Differences between your online persona and your IRL persona?

The blogosphere (including us) has recently been discussing how blogs are only a specific persona that the blogger shows (or curates, depending on your beliefs about the nature of truth and perception and personality).

That got us thinking about how we differ IRL vs. our blog personas.  We thought we’d share some of the differences.

I am a lot nicer IRL.  A LOT.  My snark only comes out with anonymity.  I may think things IRL but I don’t say things unless I can say something nice.  #2, however: I think I might actually be nicer on this blog than IRL.

I’m also more introverted IRL.  I’ve done meetups with groups of forum people and they are surprised that I’m quiet at the dinner table even though I’m super chatty online.  (This same thing isn’t true with people I know well IRL or when I’m at a conference on topics I’m an expert on– I’m perfectly chatty with subject matter I feel comfortable with.)  #2 is super-introverted all the time and prefers online communication.  Or books.

I’m less annoyed about giving an impromptu lecture on my subject matter of expertise IRL than online.  Online it often feels like someone should be paying me to argue with them.  (I know it may seem like this isn’t possible, but I promise, I lecture a LOT IRL.)

What don’t I share with you?  Mostly boring stuff.  I only online share things if I find them interesting and/or funny.  I also try not to share things that would hurt other people if our blog and real identities became front page news.

I’m often not as witty because online you only get the good stuff, not the stuff that failed at being funny or brilliant (at least IMO).

Who is the real us?  Well, what is reality anyway?

How do your IRL and online personas differ?  Who is the real you?

Why I want to make enough money to support myself (and my family) even though I’m a woman with a high earning husband

I mean, besides that I like having lots of money and enjoy my career.  Which I do.  I love having 2x DH’s salary instead of 1x.  But we could totally live on 1x.  I just don’t want to.  And I’m sure after a while I would start writing novels or taking over local non-profits or something.

There’s been a couple of recent articles going around about women making sure they only pick high earning potential husbands.  (“It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man…” to quote Marilyn Monroe’s character in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.)  Money matters because you’ll want to stay home with your kids, they say.  Or you’ll want to live a better life than you can on your income alone.  So don’t pick the 40K/year guy, pick the 100K/year guy with upward mobility potential.

Part of it is that I do not ever want to be in a situation in which I have to scramble.  I don’t want to be a 50 year old widow (or divorcee) having to go back into the labor market after an extended absence.  We have life insurance, but getting life insurance that would provide me with true security in a situation in which I could not find a fantastic job after DH’s demise forced me to work again would be a huge drain on just DH’s salary.  And I have complete trust in DH, but if I were married to any other person, that looming potential of being divorced or trapped in a horrible marriage because I needed the money would just be awful.  I never want to be helpless or trapped, especially with children depending on me.

The second reason is not about me.  My BIL is trapped in his current job and his current career trajectory because he has a SAHM wife and two kids.  He has to always make the safe choice.  The one that keeps him employed.  He needs to stay with his company because it’s union and he’s no longer last in/first out.  Contrast that with DH.  When he didn’t like his job he was able to take unpaid leave at first and to just quit without another one lined up later.  He was able to explore working at a start-up and then on his own company and then compare competing job offers that paid 2x as his “safe” job.  Eventually we might have needed him to bring in his own money so as to keep the stress off me (for example, me being on half pay this year in an expensive city would have been a lot more difficult to pull off!), but he had plenty of time to explore different options and was able to wait for one that made him really happy.  If/when this job evaporates, he will be able to go through the process of finding a job he likes again.

A third reason that doesn’t apply to me (but might if I had a husband who felt money more) is that for most people, money is power.  And that means that the person who brings in the money is the one who gets more say in how things turn out in the household.  He (and it’s usually he) gets to say what luxuries get bought, what the household allowance is, and so on.  And for the few months when I was the sole breadwinner, DH did take on more of the household responsibilities (which was nice for me!).  Being married to someone who greatly out-earns you can mean golden handcuffs.  I am much happier having an equal marriage.  And I might be willing to exchange money for power if I had to, that is, me being the one making more and having more say, but not so much the other way around.  (I suspect though that this gets back to point one– I’d rather be unmarried than to be in a bad relationship, but for that, I still need to make my own money!)  (Note that since DH doesn’t really feel money, he could make many x as me and we would still have equal bargaining power, but that isn’t true for every one.)

That’s not to say I want to be married to someone who lies around the house and plays video games all day.  But because I make money, I can value productivity more in a partner than the actual cash he is bringing in.  I would rather have DH produce value than be a hedge fund manager making 5x what he’s making right now (though I suppose if that were the case we could be more active with charity!)  And I’d rather be alone than married to someone who wasn’t making the world a better place.

If I made less money, we’d need to be more frugal, but part of why I chose the profession I chose was because of its potential for income and financial security.  And we’ve saved a lot as a couple to allow ourselves more freedom in the future.  Perhaps if I was less skilled and/or scared of math I might not have the luxury of looking for a productive husband (or having no husband at all!) rather than a high income one.  Caring only about love is a luxury that having enough money makes possible.  Still, I don’t think that finding a prince to rescue me would be the direction my thoughts would go.  I know how to be frugal (partly because great swaths of my childhood had my mom supporting the four of us on less than what a high school teacher makes) and I have ambition.

Of course, I married a guy who had virtually no income in the years we were dating before marriage because we were still in high school and college.  (And who had very little income during the first years of our marriage because we were in graduate school.)  I have no idea what I would be looking for if I, heaven forbid, had to go on the dating market as an actual adult.  But I would still want to keep my career and my income, not just because I love it or just for the money, but because I don’t want to give up that freedom and power.

So how about you?  How do you balance the importance of your salary with the importance of your partner’s?

Is “everybody sucks/has crappy lives/etc.” actually helpful for people who are having difficulties?

One of the things I’ve noticed on blogs/fora where the author is having trouble with marriage or kids or work, or what have you, is that often someone in the comments will say, “Oh, everyone’s life is like that.  We’re all miserable/have terrible husbands/rotten kids/awful bosses.  You’re normal.  That’s normal.  Anybody who says differently is a lying liar who lies.”

And this is provided as comfort.

Does it work?

Honestly for me, if I were in a bad situation and got that comment and truly believed it, I might end up being all, “why bother?”  If life is going to nasty brutish and short what’s the point?  Why continue living or striving?  Why not just give up?

I’m glad I don’t believe it.  I’m glad I believe that life can be better.  That marriages can be functional instead of dysfunctional.  That kids can be helped.  That there are good job environments out there if the current one is bad.  I’m not an optimist, but I am optimistic that if I work hard to change things, life can get better.  Maybe not the way I would most prefer, but better than a horrible situation.

The big question though is:  Does this kind of comforting actually provide comfort?  Do people feel better when they’re in a crappy situation and someone comes along and says yeah, all situations are crappy.  (Not, mind you, “it’s not just you” but the more inclusive, “it’s everybody.”)

What does the research say?  It is true that people are happier (and healthier) when they’re at the top of a distribution and can point to people with crappy lives.  This may be why the Koch brothers and others in the 1% of 1% of 1% are trying to destroy America. Big income disparities make people on the top happier than do little income disparities.

But I don’t think it has to be that way.  You’ve got people like Gates trying to bring the bottom up, trying to decrease the income differential.

Research also notes that people who satisfice– who set an external absolute level target– are happier than people who try to optimize.  Maybe if you’re focused on comparisons with others, you’re happiest on top, but maybe you’re happier still if you’re not comparing yourself with others at all.

I don’t know the research on this, but my guess is that it is best to focus on absolute levels rather than relative differences.  Comparing yourself to other people is a sure way to misery because someone will always be better on any level.  (And it must be lonely at the top.)  Instead, compare yourself now to the yourself from before and reach for the yourself that you want to be.

And it’s best if you know that that life that you want to have is actually achievable.  And it’s more likely to to be achievable if someone else is already achieving it.  Because it’s a big world out there, and it would be pretty difficult to be the first person to have a happy marriage, great kids, or a fulfilling job if that had so far eluded the entire world’s population throughout time.

I almost tagged this with deliberately controversial, but I wasn’t sure that it fit (since this is one of those things where there’s so much potential for individual variation), so I stuck with debatable.  Still looking forward to discussion!

What do you think?  Does being told that everybody has your problem (whatever your problem is) provide comfort?  Does it provide despair?  What do you prefer as responses ?

Do you request passwords to pw protected blogs?

Over the years, a number of the blogs we used to enjoy have become password protected.  Usually because some horrible troll has threatened to “out” the woman who has been talking pseudonymously about her job, sometimes because there’s a vicious anonymous troll stalking or harassing the woman, and sometimes because the blogger (of either gender)’s children are growing up and password protecting allows for more privacy while journaling.

Often before going behind the veil, the blogger will invite the audience to email for a password to the blog.  Or sometimes there will be an email invitation when you get to the “This blog is password protected” stage.

And we have never asked for a password.  Even for blogs we really enjoyed, even for commenters who used to be regulars (who we miss and think of fondly when perusing the comments in our archives).

Why not?  A combination of laziness and feeling as if we’re not enough value added to be worthwhile to the blogger.  Sure, I want to know what happened and how their stories are going moving forward.  I’m interested in the professional situation or debt repayment or even just pretty crafts.  But there’s too many passwords to remember.  Too many blogs to read.  And a faint belief that our voice is either uninteresting (“Nice!”) or vaguely irritating to the blogger who is seeking the password protection.

Heck we never even asked Dr. Crazy for her new digs– we figure she’ll either start showing up on blogrolls or she won’t.  In the mean time, we’ll imagine she’s found Mr. Right and is having a great time as a tenured full professor, living life to the fullest outside of the virtual community.

What about you?  Do you read any password protected blogs?  What would it take for you to request a password?

Read the book first or watch the movie first?

While watching old vlogbrothers videos, I found out they have a campaign to “read the book first“, that is you should read the book before watching the movie.

The book is (almost always) better than the movie… I think everyone can agree on that.  It’s an almost universal truth with only enough exceptions that they prove the rule.

Because most people prefer pleasure to increase over time rather than decrease, it makes sense to save the best for last.  Watch the movie.  Then read the book.

What about spoilers?  I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like surprises, so I’m fine with spoilers.  I love wikipedia so much because I can read plot synopses before deciding to watch a show.  If you really love to be surprised, then yeah, you should probably read the book first, though keep in mind that the movie often deviates substantially from the book for cinematic reasons, so you might not be as spoilered as you think you are.

#2 says:  The correct answer is: read the book first and watch the movie never.  The movie is NEVER as good as what’s in my head when I read!  It’s not worth it.

There, solved that for ya.

#1 disagrees.  CASE IN POINT:  The Princess Bride.  YES, the book is better, but the movie is AMAZEBALLS.  Watch the movie first, then cherish the book.  Similarly, Captain Blood.  Delightful movie with Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHaviland.  Even better book (free on kindle!).  Both are worth the experience.  And then there are fantastic adaptations, think Clueless based on Emma.  Same plot, different experiences.

Obviously some movies suck and aren’t worth watching ever even though the book is good (I’m looking at you, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh).  But there are a lot of excellent movies adapted from excellent books.  Experience both!

What about you?  Which first?

Making friends as a professor or as an adult

One of the problems with being a young untenured sort of person is that, outside of your department, the majority of people you meet your age are graduate students.  Graduate students have this unfortunate tendency to graduate and LEAVE.

You can be friends with colleagues, but you can’t tell them too much before tenure.  And sometimes if you get too close you realize they’re not only crazy but you have to work with them for potentially the next SIXTY YEARS.  So a little distance with most of them can be nice.

If you have kids, you will end up socializing a lot with parents of other kids, but a lot of times even though your kids may be able to discuss Minecraft for hours, you actually have little to nothing in common with them.  Of course, if you’re not extroverted, then having kids and kids having activities uses up all your people time and you’re just kind of stuck not really wanting to talk to anybody else.  (Hopefully you enjoy spending time with your family!)

If you live in a thriving metropolis, you can meet people with your interests online or through meet-ups.  Even in smaller towns you can be active in interest groups.  Maybe politics.  Maybe school board.  Maybe board-games.  If your hobbies and interests go more in the direction of watching bad tv and reading novels, that’s not going to work so well.  (Recall that book clubs seem like *work* to many academics.)

In the end, after my new friends left and graduated, and I found the right amount of closeness/distance with colleagues, and I split children’s activities with DH, most of my new friends are conference buddies.  I see and socialize with people I like and enjoy talking with (small-talk even!) a few times a year.  Sometimes we email in between, sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes we miss each other for a year or two or three, sometimes we see each other several months in a row.  Sometimes we make time to have meals, sometimes we just chat at 10 min breaks.  It’s odd having closer friends that I travel and see than I have in my own home town, but I bet I’m not alone in this.

Have you made friends as an adult?  How have you gone about it?  Do you wish you had more or are you happy with what you have?

Why my internet searching is no good for conversations in polite company

I was having a little pillow talk with DH about how I suck these days at making polite small-talk (this may or may not have been related to spending time with his extended family).

He was all, you’d think with that blog and all that time you spend on the internets you’d have plenty of topics of conversation.

And I was all, we-lllll, not really.

I mean, what do we talk about on the blog?

Feminism.  Nope.  Not in polite company.

Racism.  Nope.  Ditto.

Bragging about kids.  Not with his family (who have their own kids), not at toddler birthday parties, no siree.  Not a chance.

Money.  I wish.  I do get to talk about this with DH’s father, but for the most part this is not a topic of conversation to bring up with DH’s family because we’re doing really well and they don’t want any suggestions.  They really don’t.  Similarly taboo at toddler parties.  Back when we did parties in cities people would ask me about personal finance, investing, and/or the economy once they found out I was an economist, but that hasn’t happened in years.  Maybe because they know they’ll see me again and don’t want to talk about their own finances?  Or maybe because nobody wants to go near talking about politics in polite company (for good reason) in a polarized red-purple state.

There’s still food.  I can totally talk about food.  That’s like the one conversation I was able to participate in over break at DH’s (though I had several opportunities to discuss toddler poop, but chose not to– that’s all on me).  Food is what I talk about when I have to make conversation with a job candidate whose area of research I have no knowledge of.  I like food.  Food is awesome.

Books… I don’t normally talk about books because I sort of only read Spec Fic (and recently I’ve added regency romance).  It’s always exciting when I find out someone else is a Spec Fic reader, but I’ve had work colleagues I’ve known for years and it’s only recently that one of us has come out as a science fiction/fantasy reader.  That’s always exciting, but it’s something one doesn’t talk about.  I recently found out that my RA also comfort reads Georgette Heyer.  But romance reading is something one talks about even less than fantasy!  Most people seem to discuss book club books in polite company and I really don’t read or enjoy them.

In truly nerdy company I used to be able to discuss anime, but nobody watches it and what with the kids and all I don’t really have time to either.  (Though DH and I have been slowly making our way through the third season of Natsume Yujincho.  Apparently if you stop watching anime for a while new seasons come out!)

Interestingly, with the exception of anime, these are all topics I can and do discuss with my family on a regular basis, with politics added as an additional topic when my extended family gets together.  Families are all so very different.

Once the topic of weather has been completely exhausted, I’m a pretty dull person in polite company.  That’s why we have the blog.

What do you talk about when you make small-talk?  Is it anything at all like what you talk about on the internets?  Where do you get topics of IRL conversation?

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