How many of you are familiar with the concept of being “off the grid?” I don’t mean those hippies who camp out on a hillside with an organic community farm growing dreadlocks and showering once a month. No, my “off the grid” refers to the nights you take a little social media timeout, and make damn sure nobody tweets at you, checks you in on Facebook, or generally blows up your spot.
“Remember – don’t check me in, I’m off the grid tonight.”
Is it a dead notion in today’s 24-7-365 connected and transparent culture? Does privacy even exist in its true form? By going “off the grid” are you in fact sending out more of a signal than by maintaining a healthy tweet stream or updating your Facebook status regularly?
HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY??
Used to be that you could experience a new relationship with some degree of privacy. You could reinvent yourself in a way, and have a fresh start – a safe landing. Now, not so much. Got some skeletons? A crazy ex? A wife and kids? Guess what – she’ll find it on Facebook. On Google. She’ll stalk your Twitter feed. The fresh start is fucked.
But is there any hope of building something on your own terms? Most people I know have boundaries. Sadly, I don’t. So maybe I set myself up to be scrutinized under the public glare of insensitive tweets, or updates that place me at an entirely different location than I claimed when I bowed out of our date.
But that’s my choice. Being transparent is how I choose to live. And in a warped way, it forces an accountability that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Does it occasionally come back to bite me in the ass? Sure. (Note to men with kids: if you’re dating someone who doesn’t want kids and you have two, lay off the Facebook photos of family meals and outings to the bounce house theme park.)
I think that, as with most things in life, digital transparency comes down to a matter of balance and awareness. If you’re in a delicate new relationship, be aware of what you’re posting and assume she’s reading everything that crosses the transom and hits the web. And, balance out your bro tweets with the occasional insightful observation about that thing she likes.
It’ll be worth it in the end, trust me. And until next week, I’m off the grid so please don’t check me in.