My door is open: why I'm pretty public online about my home

By on Mar 19th

Rockethaus is pretty public. I run two blogs dealing specifically with homes, I tweet pretty much all the time, and I am also a normal Young Professional living in America. A LOT of my life happens online, publicly, where other people have access to it, even people I don't know terribly well. We talk about parties, problems, events, and projects, and we do a lot of it completely in the open. My mom would argue that it's dangerous for people to know where I live and what my habits are, but I prefer to think it's part of community building.

I definitely err on the side of too-little-privacy compared to most other people. I like to skirt the border of personal privacy; I'm not terribly concerned if I fall into an overshare. Maybe I'm treating life a little too much like a big experimentation, but I've enjoyed the community I've found this way. It's hard to make friends with someone who won't share.

When I post about my house online, I do consider who will see the post, when, and through what service. FourSquare, Instagram, and Twitter are more likely to be seen by many people immediately than are posts on Tumblr or Offbeat Home. Some privacy is only important in the moment — I don't care NOW that you know where I was LAST week, so I can share photos of the party I went to on Flickr. But I might not choose to tweet that I'm leaving on a jet plane, unless I hope to come home to a burgled house. (I also try to be careful not to announce things like HEY Y'ALL LOOKIT ALL MY FANCY E-LECTRONICS! so that I can relax on vacation.)

I want to share SOME of this info, though, because I like the idea of extending my online community into the real world. I've been fostering online friends since my first chatroom in 1996. I got to know my husband on ICQ. Most of my friends are online. I have more conversations with my best friend on Google Chat than in real life. And many of the people I know online I will never ever meet but I feel are a very real part of my social cohort. I think of us as living together in a giant small town. IN THE FUTURE.

Stepping across that boundary between "real life community" and "digital community" means putting a lot of trust in strangers in general, even in small ways. I have to assume that when I go to write for the internet I am not going to be met with a wall of hate comments — otherwise I wouldn't do it. Expecting to get through a day without insult is a pretty basic tenet of trust that gets taken for granted in the real world — and that can happen on the internet, but takes more troll-vigilance.

In fact, I've found deeper pools of trust in the digital community than I have IRL. Like so many people my age, we've barely met any of our neighbors EVER, for a variety of reasons, so we haven't gone to neighborhood meetings with them, bought Girl Scout Cookies from them, or helped them with a repair.

But online, in my digital community, I've seen people give and help, and touch each other in huge, moving ways. People they will NEVER MEET. The online city enables us to teach, help, and protect each other from afar.

I think these pokes at the boundary of digital privacy have been helping me find space in the electronic world for my physically-based community. Linking the two makes it so I can find a ride home from the mechanic's on Twitter, or crowdsource a plan to protect my seedlings from frost with other people in my area and, really? Now that I'm friends with my across-the-street neighbors on Facebook, I do feel a little bit safer at night.

What is the MOST you will share online? Is your community stronger on social media or on the street?

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About Cat Rocketship

I was the Managing Editor of Offbeat Home for a year and a half. I have a rich Internet life and also a pretty good real life. Hobbies include D&D, Twitter, and working on making our household more self-reliant. I also draw things.