Category Archives: privacy vs. authenticity and identity

IDENTITY AND AUTHENTICITY

What happens when one person’s right to privacy trespasses on another person’s right to their own identity and authenticity?

Today I received one of the most upsetting phone calls of my life.

A local woman, whose husband has been in the news lately, called to tearfully ask me why I would ever write such terrible things about her on a public forum.

I was totally bewildered. I asked for more details and found the disturbing situation:

Someone had posted insulting, derogatory and hurtful personal comments about this woman and her family. Then they’d linked their pseudonym (“sad”) to a blog article I wrote in May 2010.

To the casual observer, it might be construed that I had also written those awful comments.

Let me state here and now:

I did not write the comments written by “sad” on that website. (Actually, searching for those comments was the first time I’ve even visited that site.)

I do not know who did.

I hope to find out someday, and I will do my best to do that.

But….how do I prove I didn’t do such a sleazy thing?

I’m in the process now of talking to my lawyer and our local newspaper. Turns out not much can be done, legally. But there is a story here, maybe several, and I can only hope The Keene Sentinel will take on this complex story of privacy, identity and authenticity.

We worry so much about our privacy in the digital age. We feel strongly that we should be able to be anonymous sometimes–to protect our jobs, perhaps, or to offer an opinion or insight while distancing ourselves from our professional ethics or…whatever. I’m not well-versed on this. There are circumstances that allow anonymity, and often for very good reasons.

But what hits me hard today is, this is actually a matter of identity and authenticity.

The anonymous poster wanted to express his crude opinions in a way to protect his own reputation and profession. But in doing so, he maligned mine.

Anyone who knows my writing (and I’ve been blogging since 2002) knows how I operate. I write with as much truth, honesty and integrity as possible. I would never have written the awful things that “sad” (pun intended) person wrote. I would never have hidden behind a pseudonym. I would never have implied someone else said them.

This person’s “right” (not sure, but they felt they had that right) to be anonymous trespassed on my right to my identity and my authenticity–a reputation I’ve built and maintained all my life.

It’s frightening to think this person could take that away in a few minutes of venomous spurting.

It’s upsetting this woman would (understandably) conclude that I could write such things.

Frankly, it pisses me off I have to spend so much time this morning scrambling to defend my reputation.

And since we’re having dinner tonight with our family lawyer, I anticipate a lively discussion on one person’s right to privacy vs. another person’s right to their personal and professional identity and authenticity.

Stay tuned–“lively” is an understatement!

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WHAT ARE YOU CALLING?

IMPORTANT! On 9/2/2010, an anonymous poster on a local website published derogatory, insulting and personal comments under a pseudonym. They then linked their pseudonym-signature to this article.

It would be easy for a casual reader to assume I wrote those comments.

I did not write those comments, and I do not know who did.

I am extremely upset that someone, to hide their own ugly act, then impugned and sullied my professional integrity and reputation.

Regular readers will know I have never, ever written anything as hurtful and unkind as that unknown poster did.

You may see my thoughts on this incident here.

We now return to Luann’s regularly scheduled post for today…..

What is it you really want in your life?

A local lawyer was in the news recently, for allegedly shortchanging the interests of his client in order to line his own pockets.

Soon after the story broke, we walked by his office, a building that sits prominently on our Central Square in downtown Keene.

We saw the strangest sign on the building. It read something like this:

$$ John Doe Law $$

We’ve walked by that sign several times a day for years now, and never noticed the dollar signs used as brackets til then.

Obviously, money was very, very important to this man–and/or his clients.

We all get caught up in money. I do. You do. Can’t live without it, right?

And yet….

What is it about money that we want it so badly? That we call for it so passionately, so persistently?

And is money what we really want?

What we really want is what money represents. Security–knowing we’re prepared if something goes horribly wrong. A roof over our head, preferably one that doesn’t leak. Food on the table. Maybe really, really nice food on the table. Travel. Adventure. Education.

But if these tangibles and intangibles are the things we really want, why do we focus so completely on the money?

What am I calling for in my life?

What happens if I call for money, call for it more powerfully than for anything else??

I know money is a means to an end. In the case of this lawyer, however, it may be that the pursuit of money, over the best interests of his client, became the end. The end of his career. The end of his reputation in this community. And probably the end of a whole lot more.

What I’m thinking about today is not how evil money is. It’s not. But I’m thinking about what money represents to me.

I’m wondering if some of those things, maybe I already have ‘em.

And thinking maybe there are other ways to get the ones I don’t.

What do you intend to call for in your life?

P.S. A dear friend in the biz once wrote me to say, “You’re one of the few craftspeople I know who evaluates their success in many other ways besides money. I like that.” I still treasure that remark.

P.P.S. Just in case you’re thinking I’m trying to get nominated for sainthood here (ho ho!….NOT!), let me say I’m expecting a visit this afternoon from an African bead trader.

And I never say no to African trade beads.

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