Being (Semi) Anonymous
Alright, let’s start out with some cliches. 1) Our society is becoming more connected than ever before and 2) Our definition of the word “privacy” is changing at an accelerated rate. Especially with our phones, computers and gaming devices trying to integrate just about every social application they can, what’s “private” to my parent’s and grandparent’s generations is totally different than what I might consider private.
What does this have to do with blogging in Japan? Well, while people in my generation may be more willing to share things online, I think an important distinction is to also add that these sorts of people are Americans my age. The opposite could be said about Japan.
While it’s fascinating to see such a rapid increase in social media use in Japan, the fact that, at the same time, people are seemingly becoming more reluctant to actually using it for its created intentions.
I say this because I see a large amount of incoming JETs posting exactly where they are going to be placed (right down to the google street view), what school they will be working at and every little detail about their location. While this may be fine for some, I’ve seen (and read from other blogs) that it can turn around to bite them in the ass. When you’re dealing with a society that is, more generally, protective of their information, sometimes my writing could be viewed as “too open” for some people.
And this especially goes with kids. I remember during my first study abroad trip when we were required to visit a local elementary school that the international students were strictly forbidden to take any of the photos of the kids and especially forbidden putting online (whether it be Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, whatever). In fact, it wasn’t all that uncommon to see, if people did take photos of kids and put them on Facebook, to cover their faces with a random assortment of shapes. Especially going into a job that primarily works with youngsters, certain (and more) personal precautions will have to be implemented.
This means most of my anecdotes about my job will come in the form of nicknames and text stories. I’ve read some previous JET blogs where putting up the school’s/student’s likeliness (no matter how vague) had come back to haunt them. Now, of course you’ll know where I’m at in more general terms (Awaji Island! But we’ll get into that later), but I won’t ever go into super specifics, such as school teacher names. It’s not that I’m afraid anyone I might (and will most likely) talk about will happen across this blog, rather it’s trying to avoid a conflict of information rights and privacy in a society that is so concerned about the topic.
While I will attempt to be discrete, I still want this blog to be something I can properly have my name on. Of course, if I write an article about a specific person or organization I’m going to try to use their names as much as possible. However, I, and everyone one that writes a JET blog, knows some of the most interesting stuff is the things that come out of the classroom. While I may have to dance around specifics, I surely don’t want to leave out what will become a large portion of my life.