Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Privacy Meet Transparency, Your Ugly Twin

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 in Featured, iVoices |

Privacy Meet Transparency, Your Ugly Twin

It has been a long standing debate in our industry about the value of transparency in communication. It breeds trust, gives tangibility and street cred. Being transparent is cool. Until it’s not. Equally, we look at privacy protections, safety of our families online and the need to use code names and words for just about everything from the dog to the husband. But transparency has come to a place online where being truly transparent and completely private online are both pointless, fruitless battles. It’s us against the (PR/marketing/Google) machine, and we’ve lost.

I’ve used code names for my kids and self for years. I worked hard to keep my LinkedIn separate from my blog. I put my online personas into buckets: Facebook/LinkedIn in one bucket; Blog and Twitter and Flickr in another bucket. I went so far as to set search alerts for my name with my user names and cross reference the searches with my kids names — all for the sake of being both transparent and private. But somewhere along the way, the web got smarter than me. Oh, it just took one link to here or there, one re-tweet, one comment that used my real name to put it all together. Mark 2010 as the year that the Internet truly began to never forget.

The biggest problem with working in online communities has always been transparency — both the lack of it, the strive for it and the freakout when it comes to pass. It’s true that most people I know online know me as Garza Girl, and when I introduce myself I expect the blank stares, but as soon as I use my online name, the recognition comes. But the yucky side of that is that if you know me online, you know my dirt, because it is there in the cloud, where I, like so many others, have the false security that I’m writing anonymously. Transparency as we know it is dead because if it has to be staged, hidden behind user names and goofy profile pictures, then it’s not really transparent. Online transparency has a new norm: bare all or someone else will.

My someone else day has arrived.

I’ve been selected to be one of 15 iVoices for NBC/Universal’s iVillage. This means attaching my real name to my real face to my real life. This means being a face of a two-mommy family. This means the world will know that I feed my kids organically to prevent my daughter from having early puberty. This means that my crossed-eyes can’t be hidden. It means being transparent about my opinions on parenting to the world, not just in my backyard between like-minded friends. It means my exes — from the super insane thief to the one that got away — will be able to access me in all my 10-lb weight gain glory.

This move toward transparency also means that I will be able to work on stories that I am passionate about. It means I will put my image fears to the forefront of challenging myself to look in the mirror and into the camera. It means I’ll be able to offer a peek at what it’s like to be a two-mommy family. Being transparent means I’ll have to keep myself in check (can’t rant at the kid’s teacher anymore), keep other’s privacy in check, keep myself open to failure when it comes. It means, above all, that I’ll be living externally and that my role is to ensure I’m living that same life privately — the best I possibly can.