integrity, dissembling and co-constructed identity online

Spillbeanssml Bit of a tricky 24 hours. I had a pain in my side which I couldn't explain. Went to see the doctor Monday morning who sent me to the local hospital who wouldn't let me out until I had had a scan. Which couldn't be run until Tuesday morning. Terrific social media fodder. Only the uncertainty would have been unhelpful. I was determined crisis permitting to get on a plane 6.30am on Wednesday morning to fly to Bucharest and rambling accounts of conversations in hospital corridors really wouldn't have reassured those who were waiting for me. So what to do? I sat tight until I had the scan and the surgeon explained Tuesday lunchtime that my bile duct was blocked with a 12 mm stone. And the best solution was to take the whole gallbladder out with keyhole surgery on Wednesday morning. At which point I started making phonecalls to reschedule the week's work for the following week. And started trying to relaim the cost of flights.

Was it dishonest of me not to give a blow by blow account? I don't think so. It was a vivid reminder that social media discourse is constructed however confessional it is. It never reveals everything and if so is a piece of exhibitionism fully aware that there is an audience present. There was a great posting about people's inability to self report their attitudes and beliefs which research ignores at its peril. If we aren't good at telling the truth about ourselves, then be very very careful about picking up verbal detritus lying around the internet and using this as objective evidence provided by individuals who must be telling the truth because they are protected by their anonymity. We do not readily tell the truth which is why interpretation is always necessary, as is our own rationalisation of the truth we have provided.

Related to this was a conversation on Sunday with a couple of friends who work in a country whose atitude to the internet is to put it mildly ambivalent. Of course we're not one Facebook they said. Most unwise. We need to be able to manage the information we post online and Facebook doesn't let us do it. We can be watched, linked to, misinterpreted. Its not worth the trouble and the risk. Which means that those of us who do engage with others using facebook do so accepting that we are allowing others as well as ourselves to co-construct our identity with us. I hate censorship. It gives away more about me than allowing others to represent me and blame them for it! But that's because so far co-construction hasn't cost me. When there was a risk I simply stopped posting until I had hard information I was willing to share. And that's the truth.

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