October 10, 2013 by nooffensebut
Despite writing a newspaper column that often touches on my personal life, I place a lot of value on discretion.
“You get awfully personal,” my father has observed to me on more than one occasion, a cautionary tone in his voice.
I’ve assured him that, no, I really don’t. While everything I say is honest, I certainly don’t open veins in the newspaper.
As a reporter, I do sometimes seek to get other people to do so.
My most oft-used word during interviews is “elaborate.” I’m forever seeking to get people to peel away more layers of themselves. Call it a hazard of the job, call it plain old nosiness, but I often find myself very curious about other people’s lives.
Social networking encourages that curiosity. In recent months, for example, I’ve noticed a number of relationship status changes or deletions, or women reverting to maiden names — and I’ve wondered.
A relatively new development on Facebook — Timeline — has stripped us all even a little more bare. With the addition of this new feature, it is possible to look at every status every friend has ever posted.
In the same manner that I have the good sense to not discuss my politics, religion or deep, dark secrets in the newspaper, I have the same sense to not reveal those things on the Internet. However, there have been occasions where I must admit I’ve been a tad bit more open with my feelings than makes me comfortable now.
Therefore, I’ve been going on a bit of a trip down memory lane, as it were, perusing old status updates and deleting certain ones. In my case, this typically includes musings where I used certain unsavory words, sounded overly angry/bitter/judgmental, or put up articles that might permit someone to cast aspersions on certain political leanings I may or may not have.
That said, I make no apologies for my chastisement of those who wear midriff revealing shirts. That’s just logic. I’ve also deleted certain off-color, mean-spirited or overly personal comments others have made.
“Like, when did you get skinny and bitchy?” one woman asked in response to a statement I made about misuse of apostrophes. So I’m currently mean and formerly fat? The latter is true, but don’t go reminding me of it where others can see. Geez.
I have moments of saying what I feel in the moment, even if I shouldn’t. My mother once told me I wear my heart on my sleeve. I do my best not to wear it on my Facebook page. I enjoy a forum for fairly active commentary, but refrain from bleeding on the Internet as much as I avoid bleeding on a newspaper page.
I have to confess, however, that wanting to strike a balance of guarding my own privacy and dignity while still being an open, communicative person has not quelled my curiosity about the lives of others.
That said, I don’t quite understand the inclination to advertise feelings such as: “Why did my girlfriend leave me? Won’t anyone ever love me?” or “I hate my job so much.”
Yes, I do realize the inherent hypocrisy of this statement.
I don’t think it’s committing too much of an indiscretion to say that I’ve never been a perfect person.
Originally published Jan. 6, 2012 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press
Take two teaspoons of Andy Rooney’s Elixir each morning before breakfast. It will fend off the werewolves for you. – William F.