I have this theory that everyone is quite strange in some way; you just have to find what it is. That straight-laced person you work with may seem completely together and totally professional, at work, but then you bump into at the supermarket and see them asking the deli guy when exactly the ham was sliced in a slightly hysterical sort of way; or see them screaming at their children in the street; or see them at an anti-abortion rally or something. And then your perception of them totally changes.
And while, in the real world, people tend to keep those things close to their chests, on the internet people share all sorts of things. And not just in their personal blogs or in forums or whatever, but in their professional arenas.
For instance, the other day while searching for paper-crafting projects, I found this American interior designer who appears to have a thriving business. And right there, on what was essentially the home page to her business site, was this “about”:
I am 26 years old and live in Tulsa, OK. I love Jesus Christ and try to follow him the best I can! I played college basketball at the University of Tulsa and then went on to play one season of professional basketball in Lithuania.
If this was the real world, would that be the first thing that she said to potential clients? No. So WHY PUT IT ON YOUR BUSINESS SITE’S HOME PAGE??
What is it about the internet that makes people act crazy? Why do the normal rules of communication somehow go out the window?
Whenever I think of people’s professional sites being just wrong, I think of this particular journalist who used to write articles for Fairfax on renovating and the home. She went on to write a book on the subject, which had a companion blog. She really knew her topic and was a very engaging writer.
At some point after she finished renovating their home, however, her husband appears to have left her and their two kids. I say “appears” because it’s not like I know her or know what happened; all I know is that suddenly, her blog went without entries for ages and then suddenly became this bizarre, sporadic, rambling thing that didn’t make sense, about how she’d had to sell the house and was stuck in this tiny rental place with her two kids and no partner, and her writing work had dried up, and then suddenly there were incoherent posts about marital infidelity, and cyberstalking your ex, and then entire copied-and-pasted internet chats he’d had with other women (she seems to have hacked some accounts he had); and then posts that seemed to suggest that she’d had a mental breakdown. It all just broke your heart, which is why I still remember it.
This was a while back now and I can’t find the blog up anymore (scarily, I did find someone with the same name and with what looks like the same signature, who is some sort of sex therapist — hopefully she’s not telling people to cyberstalk their exes) — but the rambling point that I’m getting at, is that the internet is REAL. So the boundaries that you have in real life? They still apply. And if I’m ever rich enough to hire an interior designer, I don’t want to know about how they played basketball in Lithuania or love Jesus.