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2/20/2013

Personal Private Public


Years ago, I refused to own a personal computer.  I fought ferociously against the earliest versions of grocery store rewards cards.  I was suspicious of filling out those little product warranty registration cards.   I was quite sure that my privacy was being threatened from every single direction, and it outraged me.  I was quite sure that the technology that was cropping up everywhere was a threat to my right to decide who should know the details of my life.  That was then.

Somewhere along the line, I gave up that Luddite stance regarding the rush of technology, and capitulated to an online presence.  It wasn't long before I followed the technological path into the alternative lifestyle realm, and, in time, to a very non-traditional set of relationships, erotic proclivities, and this very public mode of expressing that set of interests.  I have, for over eight years, written some 1910 blog posts (here, and at The Swan's Heart, and Herons Transforming) discussing my/our most intimate interactions, and most private thoughts.

I knew, from the very beginning, that doing this kind of writing was a public act.  There is nothing "private" about writing out here on the Internet.  We considered carefully before we started blogging.  We decided, consciously and deliberately, about the level of risk we were willing to tolerate in order to do this.  We understood that, in spite of the precautions we took to separate this part of our lives from the professional, non-kinky world in which we live and work, there was no such thing as foolproof or leak proof privacy.  From the moment the first word went up, so many years ago, we've lived with the potential threat of discovery.  Periodically, we contemplate the possibilities afresh, and reconsider the risks.  We have, so far, determined that the odds of catastrophe were fairly small ... and so we have continued to write blog entries about whatever it is that is happening in our lives.

Now, in reaction and response to the firing of another educator in another building within our school system, my employer has just published a "Social Media Policy," and I must admit, it has given me some pause.  The provisions of the "new" policy are not particularly surprising.  I've always operated this blog knowing that this was the reality of my work life, AND I feel like I want to make note here of this edge to my life.  The pertinent bits of the text (with my italicized paraphrasing) are as follows:

The Organization ... recognizes that ... employees ... may create Personal Websites as a medium of self-expression. Employees ...  must recognize that anything published on a Personal Website is no
different from making such information available in any public forum. Any information that
... has the potential to cause embarrassment to the Organization ... should be avoided. ...
The Organization ... will not tolerate employees... posting obscene, harassing, offensive, derogatory, defamatory or ... scandalous comments, links and/or images ... The Organization ... reserves the right to review an employee’s ... Personal Website, if there are reasonable grounds for believing that policy is being violated.

So, there it is in black and white.  There is no privacy.  What I write here "will not be tolerated."  The risk is what it is.  I can't calculate the odds.  I know that it would only take one mean-spirited someone, and that would be that.  I am quite sure, based on the recent events, that MY case would garner no sympathy.  The world is not a safe place.

But then, I already knew that.

swan


20 comments:

  1. How close are you to retirement? Soon it should be no ones business but your own.

    PK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not close enough... I just turned 58 on the 5th.

      swan

      Delete
  2. I should quote you mine... even more draconian.

    There is no privacy, and yet... we have freedom of expression. That should be worth something, if you chose to challenge it.

    -sin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, sin --
      The normal freedoms are not part of life inside a religious institution... Sigh.
      swan

      Delete
  3. Yeah ...it's not good.The price you pay for getting to know other oddballs is that those who don't like your kind of oddballness - or even those who might secretly like your kind of oddballness but are afraid others will not like it - can hit you for six.

    I'm in the middle of reading "Little Brother", by Cory Doctorow. You might find it relevant, it can be found online, free, here.

    There seems to be a rash of taking blogs private spreading recently. Let us know if you succumb so we can get invites!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Malcolm,
      I am not planning to take this blog private. I know there are risks, but then, I think that might be the definition of being alive: there are risks.
      swan

      Delete
  4. Ordalie3:43 AM

    "The Organization": the very word sounds ominous, like something from The Godfather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ordalie --
      Organization = Church (with a capital C). Is that ominous enough?
      swan

      Delete
    2. Ordalie11:53 PM

      It is! I didn't know it meant Church. Is your school founded by the Church?

      Delete
  5. I'm so glad I live in a country where those kind of things from employers isn't legal.

    Of course, if you want to fire someone there's always ways to do that, but not blatantly because of non-criminal things written on a private web sight. That's kind of mind boggling to me, that it's okay to put those kind of conditions on an employee.

    I know it doesn't help you in any practical ways, but I just want to say that there are places in the world where it's not like this, where what's done to you isn't allowed.

    If my blog was "found out" or connected to me, it would be embarrassing, and awkward. But no-one could threaten my job or my family in any substantial way because of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. c --
      I think that is the way it SHOULD be. Everywhere. Maybe someday.
      swan

      Delete
  6. All I can say is WOW - just wow!! like you I have wondered / worried about being discovered. ......... but now only 4 months to go then they can find me all they want........... but till then??? maybe I will have to be careful too..........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. morningstar --
      I have thought about that idea of "being more careful," but I'm all over the cyber universe -- and have been for years. There is no taking it all back. At this point, I figure my luck holds -- or it doesn't.
      swan

      Delete
  7. Anonymous11:30 AM

    Recently an administrator in Florida was fired from her job for blogging about her sexploits as well as some derogatory remarks about co-workers (named no less).

    The county I worked in had such tight security on the county network you couldn't access you home email account. Had to laugh at one episode. I wanted to check prices and order containers for teachers to store their unused classroom libraries. Put in the search argument "rubbermaid+container" and up popped a box saying unauthorized website search. Got a call from county office security and had to explain what I was doing... Got home and put in the search oh my... was I red faced with embarrassment at what came up along with the Rubbermaid company's website.

    So you never know what might pop up when certain words are put in a search argument. Or who might be searching. That is how the Florida gal was found out.

    Just be careful!

    Joycew

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carful?
      After all this time?
      Probably there is very little point to that, Joyce.
      swan

      Delete
    2. Anonymous2:22 PM

      Ha. I was working for a mobile telecom company, doing a project on video conferencing for consumers. I typed in "video chat", and went to a screen that said that my search was inappropriate and had been logged by the company. They were, of course, thinking that I was looking for live girls on camera to chat with.

      Of course, the same company did not allow us to visit the web sites of competitors. This was tough, because a lot of my job was competitive analysis.

      Delete
  8. My wife tried to web search for articles about the human ancestor "Homo Erectus". That didn't exactly work out the way she intended either...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL!
      Internet search term horror stories.
      I once asked my science classes to do research on black holes... It was in the early days of Internet access in the classroom. That was not a good day.

      swan

      Delete
  9. Is that even legal?

    There are certain codes of conduct, but it shocks and angers me that an employer could zap you for an anonymous blog that is in no way (overtly) connected to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. It is legal.
      swan

      Delete

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