Sunday, March 06, 2011

It's a small world

I live in a small New England town - the kind of place where you have to be careful what you say about anyone because there are days when it seems like everyone knows everyone else. All kinds of people that you wouldn't think would know each other, do. They went to school together, or they are related by marriage, or they work(ed) together. It's actually one of the reasons I like living here. I wouldn't want to live in a city where, I'm told, people often don't even know who their neighbors are.

The world can be small like this New England town too.  I was once working at a school where we had an exchange teacher from Europe for a year. She had a friend from the UK come to visit, and somehow we figured out that the friend had been my parents' neighbor 30 years earlier when they were working in Turkey and I was a baby!

Last week, Danielle of brit abroad in USA and I figured out that not only did we grow up in the same corner of the UK, but in the same town and a few houses apart on the same street! Given the efforts most bloggers make to preserve their anonymity, it's really pretty amazing that our conversation got that far. Once we had made that connection, I am sure Danielle suddenly worried if I knew her older sister who has been so unpleasant to her. Fortunately, I don't - in fact, given that Danielle is younger than me, and her sister is older, I didn't know either of them when we lived on the same street.

It's a good lesson in how, although we may try to hide behind a blog name, in the end we are not as anonymous as we would like to think. We give things away about ourselves with every post. Some bloggers, in addition to using a pen name and being careful about what they say, choose not to make their email address public or use a special email address for their blog. DO NOT assume that your 'real' email address will stay private though. If you have associated it with your blog by having copies of comments sent to it rather than the one on your blog, you run the risk of having that email address exposed. I am assuming that if you have created an email address to go with your blog (as I have) then that's the one you would prefer the world of strangers out there to know.

In the last week, pretty much all the Blogger blogs I have posted on have 'bounced' my comments back to me. I say 'bounced' because that's the email message I got, even though my comment appeared just fine on the blog. I've been getting messages from with the subject line Delivery Status Notification (Failure), and the message
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:
followed by the email address. In many cases, that address is NOT the email address that is posted publicly on the blogger's website, but one that is clearly a more personal one. (i.e. '' or '' instead of '') So, if you want to keep that more personal email address private, don't have comments forwarded to it! Otherwise you may find the world becoming smaller than you would like as people figure out more about you than you had intended!

1 comment:

Expat mum said...

Have to say though, that the "small world" concept happens all the time in Chicago as a lot of people grew up around here and never left.
Only yesterday I commented on a friends photo on FB, then recognised someone else that I knew commenting on it. I was wondering how they knew each other and turns out they're sisters-in-law!

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