I have become a fiercely private individual when it comes to my romantic life. These days, it takes me a while to warm up to people enough to even acknowledge whether or not I have a boyfriend. It’s not information I usually freely offer, and I don’t believe that undermines any of my feelings towards a romantic partner. Instead, I think it’s a greater testimony of my independence with my refusal to ever publicly acknowledge an intimate relationship.
This is a stark contrast to the days when I was 18 and penned a “sex” column.
I don’t regret the experience that ultimately made me the private person I am. I learned the boundaries of what I was comfortable with sharing. During my phase of kissing and telling, I never cared about establishing a relationship that wasn’t superficial. Consequently, the bulk of what I wrote about could be called vapid and insipid.
After I turned 19, I stopped talking publicly about my intimate life. I wrote about sex toys, and then I just got sick of sex writing. I realized writing about sex without any personal anecdotes was not anything special.
I fully understand that the remnants of my oversharing may never disappear from the Internet, and I’m perfectly OK with that. It doesn’t bother me that one of the first hits of my name on Google turns up an image of me with a huge grin holding a dildo. This image should possibly concern me more. However, it’s never come up in a job interview, and I’m sure some of my employers have Googled me.
It does, however, bother me that people continue to make assumptions and judgments about who I am based on my previous exploits. It’s impossible to control other individuals’ reactions to writing that’s been published on the Internet. However, it amazed me the extreme levels of nastiness from several members of the MIT campus.
I was continually harassed on my blog and other blogs by anonymous individuals with MIT IP addresses, who were too cowardly to put a real name to their statements. They also probably thought I was too stupid to track IP’s.
These individuals slandered me by comparing me to a mentally handicapped elementary school student and multiple other nasty ways of questioning my intelligence. I was also continually called fat when I was only a size 2 then.
I got tired of the dread of every Google alert I would get involving my name. So, I just disappeared from the Internet for a few months. As a result, I no longer had to worry if people associated my name with “Talk Nerdy to Me,” and the vitriol of internet trolls died down.
I used believed that I was letting the Internet trolls win by disappearing. Now, I realize that many of them had a point: I exploited myself.
The girl who wrote “Talk Nerdy to Me” may never disappear from the Internet, even if I attempted to scrub my online identity clean. Online identities don’t just disappear when you take a hiatus from the Internet. To some people, I will always be the girl who wrote “Talk Nerdy to Me,” even if I never blab another word about my private life. However, I’ve come to accept and realize that the longer I keep my silence — the more I guard my privacy — is a greater testimony of who I’ve become.