Lately, I have been pondering the concept of Legacy.
Now, Merriam-Webster defines “Legacy” as
1. a gift by will especially of money or other personal property : bequest
2. something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past
Given that I am currently about as broke as a joke, it’s safe to say that it’s not so much the first definition that is captivating my thoughts this evening. It’s #2 that is more of what I am focusing on… Specifically, a concept of Legacy that may already exist (but if not I TOTALLY claim it): our Internet Legacy. Ours, meaning on a microcosmic scale.
What the hell do I even mean by “Internet legacy” ? I suppose our “Online selves and lives, as defined through various social media tools and blogs.” There are our physical lives and selves, and then there our online selves. A separate identity, most often. Perhaps a reflection of only certain fragments. Perhaps only the edited version. But still, a version nonetheless. A record.
I’ve maintained an online version of myself—sometimes several—in a desultory fashion since the late summer of 2001. LiveJournal was my vehicle for expression for a decent bit of time, up until about 2006. Then I graduated and moved, and began blogging via wordpress and blogger, and MySpace and Facebook happened. And then YouTube and Twitter and Instagram and so on and so on and so on.
Looking back, I suppose my Internet legacy is like my real legacy—scattered, messy, unfocused. There have been a few reasons for this plaguing me throughout the years: first, a self-consciousness that I can’t quite shake; the feeling that my words are inconsequential, prosaic, and even pompous-sounding. Second, a fear that one day I might “live out loud” too much, say the wrong thing, and get myself into hot water at work or damage future job prospects. So to remedy the first, every now and then I would “transform” my online self by taking on a new blog platform or handle. (Incidentally, I’m totally old enough now to know that moving your digs doesn’t change your identity, but it also totally doesn’t stop me from trying.) To remedy the second, I have gone to convoluted and probably ineffective lengths to not specify where I work, to not disclose my last name, so on and so forth. For a lot of reasons, I don’t think that works too well.
I find myself, once more, at a crossroads in my Online Life. (Perhaps, because I am at a crossroads in my Real Life as well?) I don’t want to abandon my Online Legacy—countless times I have found myself blessing Past Me for documenting what I thought was quotidian and boring nonsense—but at the same time, I do want to clean it up, transform it, get it focused and launched on the road that I want it to be on.
Maybe it means going back to basics—going back to where it all started.