I have a Google problem.
When I began this blog, I did so with the assertion that I would maintain my anonymity. For the first year I managed to do just that. In fact, many of my friends were completely unaware that I had begun working on this website until after the first six months writing were under my belt. I went so far as to disguise my own name, using a pseudonym when filling out forms related to the site and scrubbing all of my stories of their specific locations and my personal information. Should you search through the archive, you will find posts where I refer to myself exclusively by the blog’s name, “Pornopaycheck.”
Slowly, I began lifting the veil and exposing the Vail. Being anonymous was not going to help me get published or syndicated. In fact, it made it harder to impress upon people, that the stories here were true. The stories here read more like a filthy Judy Blume novel about a guy named Porno, than a real life account of the strange happenings inside a porn store. I started using my first name. By the end of the first year I was using twitter, and while my handle there is @pornopaycheck, my user name is Will Vail. When nothing catastrophic happened, I relaxed my rules about anonymity and decided it was time to own my work completely. By the time I signed up for my (frankly useless) Google Plus account, I was no longer pretending to be someone else from another place and became Will Vail, from Providence, RI.
I was not blind to how damaging this blog could be. I took it on knowing that anyone who did a search of my name could find it. I am not exactly a corporate cowboy and since I largely prefer working for small companies with limited resources, I was not sufficiently concerned with what employers may find about me. After all, working at Adult Store for almost four years means that I will need to discuss this part of my resume with future employers for the rest of my life. In theory I don’t want to work for anyone who has a problem with my having worked an honest job for a scrupulous and responsible company.
That said, fast food companies and sporting goods stores are being run by creepy Christians and more than ever, companies are prying into the lives of their employees. A friend of mine works for a big-box store, and though she is hiring people to work for minimum wage, she is forced by her corporate supervisors to perform a simple, online search on every person she intends to hire. I asked her once, what sort of stuff she is looking to find and she answered that she did not know. Mostly she just clicks through their Facebook pages and hopes she doesn’t find evidence of drug use or nude photos.
Employment opportunities aside, my online persona makes my life tricky in other, more personal ways. Firstly, though I never talked to my parents about my blog, there has always been a little fear that what I post here will get back to them. I write about some raw stuff. I actually pride myself on how honest and vulnerable I allow myself to be in my writing. It is not just the vulgar material I worry about having to answer for, but some of the personal stories about being a victim of child molestation or having been bullied for myriad reasons, that I worry about exposing my parents to. Parents are charged with protecting their children and though I feel my parents were amazing and loving and did a wonderful job at raising, not only my sister and I, but also a foster child, I fear that they would be hurt by reading The Wild Blue Yonder or Have Some Comme Fait Plaisir And Then Some Cake. They were difficult enough for me to write and for my close friends to read; my Mother would read them as a negative reflection of her parenting.
In fact, just in case my parents ever read this post, I’d like to make it clear that I think they did a great job at fostering independence and creativity in my sister and I. They were loving and warm and enthusiastic in their support of us as children. They were wonderful providers, selfless parents, and excellent teachers. There is no part of my history during which I felt that they were not looking out for my best interest. I honestly feel that, without the freedom and trust they granted me as a child, I would not have grown to be the person I am today. That a few nefarious people chose to take advantage of my freedom and naiveté, is a symptom of a crumbling society and not a mark against any parental philosophies.
But I digress…
All of the above repercussions were weighed and considered before I chose to sacrifice my online anonymity. What I never considered, was how writing this blog would affect my love life. Most of the people I have dated were met at parties or bars or through friends. If you think that this blog gets a bit to real at times, meeting me in person would make you run for the hills! I am an open book. I am gregarious and expressive and sarcastic. Friends describe me as a wit, because I am not just gifted at telling a story, I am quick-thinking and have a sharp tongue. I can easily switch gears from talking about politics or gender to talking about pop culture or making poop jokes. I don’t mean to backdoor-brag, but rather to make it clear that most of the people I have dated have heard me say far worse things than have been set down in writing.
As I have grown older and uglier, my dating life has shifted toward the digital. More of my partners are met online than in person, these days. This means that my digital “paper-trail” hangs around my shoulders like a mantle. Now, before I have even met someone, they can quickly enter my name into Google and watch my life spread out for their inspection. Unlike the people who meet me in person, I don’t benefit from being charming or funny to these online paramours. They see every unflattering photo I am tagged in. They can read every word I have written and published. Wielding only my name and my email address, a gifted investigator can know what online shops I frequent, what pornography I watch and where I live, work and play – all before having seen me in person. The minutiae of a well-lived life can be digested without ever being attached to a real person. I can be rejected before the first word is even exchanged.
Is it unfair? For sure, but I asked for it. No one twisted my arm to publicize my personal life. To be honest, I am proud of the things that I write. As I get older, maybe it is time to own every part of my life. After all, I am no longer casually dating. I am dating with the purpose of finding a long-term partner. The person I end up in a permanent relationship with is going to need to be someone who accepts all of me, not just the parts of me that are universally attractive. My writing, no matter what form it eventually evolves into, is part and parcel of who I am. It is important to me and need for it to be embraced by my partner. I am only sad that it took me so very long to realize that, by putting myself out there as a public figure, I have relinquished control of people’s perception of me.
Perhaps I will do a little spring cleaning and attempt to clear my name from some of the less desirable sites I am affiliated with. Like anything else, our online lives need a bit of routine maintenance. But, truth be told, I will never be able to go back to being completely anonymous on the internet. Thankfully, I like the good aspects more than I am bothered by the bad. This blog will probably be attached to my history for the rest of my life. I have not answered my last question about and I am sure to miss a few more opportunities as a result of its existence, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. There is no rest at all in freedom…