Internet paranoia

When I first started out on the web as a teenager, I never really gave much thought to how much I was sharing about myself online. Even as college student and during my first few years of medical school, I continued to be relatively open about my offline identity– to the point that I once felt comfortable listing the names of my college and medical school on my “About Me” pages and include pictures of myself in my blog posts. In the last few years, though, and especially this year with residency applications hanging over my head, I’ve become increasingly paranoid that every word I write will somehow have an effect on my offline life and career. Not that I’ve ever posted anything that was particularly incriminating, but I can’t help having the lingering fear that someone will identify me, and that being identified will have… consequences.

What those consequences might be… I couldn’t really say. In actuality, the chances that I’ll lose my job or get written up or be reprimanded in any real way are probably minuscule. But I think I reveal parts of myself on the internet that I don’t in person (and vice versa), and that maybe I’m uncomfortable with the idea of having those parts of myself revealed to my IRL friends and colleagues (yes… apparently I’ve somehow become enough of an adult to have “colleagues”). I find myself wondering how my future residency program director or my future attending, or even a future patient might react to my medicine-related comics, and whether I need to try harder to remain as anonymous as possible. I find myself referring to my specialty as “a competitive subsurgical specialty,” or to my medical school as “a midwestern medical school.” Anyone else feel like this? How do you cope?