Friday, February 26, 2010

On Identity, Mistaken and Otherwise

It's Been an Interesting week on the Identity front.

Recent Cases of Mistaken Identity:
  • Those of you who don't know me will find the following amusing, those of you who do know me will find it hilarious. I was sitting next to the pool the other day, watching the kid swimming. I was wearing a pirate bandanna, a light long sleeved top, blue jeans, and cowboy boots. I am sipping a Icy Cold Pint of Heinekin. A woman comes over and says, "Wouldn't you rather be in the pool? aren't you hot?" and I'm all, " I'm not really much of a swimmer, and anyway, I don't want to get cold" We chatted about this and that, the kids, etc... and as she walked away, she said "I don't know you Muslim women do it. Being all covered up like that" I think she had me confused for someone else... someone far more pious than I am.
  • Three times in the last week, someone has called me by the name of my former boss, or assigned her last name to me. Like "Suburban Al Zubair" for Example. We look a lot alike, and when we were working together, we were really inseparable.... But, I don't think she wants to be affiliated with me, and I'm perfectly happy being a Non-Wastafarian, and using my Non-Wastafarian Husband's Last name. Any advice on how to extricate myself from this particular association is welcomed. Likewise, and advice on how to have a lot of fun with this increasingly common mistake is welcomed as well.
On the Subject of My former boss... Despite all the insane shit in the company, and the total Friendship shut-down when I resigned, I miss her, and miss whatever questionable friendship we shared. How pathetic am I, Seriously?

On the subject of Social Media, I attended another Tweet-Up over the Weekend, and had a great time talking to (Talking At?) everyone there. You can Add road Safety and the 1979 Siege of the Grand Mosque in Makkah to the already comprehensive list of issues which I seem to be able to discuss at length with virtual strangers. Everyone was really polite, despite the no doubt crazed look in my eyes. It was a great event, overall, but I came away having learned a really important lesson in the reality of maintaining Semi Anonymity and a separation between my online or public persona, and my private, or real persona.

I Blog Semi-Anonymously not because I'm unwilling to stand behind the things I write. I blog Semi-anonymously because I need to protect my family from the sort of Wackos who send hate-mail and death threats, and the sort of Religious Nut-Jobs at Stone's work who would like to get him in trouble for the things I choose to write.

Having received One death threat, and the occasional threatening Nasty-Gram, I am selective about to whom I reveal my name, contact details, and identity, even more so where my family is concerned. I, (and now Stone) have unfortunately been outed, through my own carelessness, or via misunderstood implied consent, three times in the last few months. Stone is Absolutely Fucking Livid, and rightly so. Even the neighbors could hear him shouting this morning. He's pissed, because my dorky blogging and twitter habit shouldn't effect him.

You guys don't know the Kid's real names, and you don't know Stone's Real name. This is important to me because it's their privacy, and their safety. If I wanted them referred to by their real names online or in public, I would call them by their real names. So, Internet and social media Whiz-Kids out there, If I don't refer to myself or my family by their real names online, NEITHER SHOULD YOU. That is totally basic, elementary level Internet blogging and Twitter Etiquette.

It's fair to point out that I should be more careful about whom I share any identifying details with, and that I should, obviously, spell out my expectations regarding how my information is shared when the online and offline worlds collide. As a result, I'm tidying up my twitter stream, and editing down some blog posts which give away more information than I feel comfortable having in the public sphere at this time. Something I should have done a long time ago.

Guys, How do you balance the amount of personal information available about you online. Were is your risk/ reward bar set for being personally identifiable online?


Kristi said...

Very sorry to hear about the loonies. In response to a few crazies asking detailed questions about us, we made our blog private. I've been enjoying your blog, so I hope you don't do that! Have lots and lots of questions for you about raising kids in Oman.

Suburban said...

Hi Kristi! Thanks for your comment. I won't be taking my blog private, but following someone Tweeting my husband's name (After having to ask him for it 3 times) I decide to pare down my followers list on twitter, and be a little more discreet regarding what I post here. I would love an invite to read your blog, by the way!

You can always drop me an email at I'd be delighted to answer any kid or muscat related questions you may have.


Anonymous said...

twitter is a double edged sword, especially when you blog anonymously and then turn up at tweet meets twice as otheroman. I don't think that was smart at all. Twitter has all kinds of people, some so publicity hungry they would go to any lengths to get that. Some of us have known who you are 'coz we have common friends. But that hadn't blown your cover as much as you appearing at copper chimney and hatat house. anyway a lesson learned however late is still a valuable lesson. and as you guys move on to the next posting soon all will be forgotten. ciao and all the best.

Suburban said...

True, it was a lesson learned, and it was foolish to attend either tweet meet.

I think, (and the WHOLE ENTIRE INTERNET AGREES) that discretion regarding personal details is not only implied, but Expected at Tweet Meets, or conventions such as Blog Her.

For Example; Let's say that in conversation at a meet, Muscati revealed details of his children, and where they go to school. Obviously, that is information being shared only with those present, and it would constitute a violation of trust if I were to then broadcast that information widely on the internet, for absolutely anyone to read.

I was foolish, but what happened was NOT Cool.

Can I add how Stupendously creepy it is that you imply that you were at both tweet meets, but posted that comment anonymously? No Nickname?

Amber said...

This is a difficult one for me as I started out full blown identity known. I don't have many readers, so it doesn't really matter that much. But there have been times, especially here in Doha, that I wish I was anonymous. There are things I wish I could say, but because people know who I am and who my children/husband are I have to not share everything I want.

Sorry you were outed. That stinks. Unlike your anonymous contributer, I do feel that certain discretion is to be expected at meets like the ones you is a disappointment that they weren't more careful and it sounds like the 'outer' might have done it on purpose. People are spiteful.

What is Blog Her? By the way, I've always wanted to meet you and a few other bloggers and one of the reasons is because you speak your mind. Which is something I can't always do because my identity is not hidden.

Angry In Oman said...

Being outed really sucks, confidentiality should be implied *especially* when you use nicknames for people, and the person who outed you *knows* that.


Anonymous said...

Hi, it would appear that we have both shared the same experience of the working 'culture' of Zubair.