Bonnie Stewart’s “In Praise of Living in Public” was the first and most impactful thing I read for this week’s topic. I enjoyed her offhand style and didn’t feel intimidated by her vast depth and breadth of knowledge, an ocean compared to my kiddie pool.
Most of all, I related to the existence, convergence, and contradictions of online identities or “masks” that Stewart discussed. I’ve never had a Twitter account and, before this week, never considered cultivating or curating a digital persona to exist alongside, complement, and enrich my scholarship. I have had several other social media accounts and have created slightly different versions of myself on each of them. This cultivation of different facets of myself is long-term and I’ve noticed it before, but I reflected more on it this week in light of Stewart’s reading and recent appearances of my writing in national and international publications, as well appearances of my face in a local PSA for immunizations.
Having a public persona or multiple public personae frightens me a little, especially as a Catholic working at a Catholic institution. I do not always take the same stance as the Catholic Church at the diocesan and national levels, and there have been and will be real negative consequences for some people who take those different or opposing stances. Stewart both goaded and encouraged me to be wise and also a little more courageous in crafting my digital presence and using the privileges I have through that presence and my persona(e) to do the same for others. We should feel able to present a truthful, if never whole, version of ourselves to others on the web or in person. We don’t need to share that we once ate five cans of Spaghetti-Os in one night, but we shouldn’t need to fear strong backlash for sharing a core part of our identity or our scholarship.
Thanks for the opportunity to blog! I enjoy writing but don’t make much time for writing like this. I look forward to learning more in the coming weeks.
I love the “truthful, if never whole” expression. Authenticity doesn’t need for us to reveal everything, just to be honest about what we do share. It sounds obvious but it really isn’t, so thanks for writing this!