I had my first website beginning in 1997. I’ve been guilty of designing and implementing my own website ever since then. Check out the WayBack Machine if you want to see some hilariously bad examples.
Up until 1999 I thought that I could be Karen Ranney, the Writer and Karen Ranney, the Person on the Internet. Never the twain shall meet. Karen Ranney, the Person, could express opinions, visit political sites and give her two cents, review someone’s book — in other words, be a real human being. Just to be on the safe side, however, I decided to be anonymous whenever possible.
In 1999 all hell broke loose.
I was snarky on a review site about a certain genre of book and it didn’t take any detective work at all to discover that Anonymous was Karen Ranney. Oh, and Karen Ranney wrote books.
What a wakeup call that was.
Not only was I wrong to criticize the genre, which I now love (that often happens in my life), but I was wrong to do it publicly. It could have affected my own book sales. Let me say it again: the author is NEVER as important as the book.
From that moment to this, I don’t put anything out on the web I wouldn’t put on my own site. I never comment without being aware that nothing ever goes away on the Internet.
I know nothing on the web is sacred or private.
I don’t have a personal Facebook page. I don’t accept personal likes or friends on Goodreads. I treat my Twitter account like my business email. I don’t have a personal Google Plus account with circles for family and friends. If I want to communicate with my family and friends I do it through email.
I don’t care how many times a web site tells me my information is protected. I know it isn’t. Therefore, I never put anything out there I wouldn’t want to share with 100,000 other people.
When I first started pirate hunting I didn’t know that my DMCA notices – including phone number and address – would be posted everywhere. Another lesson learned.
Once every three months I go on Google and delete all my web searches for the past three months. Just because.
Whenever I click on an App that wants to use my Facebook page I don’t have a problem. They say, “Share email account?” Sure, why not? It’s public knowledge. “Share friends?” Don’t have any listed on Facebook or anywhere else.
In a sense, I’ve erected a wall around myself. I never post anywhere as Karen Ranney, the Person. To the Internet I’m only Karen Ranney, the Writer. I reveal who I am, both on my blog and on Facebook, but I don’t give my opinions about a lot of things. I’m a person with a great many opinions so sometimes this enforced restraint drives me nuts. It all comes down to my number one rule: my books are more important than me.
How about you?
Do you have two personas? Or do you try to protect your private self on the Internet?