4 x 4 Secrets About Me, And Why I’m Uncomfortable Talking About Myself

Over the weekend, my friends Peter Kim and BL Ochman independently tagged me “It” in two blog games (called memes). The object of each is for the tagged writer to reveal personal bits about themselves that you wouldn’t know otherwise, and then to tag other blog authors to similarly spill their guts.

 

BL (who had been tagged by Toby Bloomberg) asked for “8 secrets,” and Peter (himself tagged by Shiv Singh) asked for four details about four topics of esoteric “things about me”; Peter called it a 4 x 4, which I kind of liked.

 

Truth is, I’ve been tagged lots of times in the past. But I’ve rarely played along, in part because I didn’t have the right forum: I feel a little weird talking about myself on the MarketingProfs group blog.

 

Or so I thought. Now that I have my own blog here, I’m surprisingly just as uncomfortable.

 

Yet, it gnaws at me every time I ignore a tag—I feel like I’m the pouty kid waiting to intercept the ball so I can tuck it under my arm and head for home. So, this time, I decided to play along.

 

Better yet, I decided to turn this into my own meme, combining Peter’s and BL’s requests into a single post. Three of the four topics are (mostly) from Peter, but the last is all mine.

 

4 x 4 Secrets

 

4 of the Weirdest Places I’ve Been

Entrance to Shuka, Yerevan

  1. Yerevan (Armenia) Shouka: Amazing food market where the locals shop. But I couldn’t speak the language and I didn’t know the social mores of an incredibly interesting but (for a Westerner) often impenetrable culture.

  2. Wal-Mart Supercenter, in a now-forgotten sprawling Florida town: Again, where the locals shop. I could speak the language, but I couldn’t have felt more out of place than if I were in Yerevan.

  3. Santa’s Village: A Christmas-themed amusement park in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The giant elves, Yule Log flume, and Little Drummer Boy “teacups” were oddly out of place in July, even when you’re 7. In the photos, I look like a (rein)deer in headlights.

  4. Minneapolis on a ridiculously windy day, which, as I understand it, is pretty much every day between October and March. Not sure why they call Chicago the windy city; it’s here.

4 Strange Jobs I’ve Held

  1. Life-sized Care Bear at the opening of a Rhode Island strip mall. It was a billion degrees outside, and about a billion + 50 inside the giant, pink, furry suit.

  2. Working the drive-thru window at the now-defunct Jack in the Box in Wilmington, Mass., where the sound system in the clown’s head was so distorted that customers didn’t bat an eye when, my voice thick with intercom fuzz, I regularly barked, “Welcome to Smack in the Chops!”

  3. Beat news reporter for the Boston Globe. I knew this wasn’t for me when I lamely asked the victim of a house fire, who’d lost her home as well as her priceless collection of antique books, “So, uh, how do you feel?”

  4. Telephone operator, back when a person actually answered when you dialed 0. Another bad match—the nosy writer in me couldn’t help but listen in on the more compelling conversations, all that summer long. I quit before I was fired.

4 favorite foods

  1. Dark chocolate

  2. A nice glass of red

  3. Good coffee

  4. Really good bread

And Finally: 4 Reasons I’m Uncomfortable Writing This

  1. It feels slightly narcissistic. Talking about myself in detail feels self-aggrandizing. And, what’s more:

  2. I suspect that no one really cares.

  3. Also, others are seeking out this information, I’m not merely volunteering it—entirely.

  4. I’m cheating. These really aren’t “secrets”—and all that the word implies: something private, confidential, furtive. Do any of us who compile these lists really shine light on our darkest and worst moments…? Am I accessing my heart’s mysteries? Well… someday, maybe. But not yet. And certainly not this easily—actually, for either of us.

All of which brings me back to: So why would you publish these few revealing details for strangers to gawk at? The short answer, of course, is that none of you are exactly strangers; and, what’s more, it’s all about getting to know a bit more about each other.

 

I like Susan Scrupski’s take: “Similarly, learning about each other in a more personal way, we’re exposed to more candid layers about a person. The more our social graphs overlap, we make choices about who we want to continue to build our futures with together and who we are willing to release.”

 

Not much has changed in this basic pattern over the ages, she points out. “What is different today, however, is now we do it globally and in sometimes random encounters. That’s different.”

 

Now, who’s up for playing it forward? Richard Binhammer? Kami Huyse? Carolyn Townes? CB Whittemore?

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59 Responses to 4 x 4 Secrets About Me, And Why I’m Uncomfortable Talking About Myself

  1. Cam Beck says:

    I know how you feel… This is sort of how I felt when you told me I had to send you a bio for MPDF!! :)

    Wal-Mart Supercenter is weird? I guess the first time I ever went inside one… but now they’re all over the place down here.

    Speaking of which, if they’re all “super,” doesn’t that make them “ordinary?” Just wondering.

  2. Cam Beck says:

    I know how you feel… This is sort of how I felt when you told me I had to send you a bio for MPDF!! :)

    Wal-Mart Supercenter is weird? I guess the first time I ever went inside one… but now they’re all over the place down here.

    Speaking of which, if they’re all “super,” doesn’t that make them “ordinary?” Just wondering.

  3. Ann Handley says:

    Cam — LOL. I know — sorry about that.

    Wal-Mart is weird in that case because I felt completely out of place…. it wasn’t in a great neighborhood, and it had an aura of sadness about it, I guess is the best way to put it. Or maybe they all do… can’t say I frequent Wal-Marts often enough to know.

    p.s. And yes — I suppose they would. : )

  4. Ann Handley says:

    Cam — LOL. I know — sorry about that.

    Wal-Mart is weird in that case because I felt completely out of place…. it wasn’t in a great neighborhood, and it had an aura of sadness about it, I guess is the best way to put it. Or maybe they all do… can’t say I frequent Wal-Marts often enough to know.

    p.s. And yes — I suppose they would. : )

  5. Mike Keliher says:

    Let me clarify a bit regarding Minneapolis:

    It’s not windy October through March. That’s when it’s invariably cold. And when it’s as cold as it gets here, a stranger coughing across town creates enough wind to drop the temperate by about 70 degrees throughout the metro area.

    And in the summer, when it’s only mildly warm but as humid as a greenhouse, you pray for a refreshing breeze. But that ultimately does no good because when the wind finally comes, it’s the hottest, stickiest, nastiest wind you’ve ever felt in your life. I’m quite certain the wind actually brings about sunburn.

    But I love Minnesota. Have you seen the North Shore?

  6. Mike Keliher says:

    Let me clarify a bit regarding Minneapolis:

    It’s not windy October through March. That’s when it’s invariably cold. And when it’s as cold as it gets here, a stranger coughing across town creates enough wind to drop the temperate by about 70 degrees throughout the metro area.

    And in the summer, when it’s only mildly warm but as humid as a greenhouse, you pray for a refreshing breeze. But that ultimately does no good because when the wind finally comes, it’s the hottest, stickiest, nastiest wind you’ve ever felt in your life. I’m quite certain the wind actually brings about sunburn.

    But I love Minnesota. Have you seen the North Shore?

  7. Peter Kim says:

    I always love hearing about the somebody behind a somebody. Thanks for playing along!

  8. Peter Kim says:

    I always love hearing about the somebody behind a somebody. Thanks for playing along!

  9. Ann Handley says:

    Mike — LOL.. thanks. I definitely remember that sort of cold… you certainly paint a pretty picture.

    Peter — No sweat. Well, actually… it *was*. : )

  10. Ann Handley says:

    Mike — LOL.. thanks. I definitely remember that sort of cold… you certainly paint a pretty picture.

    Peter — No sweat. Well, actually… it *was*. : )

  11. Dusan says:

    The lovely thing about this game is the truth? Web is much too often a story, farytale. People type about things they like, things they somehow know and want to be “the heroes”, “the cool”, “the guru”, “the blogger”. It’s a theater.

    So I just can’t express how nice it was to read it. No matter what role you wanted to play. :-) It gave a feeling of true person?

  12. Dusan says:

    The lovely thing about this game is the truth? Web is much too often a story, farytale. People type about things they like, things they somehow know and want to be “the heroes”, “the cool”, “the guru”, “the blogger”. It’s a theater.

    So I just can’t express how nice it was to read it. No matter what role you wanted to play. :-) It gave a feeling of true person?

  13. At first this is a who cares post, it’s a chain letter and if you told people you read it they would say why did you waste your time.

    But this is the mystery of social media and the human spirit. There is a sense that if we don’t find out more we will miss an opportunity to know somone, not just about them, but of them.

    And this Ann is why we exist. So everyone cares.

    All the best
    Albert

  14. At first this is a who cares post, it’s a chain letter and if you told people you read it they would say why did you waste your time.

    But this is the mystery of social media and the human spirit. There is a sense that if we don’t find out more we will miss an opportunity to know somone, not just about them, but of them.

    And this Ann is why we exist. So everyone cares.

    All the best
    Albert

  15. Toby says:

    @Dusan – I can attest Ann Handley is one of the realest and nicest persons :-)

    @Ann – I loved the way you weaved your magical touch through these memes. Any photos of you as a Care Bear? (smile)

  16. Toby says:

    @Dusan – I can attest Ann Handley is one of the realest and nicest persons :-)

    @Ann – I loved the way you weaved your magical touch through these memes. Any photos of you as a Care Bear? (smile)

  17. Ann Handley says:

    Dusan — Thanks for your kind words. Yep — it’s all me… warts and all.

    Albert — Very nice sentiment. Thank you.

    Toby — I can’t tell you how often I wished as much… especially the red-faced, sweaty “after-suit” photos! It would permanently dispel the myth that I am always glamorous and fabulous… believe me…lol…

  18. Ann Handley says:

    Dusan — Thanks for your kind words. Yep — it’s all me… warts and all.

    Albert — Very nice sentiment. Thank you.

    Toby — I can’t tell you how often I wished as much… especially the red-faced, sweaty “after-suit” photos! It would permanently dispel the myth that I am always glamorous and fabulous… believe me…lol…

  19. Gavin Heaton says:

    I am with Cam on this one ;)

    When I talk about social media in lectures or presentations, I often talk about the turning points in the revelation of identity. And the first one for me, was sending you my pic and bio for MarketingProfs — from that point onwards, the “servant of chaos” inexorably became “gavin heaton”.

    The collision between the “real” and “writing” selves is what makes social media an interesting experiment for both the audience and the participants. Makes me think that Salome was prophetic.

  20. Gavin Heaton says:

    I am with Cam on this one ;)

    When I talk about social media in lectures or presentations, I often talk about the turning points in the revelation of identity. And the first one for me, was sending you my pic and bio for MarketingProfs — from that point onwards, the “servant of chaos” inexorably became “gavin heaton”.

    The collision between the “real” and “writing” selves is what makes social media an interesting experiment for both the audience and the participants. Makes me think that Salome was prophetic.

  21. John Eckman says:

    “Not sure why they call Chicago the windy city; it’s here.”

    The “windy” in Chicago came from the hot air of all the boosters trying to get the World’s Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893 located in Chicago – it’s a question of how much hucksterism there was, not the weather.

    OK, so that’s a bit of geeky trivia, but a chapter of my dissertation was on that world’s fair so I have an excuse for knowing it.

    I prefer the actual personal voice to the pseudonymous corporate one. ;)

  22. John Eckman says:

    “Not sure why they call Chicago the windy city; it’s here.”

    The “windy” in Chicago came from the hot air of all the boosters trying to get the World’s Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893 located in Chicago – it’s a question of how much hucksterism there was, not the weather.

    OK, so that’s a bit of geeky trivia, but a chapter of my dissertation was on that world’s fair so I have an excuse for knowing it.

    I prefer the actual personal voice to the pseudonymous corporate one. ;)

  23. Bethann says:

    Hmmm…..
    As a product of “the family” where transparency was opaque, I applaud you.
    Boy, could I add to the list!

    Bethann

  24. Bethann says:

    Hmmm…..
    As a product of “the family” where transparency was opaque, I applaud you.
    Boy, could I add to the list!

    Bethann

  25. Ann Handley says:

    Thanks, John Eckman! I feel better already. As for the World’s Fair bit of trivia… I guess I should have tagged YOU for a 4 x 4.

    Bethann…. you crack me up! True nuf.

  26. Ann Handley says:

    Thanks, John Eckman! I feel better already. As for the World’s Fair bit of trivia… I guess I should have tagged YOU for a 4 x 4.

    Bethann…. you crack me up! True nuf.

  27. Ann, I am so glad you did decide to share. For me, it is a great help in getting to know the people behind the blog, especially when we are already connected as friends.

    Thanks, Ann! :)

  28. Ann, I am so glad you did decide to share. For me, it is a great help in getting to know the people behind the blog, especially when we are already connected as friends.

    Thanks, Ann! :)

  29. Pingback: Four by Four: About me « Customers Rock!

  30. We all love memes, Ann. Memes actually connect us on that human level better than anything else. Even when the things we reveal aren’t ‘secrets.’ And, I know the feeling of being left out… I haven’t been tagged in forever! Sad Yvonne!

  31. We all love memes, Ann. Memes actually connect us on that human level better than anything else. Even when the things we reveal aren’t ‘secrets.’ And, I know the feeling of being left out… I haven’t been tagged in forever! Sad Yvonne!

  32. you think I missed this….and avoided having to answer those questions….or you going to nudge me forward, Ann :-)

  33. you think I missed this….and avoided having to answer those questions….or you going to nudge me forward, Ann :-)

  34. Ann: Very nice blog. I hope you can maintain your enthusiasm for it. Good luck.

    Question (relating to your 4 x 4): What four criteria were important for you in selecting your publishing tool for this (personal) blog?

    Happy writing!

  35. Ann: Very nice blog. I hope you can maintain your enthusiasm for it. Good luck.

    Question (relating to your 4 x 4): What four criteria were important for you in selecting your publishing tool for this (personal) blog?

    Happy writing!

  36. Hi Ann:

    Clean design, interesting copy.

    I’m with Roger, and would like to know what software you’re using, why you picked it, and perhaps some advice in that area.

    Steve

  37. Hi Ann:

    Clean design, interesting copy.

    I’m with Roger, and would like to know what software you’re using, why you picked it, and perhaps some advice in that area.

    Steve

  38. Ann Handley says:

    Thanks Becky and Yvonne. Yvonne — you are next.

    Richard — What are you waiting for? Time to spill.

    Roger & Steve: Thanks for stopping by. As for specifics, this is published via WordPress, and I picked it because I was already familiar with it, it was easy to use, and it was free. I used Chris Pearon’s template (again, free from WordPress), because I liked its clean lines and journalistic feel, and I customized it on a whim with an old photo of me that my uncle took in 1966 — one I happened to have lying around my desktop.

    Unexpectedly, I liked the look & feel, proving that, sometimes, the coolest things result from not a lot of consideration.

    I use Moveable Type for the Daily Fix. But I’ve noticed that WordPress has been gaining quite a bit of respect in the blogging world. So right now, it’s my darling.

  39. Ann Handley says:

    Thanks Becky and Yvonne. Yvonne — you are next.

    Richard — What are you waiting for? Time to spill.

    Roger & Steve: Thanks for stopping by. As for specifics, this is published via WordPress, and I picked it because I was already familiar with it, it was easy to use, and it was free. I used Chris Pearon’s template (again, free from WordPress), because I liked its clean lines and journalistic feel, and I customized it on a whim with an old photo of me that my uncle took in 1966 — one I happened to have lying around my desktop.

    Unexpectedly, I liked the look & feel, proving that, sometimes, the coolest things result from not a lot of consideration.

    I use Moveable Type for the Daily Fix. But I’ve noticed that WordPress has been gaining quite a bit of respect in the blogging world. So right now, it’s my darling.

  40. Ann, congratulations! What a great way to start 2008! You look marvelous, and I like your 4×4 secrets. Now, I have to come up with some of my own. … Thank you!

  41. Ann, congratulations! What a great way to start 2008! You look marvelous, and I like your 4×4 secrets. Now, I have to come up with some of my own. … Thank you!

  42. Anne Rendle says:

    Ann,

    A Care Bear?! That is the coolest weird job I ever heard of! Makes running New England’s largest salad bar up in Bangor, Maine, which I did eons ago, seem truly tame!! That is a great image and I hope worth all the pain of sharing!!
    Anne Rendle

  43. Anne Rendle says:

    Ann,

    A Care Bear?! That is the coolest weird job I ever heard of! Makes running New England’s largest salad bar up in Bangor, Maine, which I did eons ago, seem truly tame!! That is a great image and I hope worth all the pain of sharing!!
    Anne Rendle

  44. Thanks, Ann! Now I know that if/when I actually get to meet you in the flesh we can enjoy some dark chocolate and a glass of red. That combination is a staple for my wife and me!!

  45. Thanks, Ann! Now I know that if/when I actually get to meet you in the flesh we can enjoy some dark chocolate and a glass of red. That combination is a staple for my wife and me!!

  46. Pingback: Transmission Content + Creative, Mark Goren, New Marketing Coach » Blog Archive » Going 4 X 4

  47. Pingback: 4X4 | ... and I am Somebody

  48. Gary Cohen says:

    Ann

    You are so on. I wrote a few days ago about not responding to chain letters and emails and how it constitutes spamming your friends and worse. Your ambivalence here and in your Facebook post are deeply rooted for me.

    The request for secrets or Facebook challenges or chain emails are all somewhat intrusive – more so when they come from someone on the periphery of your community. Either way, they intrude on time, they intrude on privacy and they intrude on friendships. How so? How do you ignore a good friend that sends you any of these requests and not feel stressed, conflicted or guilt if you do not respond?

    As I spend more and more time in and around some of the community sites and tools, old habits die hard. It is not easy to comfortably open the kimono to potentially millions of your closest strangers IN PERPETUITY because of the nature of the web.

    Great Post.

  49. Gary Cohen says:

    Ann

    You are so on. I wrote a few days ago about not responding to chain letters and emails and how it constitutes spamming your friends and worse. Your ambivalence here and in your Facebook post are deeply rooted for me.

    The request for secrets or Facebook challenges or chain emails are all somewhat intrusive – more so when they come from someone on the periphery of your community. Either way, they intrude on time, they intrude on privacy and they intrude on friendships. How so? How do you ignore a good friend that sends you any of these requests and not feel stressed, conflicted or guilt if you do not respond?

    As I spend more and more time in and around some of the community sites and tools, old habits die hard. It is not easy to comfortably open the kimono to potentially millions of your closest strangers IN PERPETUITY because of the nature of the web.

    Great Post.

  50. Pingback: 4×4 Blog Tag « SoV-Share of Voice

  51. As painful as it might have been for you to share, I’m so glad you did.

    Hee. Pink Care Bear, Share-a-lot by any chance? Rainbow tummy? My favorite when I was a kid. :)

  52. As painful as it might have been for you to share, I’m so glad you did.

    Hee. Pink Care Bear, Share-a-lot by any chance? Rainbow tummy? My favorite when I was a kid. :)

  53. Dang, should have read this particular post before I tagged you with a post tonight on the same general concept (5 things you don’t know about me).

    Oh well, I’ll just read this now :D .

    –barb

  54. Dang, should have read this particular post before I tagged you with a post tonight on the same general concept (5 things you don’t know about me).

    Oh well, I’ll just read this now :D .

    –barb

  55. Pingback: Four Diary Entries

  56. It's not windy October through March. That's when it's invariably cold. And when it's as cold as it gets here, a stranger coughing across town creates enough wind to drop the temperate by about 70 degrees throughout the metro area.

  57. chanel says:

    This is a good market … may be here have i want !

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    I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get
    feed-back from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thank you!

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