Tuesday, September 25, 2012


This week we talked about living life online--how much do we reveal and how much do we keep private? How comfortable are our teens sharing things online or being themselves online?

(None of us are quite this cool.)

So, how comfortable are our teens living life online? For most of them, sharing their full names is too much.

Chihuahua Zero: First of all, the reason I use this username is pretty apparent. ;)
Alexandra: CZ, that's smart
Chihuahua Zero: I protect my real name real close.
Chihuahua Zero: Although recently, there was almost a slip. Let's say my cross-country team keeps bugging me about why I never tweet them back.
Chihuahua Zero: That what I get for letting them squeeze my Twitter handle out of me, but I'm making sure they don't out me.
Karen: Yes. My motto is less is more with the online privacy stuff.
Karen: There are lots of crazy people out there who don't need to know about my personal life.
Matt: I don't hold much back online, except when it comes to my kids. They both have blogs, but no personal info allowed.
Karen: Yeah, sometimes I worry that I should have used a fake name
Alexandra: My unique combination of first and last name is pretty telling--there really aren't many Alexandra Shostaks in this country. I often wonder if I ought to have used a fake name.
Riv Re: I figure "Riv Re" is general enough. There are many ways you can go with that.
Lissa: I get nervous about my name, too. I use variations of my first name depending on the site I'm on, but the only place where I use my full and real name is Facebook, where I have strict policies I follow
Karen: My biggest concern is all these people who check in on FB and tell the whole world where they are and when--constantly. WHAT? No one needs to know that much about me or my whereabouts
Chihuahua Zero: Thing is, I'm never online as my "real life" self. Chihuahua Zero is my sole Internet presence, except in the school's email system.
Chihuahua Zero: I see no reason to be my "real life" self.
Copil: What is appealing about that? Or is it just for privacy's sake?
Chihuahua Zero: I actually like having a semi-secretive persona, even if I'm lazy about it.
Riv Re: CZ, what do you mean by "real life self"? How do you destinguish between personas?
Chihuahua Zero: Just a name. But the pure act of having a handle influences how I interact with people.
Lennon: I agree with Chi, actually. If I am ever on any site other than facebook or something school related that asks for my name I give them a fake name.
Chihuahua Zero: Not just from what information I give out, but how I behave with other people.
Matt: FWIW, when I was a teen, albeit 18, I met up with all kinds of people from the Internet. It was different in the dial up 90s though.
Karen: Matt, I'm with ya. I dont know why dial-up seemed safer.
Matt: It probably wasn't. I just got lucky
Alexandra: I met Karen on the internet before real life and so far she hasn't tried to kill me.
Karen: YET
Karen: ;)
Alexandra: Sh*t.

As for making friends and meeting people online, our teens are cautious.

Copil: I'm curious how you younger kids look at privacy. I think in my time it was a much bigger deal. But now I see it as being a bit more fungible, not as strict. Thoughts?
Chihuahua Zero: I like to keep people guessing about my age and such--even though I talked about it so much, you can put the pieces together if you actively look for them.
Lennon: I, personally, am very private about the whole online thing. However there are many of my friend that aren't, and use websites such as Omegle and Chat Roulette. They put personal information on the internet and think it's not going to be a big deal. If that answers your question...
Riv Re: But isn't that where the problem arises? People actively looking for info on you?
Copil: Thanks, Lennon. I wonder if you're the outlier? Or are they?
Riv Re: Lennon--but Omegle is different. On Omegle, it's okay to give out your age, because that person has absolutely no other info on you
Chihuahua Zero: I think others around me are more open on the Internet, but only because they have a "personal" presence.2
Lennon: I think that I am just a worrier and think I'm going to get stalked and killed and they are more open about it.
Chihuahua Zero: I once met a fellow writer on Omegle. I friended her on Facebook.
Chihuahua Zero: But through this persona.
Riv Re: I really try to be careful about what I give out online, even if I fail sometimes. I have some friends who are fine with their names, faces, and birthdays online, but I say "not cool, my friend." Maybe it's because no one I know really blogs/tweets/facebooks/etc.

And what about sharing their "real" personalities?

Lennon: I behave as myself but if I think someone I know is going to see it, I edit myself to make myself seem less recognizable
Chihuahua Zero: I think my greatest challenge will be transitioning from Chihuahua Zero to my real-life/author "brand".
Riv Re: I feel more like myself online than in real life.
Riv Re: I'm definitely more introverted and slightly more sane in real life.
Chihuahua Zero: One thing about the Internet is that whatever likeability you might have in real life doesn't carry over to the Internet.
Riv Re: CZ--good point. And now, in a totally stalkerish way, I'm incrddibly curious what your real name is. :P
Chihuahua Zero: For example, my cross-country team really likes me. On the other hand, I'm not sure what the members of the writer's forum think about me.
Chihuahua Zero: One writer said to talk about your personal life in generalities. For example, not referring to your family by name.
Jessica: I have become much more guarded with what I share online recently...I used to share everything but it got me in trouble a couple times
Jessica: I used to have a personal blog that I thought was pretty private / anon, but I was complaining about people and they found it
Jessica: also people who read that blog went up to my husband in public and started talking to him...he was NOT happy
Jessica: I'm sort of like CZ now, I have different "lives" online
Karen: I took down a lot of my personal inf ad pics after I got a pub deal. My publisher warned me about revealing too much. And I'm kinda glad listened to them cuz I did have one crazy reader I was concerned about.
Riv Re: The internet is fantastic. It's a place where awkward people, like John Green, can be JOHN FREAKING GREEN.
Matt: Amen to JG

Are our teens comfortable sharing WRITING online? (Turns out a lot of the Operatives aren't!)

Chihuahua Zero: I'm still wondering where I should put some of my writing.
Chihuahua Zero: I'm split between Figment and Wattpad.
Alexandra: CZ, you bring up something I wanted to ask. How private is everyone about sharing WRITING? Even the thought of posting my first line or my title on my blog gives me hives.
Chihuahua Zero: I'll probably seek out beta reads online, but I won't put it in a "public" space.
Alexandra: CZ, same here. I met my CPs online, but I got to know them as best I could through email and other things before exchanging pages. The result is some really great CPs who "get" my writing :)
Jessica: I don't put writing anywhere that can be found by Google
Chihuahua Zero: The longest piece of it is either on a writer's forum, or is a one-page excerpt on my blog.
Riv Re: Question for y'all: Do you have qualms about sharing writing online because you're putting it online, or because REAL PEOPLE might see it?
Jessica: but I shared my first page or two for contests and stuff
Copil: Other than my YAC posts and some Linux writing, I am VERY uncomfortable about putting my writing out there, Alexandra
Matt: I never share writing from novel size MSS, but I put up free flash fiction all the time
Chihuahua Zero: I'm keeping most of it off the "public" space to avoid copyright troubles if I go traditional--and the fact that it's mostly incomplete.
Riv Re: And now I want everyone here as CPs so I can read all your great ideas and steal them to pass off as my own.
Riv Re: (Wait, did I say that aloud?)
Jessica: Ha Riv!

There you have it. Some teens may be comfortable posting their locations and full names on Facebook, but many people (teens included, thankfully!) are still very cautious about what goes online. It seems that posting personal information into cyberspace--where nothing EVER gets deleted--is still scary.


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