothing in particular. Time to pull my head out of my own ass, look up, and experience the world a bit, rather than pull it to pieces.

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