Saturday, June 24, 2006

Anonymity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how different this blog would be if I had remained anonymous from the start. As it is, I’ve never chosen to hide my name or identity, and there’s even a (bad) picture of me in the sidebar now. I’ve only hidden those who indicated they’d prefer not to be named here, or were unaware of the blog in the first place. Some, like The Boy, have names that are known to many who read this blog, but out of respect when I posted before telling him about it, I chose not to name him initially. It seemed silly to change that after he knew, so it stuck.


Would I be more forthcoming if no one knew who I was? Undoubtedly. There have been so many things I’ve never mentioned here or haven’t been able to mention because my identity is not hidden, and most of my friends know of the existence of this blog, and even some of my family (Hello Brother!) So there have been things I haven’t been able to say, or even allude to for fear of offending someone, worrying someone, or making someone feel uncomfortable. There have been situations I could only mention in the briefest of terms, because they were confidential to others, and it wouldn’t have been fair to plaster that all over this blog as everyone knew who I was and would connect the dots fairly quickly. Even at times when this has been my only ranting space, I couldn’t give full vent, because it would be so easy to upset someone or break a confidence (However unwillingly bestowed)


I’ve never hidden behind a screen name. I haven’t concealed who I am, what I do (Although I’ve never specifically named my profession or employers. We have all, I think, learned the Dooce lesson by now) or even what I look like. At times, this has been a blessing. I’ve never had to fear that something hidden would be revealed. It hasn’t ever hovered over my head. I’ve never had to worry that someone I know would unmask me. At other times, it has been a curse. I’ve had to hold my tongue on things that I would have loved to be able to talk about. Things I couldn’t discuss with those in my life, because they were too painful. It would have been easier to be able to put the words on screen, so to speak, before I talked to people. As it is, I haven’t been able to do that.


In a way, I wouldn’t change it. In some ways I would. My writing here has been largely self-indulgent, any political commentary restricted to the blogs of others who say it so much better than I ever could. I don’t, in general, do the whole “Here’s the news and what I think about it” thing, I haven’t often linked to things I find quirky or funny. I don’t seek new blog material. I write here when the fancy strikes me, not because of a sense of obligation. I don’t have writers’ bloc, because I don’t reach for something to write.


It’s been hard to write about things sometimes, without being stunted by the things I wasn’t writing about. Isn’t it funny how the absence of something can sometimes say more than the presence of it? I would love to write something meaningful here. But it doesn’t seem the forum. Some have been amused, bemused, saddened or gladdened by things I’ve put here. But I can’t say I went into it with any sense of intent. A friend (AJ of Herein fame) suggested I give it a go, and I did. I didn’t think, “Here’s a showcase for my political nous and mad writing skills” because I don’t think I possess either. My self-editing skills are terrible; I can’t get to a point in fewer than five paragraphs, and my comma use sees sentences extend longer than the Hundred Years War.


My political nous is scatty. I’m left leaning by the definition of others, but I also mix it up with a contrary view on unlikely subjects. I can’t be bothered enough with the figures, statistics or references to articles by the same author fifteen years ago in Outer Mongolia to put forward a convincing case anymore. I still like a verbal discussion, but I’m finding myself less and less indignant about what goes on around me. So what is written here ends up being about what does matter to me – family, friends, The Boy – the things that I care about most inspire the need to write more than things that can, at times, seem too remote from me.


As if to prove my point, I’ve strayed completely from what I intended to write here.


So to stop me rambling any further, the question is; to those who are anonymous, and to those who aren’t, is it easier to write exactly how you feel if people don’t know who you are? Or is it easier to lay it all out and not have to worry about the cloak being pulled away from your screen name?

I’m still undecided.

4 comments:

Iain said...

Hi Kerri
There have been some big stoushes in my blogs about this some times vexed topic .I post in my own name and in some senses it makes you more honest as a Blogger.
I believe that the easy anonymity of the net just encourages those with malice in their hearts to go out and be pests at peoples blogs. I have had my share of those.
Any way I will look in on your blog a bit more thoroughly.
Best wishes
Iain

Keri said...

You could be right. I don't mind people commenting anonymously - I don't need to know who someone is to hear their opinion - but I just wonder whether I could have been MORE honest (apart from my identity) if my name wasn't plastered all across this blog. But the malice thing is true. I've never had a nice anonymous comment. They've all been nasty.

Iain said...

Sure you maay be willing to reveal some things taht you otherwise would not but what happens if you identity is later revealed ? It happens believe me .Then you will at the very least be embarrased and maybe there will be repocussions in the real world.So I say even if you were posting anonymously then you should write as if your name was known anyway ,the blogosphere is after all a public place.

Hooch said...

Yo Kej,

A friend of mine has both a secret and non secret blog. This seemed to solve the problem of not being able to write incase you divulged someone's secrets to all their friends and relations - just put it on the secret blog and no one would know. But the issue of being eventually found out still looms.

My friend's policy is similar to Iain's: don't put anything on there that you don't want people to read. So while it's a secret from some people, if they do (for whatever reason) find out, it's not the end of the world.