I have been struck lately by connections and communication via the Internet. There is nothing new about email, listserves and the variety of loops many of us share. But, nevertheless, I’ve been taken by how far reaching it can be. We’ve all been told that to promote our work we must have a website, a Face Book page, a Twitter account, LinkedIn, and the list goes on. Some publishers have admitted that they won’t consider a submission without seeing if you have enough “followers” to warrant their attention. On Amazon the rating of a book can dramatically change by how many “likes” are posted—that translates to sales once the book is higher on the list.
But, this isn’t really what I’m writing about today. I’m caught in a quandary.
Recently an old boyfriend from high school emailed me to just say hello. I graduated from high school in 1971. That tells you how many years ago it’s been. I use my married name, one he would never have known. I have an email address that has no connection to anything he would know. Yet, a friendly “how are you?” email came to me filled with details of his family. How the dickens did he find me?
Yesterday I received an email from a colleague I haven’t had contact with in about 15 years. We did work closely together, but times do change. She also knew me by my maiden name. Yet, a short “I miss you and how are you?” email arrived late in the evening.
Three days ago I received a call from my banker who wanted to pick my brain on ways to protect one’s identity. He has an elderly client who is at risk of being compromised. I’m no authority, but we did have an interesting conversation about what constitutes risk.
Here is the quandary. We are told we must be out there using social media to promote our work and create a branding for ourselves. At the same time we are “found.” I was delighted to hear from two old friends and a bit taken back that they took the time to find me. How wonderful. It also means that I have no idea who also might find me, whether I want it or not. So, how much do we share? How much do we sell ourselves at the chance of going too far? Where are the lines?