8 Sep 2015

Living In The Digital World

27th October 1960:  A Munich secretary simultaneously typing and making a phone call with the aid of the Beoton telephone amplifier.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Do we have distinct personalities when it comes to living in the digital world?

I am thinking we do.

Not in a contrived or duplicitous way but in a practical way.

It is clear now all we write, whether by phone, by email or on the net can never ever be deleted and this must change the way we think about communication. In the early days of social media, we did not understand the complexities of a world without “delete”. I don’t think it was understood that once posted it would be suspended in eternity, forever.

Every spelling and grammar mistake I have made (there are many) are forever floating as a tribute to never-having-enough-time to check and double check. It could be worse.

The inability to delete is a like a bad argument; the heat of the moment prompts words that cannot be taken back. The one exception is forgiveness. An argument, even when that which should not is said, can be resolved. The digital world is less merciful.

Does knowing that social media is forever change our persona? Do we unconsciously temper our stream of influence or do we alternate our personalities to serve the various channels?

From my point of view I think I have, without knowing.

I am cautious about the personal photographs that end up on Facebook and Instagram streams. It is not that I don’t love personal snaps and a record of happy times but today there is little control. At most events snapping comes before cocktails and “tagging” a matter of course. Social media, unlike traditional photography, hasn’t got the niceties down yet.

Of course it is not a big deal. What’s a happy snap if not happy?

Except the knowledge that we are on show 24/7 could mean we become more mindful and reserved in our enjoyment.

I talk openly here and I hope my true voice is the one you hear but I am aware that once I hit “publish” the conversation is out there forever. I don’t discuss contentious issues so this has never been a concern but perhaps unwittingly this moderates my chat.

I don’t know.

Stealthy is the way of our digital reality. It has crept up. xv

image Keystone Getty

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In This Post:



Mimi Gregor

I am fortunate that I did not have a computer in the “early days” of social media. I did not see the need to have one until around 2004. As for Facebook, I tried it for one week, hated it, and don’t use it. If someone has something to say to me, they know how to get in touch with me. They don’t need to do it in a public arena. And I don’t need to hear every little dilemma they have or see pictures of every meal they eat. TMI.

That being said, I do enjoy reading a few blogs — yours among them — and on a variety of topics. I also enjoy commenting back and forth. It’s sort of a way of thinking out loud; it clarifies what I think and who I am. But even in the most offhand comment, I edit, deliberate over each word, look up spelling and meaning if need be, and reread it several times. I do this because I am aware that what I say will stay out there indefinitely, and I have no idea who may be reading it. I don’t want to appear to be someone who doesn’t know how to speak or write the English language, and I’m afraid that I can be very judgmental about people who respond in “text-speak” or constantly misspell or misuse words.

As for photos ending up online without one’s knowledge, that is a very good reason to always look presentable and do always conduct oneself as one would like to be remembered. Do you want to be remembered as the woman who screamed at the person who dented your fender, or as the woman who calmly exchanged information? We live in a society now where privacy is a thing of the past. It’s no use raging against that; it is what it is. Since we cannot change it, we must adapt to it.


Well said Mimi!
And it is a good reason to make sure we are presentable… This morning I thought just that… I am at the farm in Provence for a lying visit and I needed to race to the supermarket for a few supplies… So tempting to go as I was… After writing this article, I thought better of it… :)
Never know who is in town… :)


I admire you both. Your writing is perfect, everything is well thought. Do I do that? Even if when I try I can’t reach that level so I accept who I am and I hope my audience too.
By the way, I went to the pharmacy with no make up today… hahaha was not that hard! Didn’t pump to my worst enemy, either…
x Nina


Mimi, you have expressed exactly what I would have said. I was on facebook for a few months and I did all the privacy settings but that doesn’t prevent some really daft things being posted by people you know. I also found that without a facial expression it was difficult to judge the tone of the comment. I never upload photos, happy or otherwise I have come across so many people who have had their images hijacked, scares me, what can other people want with them? Vicki, you are a sensible writer and I enjoy your blog and photos but you have every right to be a tad cautious.

Anita Rivera

So true, Vicki. On the one hand, for anyone who is trying to be cautious, blogging especially can be a tool to help us reconsider our words, to edit, to revise. But being in a hurry sometimes prevents us from being a bit more careful. I agree about those personal photos. Very few if not ANY of my photos contain people. This is a tricky age we live in, and I almost feel that if we continue and evolution really does occur over a long period of time, that the human brain just may develop a new space, another facet of thinking that involves the ability to think in the digital sense. But for now, our souls and hearts must learn to navigate this digital, silicon world. What doesn’t change however, is to be CAREFUL in what we say and do!


Yes… I lkie that Anita… another facet of thinking, a digital space..
I need my brain to evolve quickly!

In the early days when I wrote a post I would edit, maybe not my spelling but my thoughts but now I like to write what I feel like on any given day… Sometimes it is hard because a successful blog really needs an editorial calender and I do have one of sorts… but mostly an idea will strike me and I will want to share it. It is the same with my shopping stories… something always triggers them off.. and I make the very cheeky presumption if I am thinking abut it, you might like to as well… :)

Cathy C

Hello Vicki,
If only everyone were as cautious as you! Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have not only given everyone a soapbox on which to stand, they have handed them a microphone. Everyone should think, wait and edit before hitting send, post or even delete (some things just must be said).


I have a couple of personal social media, “rules”..
I never post if I have had any alcohol and when I am writing an email that might be delicate I always sleep on it overnight… re-read it the next day and then decide…
Works for me… :)

david terry

Hey Vicki,
Oh, Good Lord….who among us hasn’t run against the perils of “electronic mail”?. I liked your post, of course, and I immediately thought of this song by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Carrie Newcomer. The title is “Don’t Push ‘Send’..”…….for obvious reasons. I bet your readers will enjoy this one.

This is a story… a very sad tale
Of intrigue and romance and electronic mail
A dangerous form of information, and the perils of instant gratification
How many times did I hit my Mac, want to crawl inside and take the whole thing back?
But its no use, so say it again and again
Don’t push send

Carol wrote about her job’s frustrations
What drove her crazy with aggravation
A list of every person’s faults,
Precise and pithy, wry insults
She sent it off to her best friend
But saw with horror as she pushed send
She hit the keys and began to roar
She’d she’d copied the entire office floor

Don’t push send
Don’t push send
There are things that you just can’t amend
I tell myself again and again
Don’t push send

Katherine wrote a note to her husband Ben
Using their pet names and vowing devotion
She said meet me at home in a little while
I’ll be there waiting, wearing nothing but a smile
But then she got an answer from his great granddad lee.
Saying ” I don’t think that this was meant for me”
It was nice, but I’ll forward it to my great grandson,
it’s been years since anybody called me sugar buns.”

The day was tough the week had really been somethin’
Jane got a message that pushed her buttons
She shot back as if her words were guns
Capitalizing every single one
She should have waited… she should know
E-mail doesn’t mix with merlot
She had to write back as you could guess
Plead e-mail recklessness and PMS

Just stop and think when I’m on the brink
Walk away from your computer
Cause you can bet I will regret
And feel like such a loser

After opposing counsel acted like jerks
Joe got a letter from his law partner at work
He meant to make a changes, cut and paste
But sent it off in his efficient haste
He tried to delete, he tried to stop the note
But the letter had flown and that was all she wrote
The message was polite with professional class
But the subject line still said “what a ass”




I wholeheartedly agree! My newfound interest on photography has made me think twice of putting anything on facebook or online, as there are sites that can take any photograph that is ‘out there’ and sell it for profit to some magazine/group that would want it as they know how to dismantle any copyright information within the file. Plus, having two young grrandchildren, I have learned that unless you turn your gps off of your cell phone, all those beautiful photos can lead the wrong type ofperson right to your loved one’s front door. The internet is truly a beautiful arena, where one can learn and expands ones knowledge, yet it can be a scary one! I find that I am less and less ‘conversing ‘ online and that the social media is helping many to be trapped in a false idea of what being ‘social ‘ is!

Monica Robinson

I realize your blog is civil and I appreciate that. I feel I can say or respond to you and your readers what I am feeling without criticism or feeling foolish. I am older and not from a text generation, therefore I have another form of memory in communication. I am not rude and I realize words are powerful and lasting. I also think that my communications require responses, however brief if necessary. We are human however and no matter how old or young we are, we have not set aside the time or effort to “communicate” with care. We should. I like that you have addressed this today.

Thank you for bringing the beauty of your country and home to a blog. I love it.


I don’t have a blog, don’t have a Twitter, Instagram or any other social media account. I’m not interested in sharing my life with people I don’t know (& am pretty circumspect even with those I do) & REALLY have no interest in reading about the unfailingly banal minutia of the lives of others (seriously: those who seem to have the most to say almost always have the least to say). BUT. I follow a handful of blogs (yours amongst them obviously) which I love. Again, strangers, yes. But now & again I make a connection with someone online & their other readers — tribal recognition, I call it — and feel at home. I appreciate the sharing, but understand & appreciate some discretion, too. I think it must be difficult to know how much to share & what to keep private, as there are very real concerns (a fact that seems to escape most politicians & anyone caught in the Ashley Madison mess which I very judgementally think serves them right, but I digress . . . . ). I feel you’ve hit a good balance here. And as for email, well, man! Is there any of us who hasn’t blasted off a too-hasty response to something & lived to regret it? Type once, think twice. And I probably write five times as many blog comments as I actually hit “submit” on, which is just as well. My philosophy: opinions are like elbows — everyone’s got a couple, and life works best when we keep them out of other people’s faces. Now . . . hit “post”, or not??


Is Mimi my thoughts twin?
I feel pretty much the same …
I struggle with using Facebook for the very reasons she spoke of. But on the flip side if you have a product or service are you preventing growth if you don’t use Facebook?
The answer for me is although I dislike immensely
the transitory -shallow- feeling Facebook usually leaves me with. I will from time to time partake & have even experienced true connection. But I much prefer thought inspiring bogs like yours or pretty pictures.
Later I will return & read others thoughts on this 21st century question.
As always, thanks Vicki for connecting us
I wouldn’t worry too much about your grammatical errors as, especially with Facebook,most people are already onto the next thing. And the thing you poured your heart & soul into-or at least gave it a lot of thought- is already forgotten in our fast paced society.
leaves me with I sometimes will partake.
But I much prefer blogs with thought provoking


I think you are a Grammy award winner! Your wonderful voice in the blogging world has attracted many fans, my self included. Grammer check and spell check work wonders, but mistakes in any form can be quite endearing. Just remember none of us are perfect


One of the unwritten rules of the place where I used to work was: “don’t put anything in an email that would cause concern or embarrassment to you or anyone else if it appeared on the front page of a newspaper”. There is also the longstanding rule about never writing a letter/email in anger. If you need to express disagreement/disappointment, do it first on Word – not as an email, then sleep at least one night on it. Chances are you’ll think better of it next day and not send. If it’s written as an email first it’s all too easy to push the send button by mistake.
I’ve old friends from university days who think Facebook is the devil’s work. They totally refuse to use it. It’s all very well to say you can keep family/friends up to date with your life (and hear about theirs) without FB – but if they’re overseas or interstate it’s not so easy. I find almost the only time I’m in contact now is around Christmas or if they’re visiting us or vice versa. That may only be once a year. V few now write letters with news (except at Christmas) – so we miss out on what is happening in each others’ lives.
With other friends who do use FB I can follow events in their lives: trips, children, books they’re reading, movies they’ve enjoyed etc. It keeps us close. When posting photographs of family and friends I’m always careful never to post a bad picture (eg eyes shut, frowning, yawning, bad hair day etc). I post v few of my grand children except if I know my family is OK with them. FB is also a useful diary – I can look up earlier posts and pics to check dates, locations etc back in time. I have security set on Friends Only so it’s not open to general public. Also it’s useful for messenging people. On our last holiday my laptop picked up a virus resulting in my email service provider blocking my account which I couldn’t fix overseas. Instead I messaged people individually using FB – it was a life saver. Best wishes, Pamela

Doré @ BurlapLuxe

hi Vicki, and darn That SPELL Check changing words to something so out of left field as to what you wanted to say, and if you hit send before you catch it then one reads I to what the heck were you saying.

Yes, anyone these days can steal your identity at a click of a computer button, and who you are becomes a whole other life to someone else who may be cat-fishing you for some thrill.
It use to be “if you can say something nice about someone, don’t say it at all.” Now it’s if you can’t email, text, or blog, even Twitter, and Instagram don’t post it, it’s words you can’t take back, and that satellite is storing every things we say and do these days… Look any text coming through Iphone identifies where your location is, and the Internet with Map quest has made it easy to see exactly how you live, with a global view of your home and the outdoor belongings that the satellite has captured.

Interesting topics here, makes me miss the pay phone, and the worst part of a home phone was the occasional party line we would ease drop in on :)

See you soon.


Heather in Arles

Oh, I am glad that I didn’t miss this – what an interesting discussion and responses. I definitely give a lot of thought into what I write on my blog now but it took me a while to draw my lines in the sand (actually, this made me think of the time that I sent you a draft of a “story” that I was working on and thank goodness you are such a polite diplomat – do you remember what I am talking about? :).
And maybe because I came at blogging from working with the press first, I kind of am aware that things are going to be out there “forever”…hopefully, there will not come a time when I will read my backlog and cringe. But oh, I wish that I thought more before writing emails and the like. I often don’t think enough before I speak, I really, really don’t… :(

I definitely don’t think that I have a different “persona” in my blog writing but as someone who is essentially shy, I am very careful about what photos that I publish of myself and other people!

Angela Muller

I resisted Facebook at first, until my son-in-law dragged me along, kicking and screaming. Now, Facebook and Email are two sites I quickly scan each morning, even before brushing my teeth. However, I never use Facebook to post anything personal; but it’s a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with faraway friends and family, and promoting my volunteer organizations. However, though I keep my personal life private, everyone can still see that I just purchased those adorable leopard booties from Nordstrom, even though I thought I privately purchased them directly from the Nordstrom site, and…if a blog also has a Facebook presence , my rare comments posted on a particular blog site appear on Facebook for everyone to read, which is especially frustrating if I’m sharing something of a personal nature. The dilemma…how to keep up with the world, without totally being a part of it.
As for the use of language…well, since I am, and will always be, a teacher and writer, I edit, edit, edit.


In response to Angela Muller’s predicament on virtual tracker/ stalker i.e. facebook, I’ve learnt that prior to surfing the rest of the net, we MUST log out of Facebook. Otherwise, it will track and oh Heavens, share every bit of details of our virtual activities. Also, Facebook has a lot of privacy options in its desktop version.
It’s only very recently, I’ve come to appreciate the appeal of Facebook upon realizing it’s actually an awesome virtual cafe to be in IF we edit our friends list or unfollow people. Now I only get to see posts that are worth “signing back in”.
Love your blog, Miss Vicki!


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