I have decided to add this as a label over there on the side, because I have a feeling this will be an ongoing discussion for me, and it is one I have already, often, had on the side (just not THIS side) with others. It is an issue I find myself struggling with, and I have already discussed briefly this struggle in my post Clark Kent.
Having fallen in love with Twitter, I am now finding many new bloggers. And I find that we blog for many different reasons. Some of my new friends are Mommy bloggers. Some are selling products. Some are rambling and sharing their life like me. Some have focus. Some don't. There is a wide variety of purposes to blog.
For me, in case you haven't already figured it out, I have some issues to work out, and this is cheaper than therapy. Kidding. Sorta. But in order to feel "free" to be perfectly honest and open about some of the things I might want to write about, I felt "safer" creating this blog anonymously.
Despite what you might think, the reasons for remaining anonymous while working through this stuff wasn't about protecting me. As I've written before, I don't really know how to live in a closet. There's very little that you could ask me directly that I wouldn't give you an honest and full answer to (probably more than you might even want to know - for example, I wrote a four-page e-mail to a friend this afternoon in response to her 140 character tweet!).
But my "issues" are about living among and with other human beings. It is about our relationship to each other. Which is why I enjoy the irony of the name of this blog, even though it wasn't necessarily intentional. And so it isn't so much that I am afraid to expose myself, as it is that I am afraid of hurting others who are important and matter to me. Others who may not prefer to be exposed, who may not want their business identifiably linked to them.
As I mentioned before, I live in a small town. One woman I work with, whom I kid that she's "connected", honestly believes that she knows everyone in town, and while I've quizzed her on occasion and found that she doesn't, she knows quite a few. Including me, for example. Today, I went to a drive thru for a restaurant I never go to on my own to pick up lunch for a friend. I was in a bit of a Friday daze, and wasn't paying good attention, making the taking and filling of my order a little harder for her. I apologized when I got to the window for my distractedness, and she told me it was okay, and that she knew me from soccer. It was like we were old friends.
So if you know who I am or you know where I live, you will likely know who I'm writing about. And while I can make those decisions for myself, it is not fair of me to make those for others.
When I started the blog, I also made up some good bullshit reasons in who I am about why I wanted to remain anonymous, and in my post Assimilation about how I really am just like you, and that knowing my exact identity might end up being distracting. It all sounded nice and good when I wrote them (and they are.. but...)
Lastly, frankly, protecting my identity and my whereabouts has become a sensitivity for me since leaving an abusive relationship. At this point, I know if she wanted to find me, she could. And after three years, given that she hasn't shown up at my door ready to do me bodily harm (murder-suicide was on many people's minds), I feel fairly safe that she won't. But for a long time there, I wasn't certain that she wouldn't. I hoped I had moved far enough away to prevent that scenario, but I didn't feel safe. I restricted amongst my close friends even where I lived, let alone sharing a phone number or an address. I had a P.O. Box when I finally needed to have some means for people to reach me, and for a long time even the people at the church only had that address to reach me. When you have a period in your life where you live with or otherwise share your life with an unstable person, and you have reached the point where the only way to set the boundary is to abandon just about everything (except a storage unit full of stuff that you DID manage to take with you) and move across the country so that she can't try and undermine you and your efforts to take care of yourself, you become protective. (Someone on Twitter once told me that this was bullshit when I wouldn't be more specific about where I live and that I was lying about the ex-spouse who was also an ex-cop. Needless to say I have since blocked that person!)
I once read a book about how they figured out who "anonymous" was who wrote the book Primary Colors about Clinton and his affairs, and how all of us have very distinctive writing styles and can be identified - with effort I presume - by how we write. So, at some level, to presume anonymity on the web is, well, presumptuous. I do take care not to use some distinctive identifying written mannerisms while writing here or on Twitter. Usually I am successful. But I am sure some expert could figure out who I was.
And recently I had a momentary fright on another friend's blog, since not only do we have this distinctive signature in how we write, but we also have a distinctive electronic signature that we leave. So, I do recognize that if someone really wanted to know who I was and where I am, they could find me and figure it out. Hopefully, though, no-one decides to look behind the curtain to see who is really the Wizard of Oz, er The Borg Blog.
This will be a continuing discussion for me it seems. And, sensitive to other's identity, you CAN comment on here as "Anonymous". Or, if you want your discussion to be just between us, you can e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.