Thursday, October 23, 2014

I got 'Outed' by Facebook's privacy settings...

Anyone who actually knows me, knows that I am genuinely open and disarmingly honest (or so I've been told). I've been 'me' for long enough now that I can honesty say I am happy being me - and I am equally happy for others to see and know who I am too.

I believe in telling the truth about who I am, and how I see the world - because I believe that such honesty is how the human race comes to understand each other, itself, and the world.

That said, I am equally aware that we all live within multiple groups and communities: 'Family', 'Work', 'School', 'Bowling buddies' - and we regularly move between those groups as we live our lives. Within those groups, we will find ourselves sharing different aspects of our personality and identity - showing different 'faces' that relate to the context of the group we find ourselves in. And so we find we are a different person to our parents than we are to our friends, and wear a different 'mask' at work to the one we show our lover in bed (or the dungeon)...

There are some of us who purposefully use these 'masks' to create and explore may different 'identities' - using them as a way to explore aspects of our personality that are normally hidden and undeveloped. When we don these other 'masks' we are not hiding our 'true' identity (whatever that might mean in our postmodern world) but using it as a way to become more fully another part of who we might be, and can become:

I am 'little David' to my family, 

'The tattooed Librarian' to my students,
MAT_Librarian to my professional twitter contacts
'High Priest and Elder' to my Coven,
and 'bootbrush' to my friends in the BDSM and pup-play communities.

The problem comes when those different communities converge - and those multiple identities merge. I may know that it is still the same 'me' who sits within and behind these many masks - but the members of some of those communities may be unwilling (or unable) to cope with the sudden revelation that seeing one of these normally unseen masks may bring - especially when the new mask they see appears to be diametrically opposite to the one they are familiar with...

At least, that's what I thought - until I got 'outed' this weekend by Facebook's privacy settings.

I have a 'writer's page' on Facebook for 'bootbrush', but my normal sign-in is my real name, since that's the identity that the majority of my friends and family know. I initially joined Facebook for work, and so most of my connections there are colleagues, family and 'vanilla' friends - and save most of my fetish interactions for the social networks specifically set up for that task (Recon, Fetlife, pupzone etc); however, I have found that self-imposed separation has slowly eroded over time as I've connected to friends within the leather community, and as more of the Leather groups have moved over to Facebook as a way to publicise their events to a wider audience...

This weekend was the Bristol Leather Weekend, organised by Leatherwest. Details of the weekend were widely publicised, as befits a Leather Pride event, and the weekend events circulated via the events page on Facebook. I stand by that initial statement of honesty and openness - and agree that it is only by being visible that we are able to be free - and so I decided to tag my attendance for the events that my Handler and I planned to attend (including the puppy-play workshop that Sir and I led). What I wasn't prepared for was Facebook then choosing to promote my attendance at those events to every one of my followers and friends - including links to the blog posts about it on Leatherwest and my own blog (replete with images from our naked pup-romp through the Fuggerstrasse at last year's Folsom event...).

The first I knew about it was when I received a couple of rather 'clipped' messages from some distant Facebook friends along the lines of "you people shouldn’t be allowed to flaunt your perversions in front of myself and my children; you should keep your private life private".  I was, quite frankly, pissed - both at Facebook for outing me so coldly and out of context, and at the prudishness of a few people whom I had thought were 'friends' and therefore would know me enough to know who I am and what I sometimes get up to.

I was pissed enough - and, to be honest, embarrassed enough - to post a little caveat emptor on my timeline:  

What I wasn't ready for was the mini flood of 'likes' from all the rest of my genuine friends - or the wash of love, praise and acceptance expressed in their comments. And not just from properly close friends: but from friends on the Pagan scene, colleagues at work, and friends of friends whom I have only rarely met:

And the moral of this story?

One: be careful with those Facebook 'like's and 'going's - you may find yourself sharing more than you intended. 

But, equally:

Two: live your life with honesty and conviction - and feel no shame for being who you are and liking what you do. Be truthful to those you meet and know - be open and be OUT. You might be surprised at just how many people will not only accept and LOVE you for being just who you are, but who will find your honesty an inspiration to fully embrace their own long-hidden desires and identities.


1 comment:

i really appreciate receiving constructive comments - they will be added once i have had time to review them.

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