Identify The Boundaries

People who know me, the ones who I have met, the ones who follow my tweets, the ones who read this blog, know that I am obsessed with identity. I have written on the subject extensively on this blog, and I have explored the subject in depth on my personal blog. While on the surface it may appear that I am being a narcissistic ego-maniac, I assure you my intentions are good. For the last seven years, I have been conducting an experiment of sorts.

What do we feel comfortable sharing online? What is or should be private? What can we gain by over-sharing? How does this theory of openness help us connect to others? How does it affect community? What is everyone so afraid of? Should I be?

There are countless other questions, but you get the point. I have tried to share as much as I can, to see if by sharing every aspect of my life, I can build an authentic “brand.” One that will help me gather a tribe of like-minded people who will not only help me learn, but who will also become close friends. I am hoping that by revealing as much as I can, you will help me identify the gaps and help complete me. See this stuff is deep.

None of what I have written so far is new, so why write this post again? Firstly, I wanted to share my second online stalking! A few years ago, Clarence Fisher’s English class, investigated my online footprint and discovered some interesting things. No surprises. They got a superficial, yet accurate, image of who I was in 2010.

I am happy to announce that I have been stalked a second time. This time as a part of UMW Digital Identity course taught by Martha Burtis. One of her students was assigned to dig up all she could about who I am now. You can read her complete reflection here, but there is not much out of the ordinary this time around either. Beyond being impressed that she was able to identify my daughter’s addiction to Nutella, there was little in what she found beyond my blog About Me page.

She asked me to answer some questions in a recorded interview, which I do at the end of this video. Her introduction is hilarious, despite the poor sound. The interview questions at the end of clip, however,  sound fine. The worst kind of criminal–an educator…

One of the biggest criticism of social media and online sharing is that it is somehow inherently false and duplicitous. Because we can choose what we share, the thinking goes, we only share the best of who we are. We somehow build these better alter-egos of ourselves. We never shed light on our faults, show ourselves being ugly, or delve too deep into the darkness.

I am sure there is truth to this. This is what I want to challenge. I am not sure where the boundaries are, but I am very curious. I have tried to be as open as possible, but I am sure even I have held back. I know there are some definite no-nos. Never talk about sexuality. I will promote gay rights and gender equality, because I feel they are human rights, but personal thoughts on sexuality is a no go for me.

I have begun to share less about religion these days. I am openly atheist, but I hope that as I get older, I am becoming more tolerant and focusing on my own slow Zen practice. It’ a process, a journey. I am on it. Enough said.

Politics? I used to be more outspoken, but even my energy in that field has been subdued. I am trying to sort myself out first. I will speak up about injustice and criticize system I find unfair, but I seldom get into heated debates these days.

What is the next step of this experiment? How else can I dance on the edge of private vs public, personal vs professional? This is where you come in. I need your help. I am going to ask you a few questions.  I do not expect you to answer them. I would just like you to think about where your boundaries are? What would you never share online? What kinds of questions are just too much? Then I want you to ask me those questions. Leave them in the comments below.

I am not asking you to ask me these questions, because I will necessarily answer them; I just want to see how they affect my comfort zone. I want to sketch out my no-fly zone. Identify the boundaries. I am also curious what you feel is out of bounds. I want to test the waters. I am expecting that based on your culture and personality we will have a wide range of ideas in regards to privacy.

What is too much?
What do you feel is too private to share?
What would make you feel uncomfortable?

Thanks for playing along.


12 thoughts on “Identify The Boundaries

  1. avatarJohn T. Spencer
    Twitter: johntspencer

    I love it. I think you captured what I wanted to say and what I should have said yesterday. I went intellectual with it and tried to argue it from the Constitution. I can’t. I will share myself online. I have nothing to hide. If that gets me in trouble, I just hope I still get to teach. I love this gig. But ultimately, I’m not going into hiding.

  2. avatarCathy Germano
    Twitter: cjgermano

    My thoughts center on money and finances. You can not talk about a person’s worth without invading their privacy. This is the only area I feel makes people feel uncomfortable. I agree religion and politics can be tough issues but they can always be defended.

  3. avatarRodd Lucier

    While I love this space for thinking publicly about topics of mutual interest, the discussion wouldn’t be nearly as engaging if I didn’t know the people with whom I interact. But how much do I really want to know? Are there deep secrets about the Intrepid Teacher that would steer me away from interacting on his blog? Does knowing more about the Intrepid Flame inform my understanding of his ideas about education?

    I struggle myself sometimes to figure out which aspects of my imperfect self I should share publicly. Am I the same person on Twitter as I am on my blog? Do my slidedecks dovetail with my Instagram feed? Are any of these a true reflection of the real me? Should they be?

    In this age of the social, there is much to reflect on, and though I don’t often identify my own boundaries publicly, surely such a discussion is something we owe to our students who are already living in this very open online world. Before discussing with our children and our students, maybe we’d better consider these questions ourselves.

    Thanks for the prompt Jabiz…

  4. avatarmnkilmer
    Twitter: marknkilmer

    Is there some tension between branding and authenticity? As a person identifies the values which will define her online brand, it seems that tyo keep that consistent there will need to be some sacrifice of authentic human experience. True, those might be ‘authentic’ values, or authenticity might be the value itself, but as human beings we are all bundles of contradictions. Just some thinking.

    I’m not sure I have any absolute lines of privacy beyond the betrayal of secrets or intimate relationships. I would never hash out a marriage argument or a fractious friendship online. I think religion and politics are OK if done with a high level of self-awareness and respect for the reader. It seems to me that the cultural context of the online community determines what I’ll post or not more than my own qualms.

  5. avatarAlison Armstrong
    Twitter: alisonmusicblog

    Just the other night I wrote a comment on facebook about religion because of a conversation I’d had with a friend about Alain de Botton’s latest book about what atheists can learn from religion. Most of my friends on facebook are family and are Christian and they are the ones who comment the most on my facebook page. Even though noone responded to my status update I was so worried about how my family could potentially respond to my comment I deleted it after about 4 hours. Religion is such a difficult topic to broach for me, and yet the rest of my family are constantly putting bible quotes as updates on facebook.
    I try to screen everything I write so carefully, I wonder if my true identity does show through in my online musings…

  6. avatarwmchamberlain
    Twitter: wmchamberlain

    I am probably not the best person to ask these questions to because I don’t think I see sm as a boundary, it is more of an extension of me. I do have much different conversations online than I do in person, that is probably because I “know” more people here than in person. When I say “know” I mean have an idea about their thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. I find those things to be much harder to find out in person. This is a pretty interesting phenomenon, I think.

  7. avatarMatt Arguello
    Twitter: matt_arguello

    This is intriguing, as usual. I feel like I am constantly rethinking what I post online. I want to present an accurate portrayal of myself but, at the same time, be wary of comments that may be misconstrued. I digital “slip of the tongue” can get you, or people you know, in trouble if someone misunderstands or takes it out of context. As all educators know, we’re held to a different standard and are expected to be 24/7 models for all children everywhere. This is for better or worse.

    But a positive effect of this is that I feel like this kind of measured interaction has made for some digital spaces that are very positive. It’s almost as if people act online how they should be acting in real life, not too quick to criticize or react negatively. I like this. And I think it’s one of the major draws of spaces like Twitter.

    So what questions push Jabiz’s boundaries? Maybe, naming names. Who is the biggest impediment to you doing your job well? What would you rather be doing than teaching? What do you do on a regular basis that someone else should be doing? What pisses you off about your students?

    Feel free to skip any of those. Just pushing boundaries…

  8. avatarBon
    Twitter: bonstewart

    i seem to have relatively low boundaries for privacy…yet even after six years (today!) of blogging my way through intensely personal experiences of grief and pregnancy and parenthood, replete with both gory details and vulnerability i’m sure some find vulgar to their tastes, there is much i consider private about my online performance of identity.

    just as there’s much that’s private about my embodied life…in truth, i write more of my internal narrative than i ever speak it. so different warts show up than show up in person, i suppose, but there is no perfection, no better alter-ego. just a different self, one far more recognizable to ME, perhaps. aspirational, sometimes. and more under my control…when i blog i control the narrative.

    what don’t i write about? i write about the kids less, though still sometimes. i don’t mind writing about others, but not complicated stuff. not stuff i wouldn’t want them to read. which means i don’t write about half my family of origin. i don’t write whole aspects of myself that i AM comfortable with but which don’t fit especially well with the professional bridges i don’t want to burn entirely. i don’t write about my Ph.D program and the politics. i don’t bitch, basically, and i try not to whine. i’ll explore messy stuff and hard stuff but where it’s about ME, where the writing will take me somewhere towards a new understanding. i won’t just vent. (almost never)

  9. avatarsean tm (@seantm)
    Twitter: seantm

    Boundaries are constructs we define for context, meaning and sense of self and security. As they are a product of our relationship to ourselves and others; people, places, things, and even time and space i.e, past experience as you put it Jabiz those truly concerned with understanding identity must survey all the areas the “lines draw in”. To what extent we choose to share this process will of course differ among each person, their sensibility, and for some their means… Technology has liberated many by opening up the rest of the world to share this exploration but for some of us -like myself-there are still significant internal boundaries to overcome. With this awareness, I salute you and the others here for your collective courage in opening up and examining both inner and outer worlds past, present and future with us all…

  10. avatarAshley Phillips
    Twitter: anphillips01

    Mr. Raisdana,
    Hi. I am a student at the University of South Alabama, currently a education major. I was assigned to follow this blog in my EDM310 class. After doing so searching on here, I see that you are a advocate of students fulfilling their human potential and open expression. I too, feel that way. Sharing is imperative in the world we live in today. The more we share, the more others can relate to us; therefore beginning a close connection together. I feel that privacy restrictions should be based on the individual. You posed the question, What makes us feel uncomfortable?. This is my center point of sharing. If I feel something is going to make me feel uncomfortable when questions are asked, then I will not write it.
    The boundary for anyone should be limitless, except the cultural no nos, that you speak of. I am just learning about all the changes in education and how I want to change it when I graduate. After reading this, I feel that the students should be open and fearless to sharing, as well as educators. Living in a very open world, why wouldn’t individuals want to share?As I did on this blog, I want individuals to understand and know what I stand for and what I am against. It connects unrelated people in related ways. Meaning that two individuals can be completely different in most areas, but there might be one thing that connects the two. It starts a relationship. I know I would rather attempt to share to much information, rather than not enough. Appropriate information of course, but what really is appropriate? I believe that that is a lingering question that will remain.
    Thank you for the opportunity to explore this blog. I will also be posting a summary about it on my blog.

  11. avatarBen
    Twitter: techsavvyed

    I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile now, in the hopes that I might write something more profound, but alas that didn’t happen, so I’ll share what I can.

    The moment anyone talks about developing a “brand” online, then you’ve already bought into the concept of selectively sharing and divulging information that will help reflect and reinforce that brand. Others are better at “staying on message” in regards to that brand, but it’s not different online than it would be in a face-to-face conversation. I find myself having adapted many different “personas” based on the different roles that I find myself in, calling upon a certain reflection of myself for a given task.

    That’s not to say I’m suffering from multiple personality disorder, but rather, I couch my natural tendencies depending on the situation in order to help smooth over the conversation and discussion I’m having with a given individual. If you and I were to sit down and chat it would certainly be a much different conversation than one I might have with an old friend. Although we converse online, there is a vast ocean of what we don’t know or understand about one another, and even if we were to share there would still be much that we might be unwilling to divulge to one another. Relationships comes with trust, and most humans seems to have a healthy amount of trust that must be earned before truly connecting with others. Even those that share far too much information via Twitter or blogs still hold back a great wealth of who they are.

    That having been said, there always exists a certain layer of thoughts and emotions that seem to be “OK” to share with others. My father died of oral cancer when I was 15, and for some reason I’ve never had a problem talking about that, even with complete strangers. There are other personal tidbits that I’ve never really shared, and while I suspect much of that is sue to cultural norms, a great deal is that it is also takes a certain level of connection to a person. However, that may not always be the case, as I recently shared something quite personal about my health with a number of teachers in the lounge the other day that startled even me. Perhaps it was that I felt comfortable and “safe” in their presence, but more than likely it could have been that the topic of conversation had been brought up, and I felt as though it was appropriate to share given the context.

    Regardless, what we share will most likely be an ever evolving continuum based on our emotions, cultural backgrounds, and future experiences. What makes up too much is based on what the individual decides.


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