Over the past year I have been so, so careful to keep my two digital lives separate. I didn’t use the same accounts, didn’t sign up for anything using the same e-mails, didn’t Follow myself or Retweet myself or ally with myself in Candy Crush.
Then, last week I made a stupid error.
It was completely a convenience thing. As I could never be sure which Facebook profile I would be logged into at any given time or from any given device, I decided to make both His account and my account Page administrators for the TransSci Facebook Page. Facebook told me that in order for one account to give a second account Admin privileges, the two accounts needed to be Friends.
And that was the fatal mistake.
It’s a well known secret that anyone using Facebook just chooses to ignore, sort of like smokers choose to smoke despite the big WARNING label on the side. Maybe Facebook needs one of those: WARNING: Facebook will share anything about you with anyone else on Facebook whenever it thinks it can help Facebook make a buck.
One way Facebook does this is by getting people to Friend, each other, of course, so that Facebook can cross-promote and use your Shares in advertising and try to better target your spending. And all it takes is ONE FRIEND to expose you to people you don’t even know … or to expose your secrets to friends who don’t know about you.
That happened on Friday night, when a friend from His account requested friending with my Alison account.
My first thought was panic! Now, this is a person I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, and I am thinner AND less bearded AND wearing more makeup in the photo than I was the last time we met in person. Yet somehow he recognized me. He must have. Why else would a “complete stranger” friend Alison unless I showed up as one of those stupid “You have one mutual friend” connection suggestions?
I have always hated that feature. No, Facebook, I do not know everyone who just happens to be friends with one of my friends. If I have two or three or more mutual friends, sure; but I get so many random strangers offered to me on the “One mutual friend” list. I don’t friend them; I know I don’t know them, so I ignore them and carry on. But either this friend is the type to friend randomly … or he recognized me anyway He didn’t contact my Him account, didn’t send a “Hey, what’s this?” message to my Alison account.
Ultimately, I refused the request without comment. But during my anxiety, I also accepted a friend request of Robin, my ex, who was helping me not freak out over all this. And that sealed the deal. Now, friends of ours have two mutual friends! By the next morning, most of the people in my real life who know about me had gotten the suggestion, seen the picture, and sent me friend requests because they knew immediately it was me. I guess I don’t disguise myself well.
Let’s be clear: I am not mad at the people in my life who chose to Friend this new me. They are people who know me and care about me, and I’m not going to pretend like this isn’t me just because the secret is out. In fact, it gives me an excuse to start letting them know the real me.
At this point, I haven’t hastened things along. I haven’t publicly posted anything on His account, I haven’t made a “coming out post,” I haven’t actively friended anyone. I’m just going to let this happen. Maybe it will spread by osmosis; maybe it will die off and no one else will recognize me; maybe no one will care. I could scorch the earth — kill my Fb account and pretend like nothing happened — but I just don’t want to do that. I’m kind of tired of hiding.
This was going to happen sometime. I just wasn’t allowed to choose when, thanks to the profit-driven algorithms of Facebook. Sigh …