Please enjoy the following guest post from author Kimberlee Thompson. Kim is a fiction writer and Poet with a sophisticated wit. She lives in the North East and is a contributing author of First Thursdays, a collection of short stories by member of the writer’s group Somerset Ink.
My birthday? 1/1/1900. Or is it 2000? I live at 123 Main Street. My mother’s maiden name is Jones; my first pet’s name was Spot. My birthplace was Intercourse, PA and I attended Sweet Valley High.
I enjoy writing and reading fiction…except when I’m in a virtual stick-up. Online, I’m repeatedly told to hand over my info if I want coupons, access to a site, or to establish my identity as an author.
My personal information is all over the web already, since I pay my credit cards online and grab my bank statements off the net. I console myself that if anything happens to my bank account or credit card, the financial institution will make it right. Plus, I assume – hope – that they have a higher level of security than, say, a liquor site that wants my birthday before I can see a new drink recipe. And you can bet that Don Julio is not getting my real digits! As long as I’m 21 in his electronic eyes, I’m in.
I enter fake birthdays and names all over the worldwide web. My info doesn’t need to travel where I do. But even this is difficult for me. I don’t lie about my age in person, but online, I invariably make myself younger. Not by much, but hey, I’m not going to get older just for anonymity’s sake. So now I’m lying about my age, too.
Then it gets worse. Facebook? Millions provide it with free content. Any tragedy that strikes, there will be a file photo of the victim, courtesy of guess who. Not to mention the gigantic time suck. I could be doing laundry instead of posting pictures for people who only want me to look at their stuff, anyway. I could be reading. A book. Not daily ephemera and self-promo.
I read all over how I’m supposed to have a platform, an online identity, as a writer. Don’t we write fiction to walk in others’ shoes? So why all the personal info posted willy-nilly? I feel like I’m dumping the contents of my wallet on a scanner and posting the copy for anyone who needs to scam me. Or just plain ol’ violate my privacy.
I’m not sure how to reconcile my craving for privacy with the marketplace’s appetite for self-promotion. How do others honor their integrity and protect themselves while displaying information that most folks kept to themselves until recently?
Oh, but I don’t want to write under a pseudonym, either. I would like my writing to wear my name. I just don’t think anyone else needs to know my mother’s true maiden name to make my fiction worth reading. By the way, her name was Smith.
I hope you enjoyed Kim’s contribution and find it fosters the flow of some fresh creativity. Please feel free to comment on what Kim had to share and ask her any questions you may have.
Look for future guest posts from Kim and more of my favorite writers here at Writer’s Block.