Where to start with the Food for Thought topic of privacy this week? The fact that our every move around towns and cities, in pubs, shops and restaurant are monitored. That our digital habits are monitored to the extent that we receive adverts on our phones for things mentioned in passing. Or being part of a sex positive, open community that guards its privacy. And that’s without mentioning the debate in my own head about privacy vs being out there.
We’re constantly being watched
I noticed last weekend that our regular pub has (at least) two cctv cameras. One points towards the bar area and the other in the newly refurbished lounge. The latter is used for events. Hmm I thought, even here I’m being watched and not just by the staff.
We’re used to the cameras on the roads and in public spaces. Yes, they can be used to catch people up to no good, but they are there and they are watching.
One of our neighbours is obsessed that people turn in the area in front of their house. It’s not even a private driveway but they’ve put up signs staying Private Keep Out. We overheard the guy telling a driver who had missed the sign that they would be on cctv and if they did it again they would be prosecuted. For a while we thought they really had cameras, but they haven’t. However I was worried for a while that the camera was trained straight towards our house. It turned out to be a central heating flue. Still their behaviour gives us hours of amusement.
The evils of google (other search engines exist and there are other evils)
This morning I ordered some new clothes online. Socks and a top from my favourite place for socks. Minutes later I had adverts for that company on my facebook timeline. Tell you what Facebook, I just bought from this company, I need no adverts. I looked at a planner online the other day and on my Instagram I had a picture of the planner with a message. ‘We saw you looked at our planner, why not complete your purchase’. No thanks.
Before now we’ve been discussing a place, activity or potential purchase and next one of us gets an unsolicited email or advert somewhere. What the fuck? So it’s clear that we’re being watched (through digital algorithms or something) at home as well as out of it.
But to be honest I’m not ready to make all my movements secret just yet. Though of course I’m in disguise right now. True, I’m not wearing a moustache and dark glasses but I am hiding my true identity while in plain site on my blog.
The issue of privacy in the sex blogging / kink community
Many people in this community use an alias, some of the names are very clever. So much so that you don’t always know that isn’t their real name. Many people post photos of themselves but never show their face. Or at least show it in such a way that you would pass them in the street. I know people in person from munches, kink events and of course Eroticon and don’t know their real names. Some I’ve been told their real first names, but can’t remember and still call them by their aliases. I’m not sure it matters. So long as the person you portray in that world is you, it doesn’t matter what you call yourself.
Not too long ago the blogging community was stung by someone who used an alias but also invented a whole life. As their lies unravelled it wasn’t the fact that we didn’t know their real name that hurt. But that the person had destroyed the trust of the community. Equally there are plenty of fake Dom / Dommes online. People who lure the vulnerable into their lair and then inflict abuse. Privacy is important but can come with at a price.
Being out but private about it
At the beginning of this journey I guarded my privacy. My blog was known about by no one I knew. This was partly because of the nature of what I was doing (kinky stuff with a new man) but mainly because I was married. I was also working in a profession where you could get sacked (at that time) for things posted on the internet. Gradually though things changed. My husband found out about my infidelity (through snooping in my emails) and once I met Master I explored kink in new ways. In 2013 I was made redundant and my relationship with my longterm public sector employer changed for ever. When I worked for them again a year later I cared much less about being sacked. But anyway attitudes have changed (not to kink so much as blogging etc. in general.
So, you can see my face on my blog. My name is Julie and I’m relatively open about myself and my life. But I wouldn’t write or tell people my full name, my surname is not common. I tell people face to face the general area in which I live, but not the address. I discuss my son and family but am pretty vague about them and would never post photos of them on my blog. For one thing it would be difficult to get consent since I don’t want them to know about it. In an ideal world I’d be open to family and friends about our lifestyle. But the world isn’t ideal and I just know they wouldn’t understand. But also, it’s our business and I don’t want to mix up those aspects of my life.
Recently I started my new blog Food and Fitness for Health. It’s vanilla and about the challenge of getting myself healthier and fitter. I had the hunch that others might use if as a resource and wanted to keep it separate from this blog. I have friends who would be great contributors but I have stopped at the point of telling anyone. But I just know (or have a hunch) that it would lead to being outed. So I’m in a quandary.
I’ve already linked this blog with them by the Food Matters and Wicked Wednesday memes. But actually in order to get it up and running I do need to do so. I need this community to help give some traction. So, I’ll continue to sit on the fence about telling people and instead let them come to me.
So you see, I’m out but in a private way. Also though I’m not convinced that in the end it’s individuals we should be scared of. Because the large social media and other tech companies that are tracking us and already know all of our names. Fake and fiction. So I get on with life and try not to worry about what might happen if my son found out I am MPB Julie and not just plain mum.