Maybe you noticed, or maybe you didn’t, but I recently changed my gravatar.
It caused kind of an existential crisis for me.
The initial picture was of me looking chubby and postnatal in a purple plaid shirt. The new one is of me looking more made up, sleek and sultry, thanks mainly to the fact it is in black and white with some fuzzy photo shop filters that make my dark eye circles and blemishes look mysterious.
I felt like in the first one I looked kind of round and maternal, and in the second one I look more sophisticated. Both of them kind of look like me and kind of do not at the same time.
I’ve been wondering if I even want a picture of myself at all on my blog. . . after all, I am a secret blogger. The purpose of my secrecy is twofold: One, I write under a pseudonym to allow me to be super honest in my posts. Additionally, since I work as a social worker, I need to have privacy and anonymity from my clients to protect both them and me.
I changed my children’s names, and have never used my husband’s name, yet I chose to put a real photo of my real self as my gravatar. What’s up with that?
Do I want you to see me? Really see me? Is that the allure of blogging for me; a sense of exposure that results in intimacy?
It all got me thinking about my privacy, what we reveal about ourselves and our families on the web, and why.
No one really knows I blog. I told my best friend (let’s call her. . . Natasha?), and she is a faithful reader, along with one of my favorite colleagues from work (we can call her Kandice). Other than that, all my blog readers are near -total strangers, or people with whom I’ve become friends through blogging. I’ve never pimped my blog out on my Facebook or even told family and friends that I am a blogger.
I’ve also never posted photos of my children on my blog. I am a person who does NOT live in fear, but the internets kind of freak me out, and I wonder who looks at my blog and why. Some of the search terms that bring people to my little Momasteblog are pretty freaky-deaky. For example: big nipple suck tumblr, son fucking working mother, housewife loves peeing in the dish, tit milk torture snak milk on her cookie, just to name a few.
Uh, no offense but I don’t want those weirdos looking at pictures of my kids online. Am I being paranoid?
While I post tons of pictures of my family on Facebook, something about putting pictures of them on my blog just seems anathema. Maybe it is because I control the (illusion of) privacy on my Facebook, but my blog is much more public? I mean, who is the person searching the internets for housewife loves peeing in the dish?
Is it crazy that I fear someone is going to hijack totally innocent photos of my kids off the internet, photoshop them, and use them for some disgusting pornographic thing? I guess it sounds crazy, but in my work I’ve seen stranger things happen.
I look at and read other blogs where writers post pictures of their beautiful families, and feel left out. My kids are so freaking gorgeous it would blind you! True story. But I just can’t violate or jeopardize their privacy in that way. While I post super private things about myself that might border on TMI, that is a line I cannot cross.
So if you were wondering why you haven’t seen any glossies of Jack and Emily, that’s why- their mom is a paranoid freak, among other things.
My original gravatar was by no means the most flattering photo of me. But I sort of miss it. It was taken on a really gorgeous day last fall when we went apple picking and I was wearing my daughter in the Becco carrier. A stranger took the photo of the four of us, and I had cropped it down to just my head and a sliver of Em for the gravatar. I like the new picture of me better, but it is essentially a gussied up selfie, which just seems gratuitous and icky by nature.
I tried using a generic photo I had taken of a little figurine of Tara, or Kwan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. But it was a crappy photo, and just didn’t feel right.
Sigh. Maybe I just don’t like change. Maybe I will change it back. I don’t know. What do you think?
At the end of the day, it totally doesn’t matter what my gravatar looks like, and I realize this. It is just another issue that demonstrates how my brain (when anxious and unfocused) latches on to something and traps it in a vice grip of narcissism until I feel vaguely panicked.
I will catch my breath and try to access my un-crazy side, but I think I will continue to muse and meditate a bit more on what I share and why.