Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My secret internet bubble

I'm starting to worry a little bit about when this bubble is going to burst.

I have been blogging anonymously for over two years now. When I initially began, I protected my namelessness with utter intensity. There was no email contact in sight on my page. It took me about a month of humming and hawing about giving my email address to a fellow blogger with whom I'd been having a dialogue for months. I was afraid that a single person being able to identify me might lead to a fatal crashing down of my facade.

Gradually, though, I began to realize that blogging might not solely be about the writing aspect, and may have a social element, as I started emailing and chatting with a few more people. I then met a blogger, then a few more. I started adding bloggers to my Facebook. An element of paranoia still remained, though, as I found myself de-tagging pictures on me on Facebook in albums entitled "Blogger Meet-Up", and I had to monitor the comments left on my wall lest they be too bloggy in nature.

Now, the secrecy is almost automatic. I don't check my gmail around certain people for fear of blog comments catching their eye. I turn off my Google Notifier when anyone is over. I have my back-up stories about the nature of my now real-life relationships with blog friends. I took my blog off Google search so I wouldn't have to scour my SiteMeter stats just in case.

But, still, I wonder, am I bound for an epic reveal??

Certainly, when I started, I never imagined that I would become a slightly (and I cringe to say this word) popular blogger. I kind of expected my comments would trickle in, crossing my fingers they could actually end up in the double digits on occasion. Yeah, I'm no Dooce, or even a Brandy or SO@24, but my writing has become more, well, public than I expected, with a few 20something blogger award nominations, and now two (TWO!) features in the Printed Blog (find #2 here). I actually got approached to do an interview with PBS about the Printed Blog, (though that seems to have disappeared).

As I was contemplating the interview, I started wondering about the possibility of someone recognized my voice. Okay, the reality is that the number of  readers I have is exceedingly miniscule when you consider all the people in the whole wide world. Then again, six degrees of separation isn't very far. In fact, upon a fellow blogger adding me on Facebook, it was discovered we had a real life friend in common-- despite the fact that we live on separate coasts in different countries. I know others have quirky tales of discovering real life connecting lines between themselves and other bloggers. It makes me think of how easy it would be for an errant click to lead someone to my recognizable style of writing. And I have been assured that someday someone will accidentally discover this little corner of the internet.

What does this mean, then? Is this the time that I start preparing for a possible blog invasion? Would it really be the big deal I am expecting it to be? Most of my writing is not anything that needs to be hidden, in particular. I sometimes wonder if I am more secretive about the entire idea of having this anonymous online life for two years than I am than about any set of expressed thoughts in particular. I wonder if I should proactively take down those few posts that may offend someone... but then I waffle, because some of these are my most authentic words. A little bit of me even wonders if it would be a relief to finally claim these words as my own.

But then I wonder if it is just easier to carry on as always, with a healthy dose of paranoia and denial.

And I reach out and knock on wood.


EP said...

I know exactly how you feel. I'm nowhere near ready an epic reveal, though I have slowly told some of my friends about my blog. Carefully.

Here's to hoping that you can stay anonymous longer!

the frog princess said...

I know the feeling.

Lately something has been nagging me a great deal that I kind of want to blog about, but I don't, on the off-chance that one day my identity becomes common knowledge, and that's a particular piece of dirty laundry that is not mine alone to share... so I don't.

Anonymity is a double-edged sword.

(I haven't Facebook-friended you, even though I know your name from the post card I sent while traveling... maybe I will :) )

Anonymous said...

It's such a personal choice and I went through something similar, albeit for a much shorted period of time. Writing anonymously does give a sense of empowerment, but so does claiming your words as your own.

Over the past few months I've slowly taking down the walls surrounding my identity--first the email address, then my real name (well, first name), then pictures, Facebook, and then I started meeting bloggers in real life. I must admit that I was timid at first too, but I'm actually glad I took the plunge and gave up the guise of anonymity.

I have a feeling it won't be nearly as bad as you expect, should you decide to take that route.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

And *this* is exactly why I'm NOT an anonymous blogger. Because all that extraneous stress and unanswered questions is totally not worth it in my book. What I write about, anyone can read. And if they don't like it, my message to them is to stop reading. Ya know?!

Deutlich said...

I certainly understand why you would like to hang on to your anonymity, but I also feel that a) You have a lot to say and b) it's never really negative towards anyone else OR work

So, even if it WERE to happen...I think you would be okay.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I am not an anonymous blogger and now I understand why - it so so hard!!! I can only imagine having to hide everything although sometimes I would love to blog anonymously so I could really unearth some deeper feelings like you have here...such a parpadox...

rs27 said...

It's all about picking and choosing. All the bloggers I've friended on facebook know about the anonymity and never post comments on my wall pertaining to my blog.

They have earned my trust.

I don't think you have a problem with work knowing about your blog unless you trash them. Something I would never do.


Anonymous said...

I would have called you paranoid some months ago, but....
....on New Years Eve, I was watching Jeopardy and Twittering. I made some not-so nice comments about someone on the episode that was airing, something thoughtlessly unkind/sort of funny. Forgot about it. A month later, the woman I made the comment about on Twitter, the woman from TV, COMMENTED ON MY BLOG that she'd gotten wind of my not-niceness. I apologized and spent some time reflecting about what I say online and how small this world really is.

That said, I often dream of a place where I can complain openly about how irritating my job is, and how precious precious mommyblogging (my sister in law's, chiefly) makes me want to vomit forcefully.

Anonymous said...

First of all, congrats on the Printed Blog and the PBS interview (even if it has since disappeared or gone missing or whatever)!

I have not added any blogger as a friend on Facebook. In all honesty, I am terrified of letting the world know my full name. It's silly, really. Especially when I think about the reasons why. I fear being "found" by certain people in particular, one ex-coworker always comes to mind and the idea of her finding my blog scares me to no end.

And so, I remain in the "shadows." I've begun using my first name, yes. I've posted my picture on Twitter and 20SB. But I think, often, about how far I will take this act of unveiling, so to speak.

To be a "popular blogger," which you may quickly be becoming (and if so, Fricking Embrace that Shit, Girl!), one must divulge more than you or I currently feel inclined to divulge. What a conundrum. I hear you loud and clear. And I wonder, if I were in your position, how I would feel/what I would do.

As for removing posts out of fear of offending someone, somewhere...I say, with all sincerity, Do Not. It's not right for us to censor ourselves. This is our space, these blogs. And they have been written anonymously for a reason, but if, by some strange circumstance, we become unanonymous, that does not mean we should remove the things we have chosen to share. Though, I certainly understand the inclination and have considered, myself, doing the same thing.

F it. ;)
(And wow, that was a long one -- As you can imagine, and as you already know, to a large extent, I have many opinions and thoughts on this whole subject and would be more than happy to discuss it with you further! All in all, though, I just wish you luck and congratulations for having to confront such wonderful albeit challenging questions.)

Mandy said...

I worry about that too although I dont go to extraordinary lengths to hide my identity (I am going to change my blog header though) but decide to just carry on as usual.

Good luck staying anonymous!

Matt said...

I know your real name and I plan on selling it on the internet for a price.

$1000.00 USD.

I'll let you purchase your own name for $20, right now.

Think about it.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I started reading this and my first thought was "I know who you are!" but then again I'm special like that! :)

Sometimes I wish I was anonymous...

Blaez said...

i think you'll be ok. i have never seen anything "personal" on your blog. and as long as you don't have your link displayed on facebook or myspace you'll be fine.

me, however... that's a different story. if my boss was to see my blog and some of the things i've said publicly... sigh.

TishTash said...

I'm new here, so I have very little to go on to try to discover your identity. So, at least you can scratch me off as one person you don't have to worry about.

But I will come back, so who knows?

Bayjb said...

I've met you and think you're very awesome and charming. Also, I wish I had stayed more anonymous on my blog. I didn't do so well at that in the beginning and now backtracking is tough.

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

Oh, man. I had a secret blog several years ago and, though you don't seem to mind the effort of staying anonymous, it made me craaaaaaazy. I hated it worrying about it, hated feeling secretive, hated having to remember to hide things, hated telling white lies. I hate everything about it.

My blog now is pretty much an open book. I don't use my full name, but all of my real life friends read it, and SERIOUSLY, PP... it has changed my life for the better. I can't tell you what's right for you, but de-anonymizing myself was one of the best things I've ever done.

I'm still able to write openly and honestly, I'm just more accountable now and I think that's a good thing. And, best of all, now it's without fear.

[F]oxymoron said...

I don't lather up my posts with the kind of intrigue that would embarrass most people, but I still choose to blog anonymously.

It DOES take a lot of effort to maintain anonymity though, and the more I blog the more lax I seem to get. Part of being lazy - and human.

Paula said...

I'm impressed with anyone who can keep the anonymous thing up cos I'm very like "Hi everyone, it's me, Paula!" and can't really stop it. Even for the week (approximately) I tried to be anonymous after the Princess Polly's World fiasco I hated it. But if you want to stay anonymous i'm sure you will - and if you're not saying anything bad, then if it DOES eventually come out, then it probably won't be as weird as you might think!

surviving myself said...

You knocked three times right?


Anonymous said...

I've waved the white flag and have started "coming out" with the blog. For a few reasons:

Telling one friend and not the other is tricky, as the friend left out will be hurt, and I've given too much power to the friend who knows.

I reveal a lot of very personal thoughts and feelings on my blog, and it's occurred to me that if I can trust my friends to read them on the blog, why are they my friends and why do I care what they think?

Also, I'm proud of my blog and I'm tired of not "owning" it.

When it blows up in my face, you say "I told you so".... ;)

Joy @ Big Time Fancy said...

Lady, we are in the SAME BOAT. I'm a little freaked out about the 20SB meetup for that reason.

Michelle said...

I tried anonymous blogging for awhile, but I hated all the restrictions. It lasted for a week and then I went back to my own personal blog.

harper & beatrix said...

my blog is pretty new, and i just wrote about the anonymous thing today. any advice?

Jocelyn said...

It's good to think all this through. I thought I was relatively anonymous...then I rather thoughtlessly had my blog address listed on a site for my college...and now I've gotten "fan" emails from people who graduated in 1974, saying they come to my city sometimes, and would I like to meet for coffee? Helllllllll, no.

Anonymous said...

When I first began my blog it was completely and totally anonymous. A handful of people knew about it but other than that no.

Then I joined 20SB and started participating in Wednesday Workshops. I started to get to know other bloggers. So while I'm not entirely revealed, my last name is still secret from those who haven't added me on Fbook, I'm happier than when I was just known by my pseudonym.

- Kendall

benjibopper said...

interesting dilemma. since my blog is mostly creative, fiction writing, and an occasional political rant, i don't really have this issue. my blog is semi-anonymous i guess, but there is ample crossover and anyone can follow the links to my other blog, which is all about my real life and read by many 'meatspace' friends. but i can understand the desire to stay anon, be free with your words and thoughts without worrying who might take offense. but, at the root of it, this is a public forum and you always run that risk. sometimes there is an advantage to ye ole diary, under lock and key.

Larissa said...

I wouldn't handle the stress of secrecy very well, so I'm public about my blog, and have never regretted it.

Lauren said...

I'm not private with my blog, so I never worried about the big reveal. However, I Could see why some would be. It's nice to have an air of namelessness. Good luck on your continuing quest!

Yoda said...

This is something that has bothered me a lot (btw, very easy to get me bothered!), and it just wouldn't go away.

In the end, I decided to take some of my writing down. I did so because of these reasons:

1) Nobody really wants to read posts > 1 yr old.

2) Taking posts down is not equal to deleting them outright. Just marking it as private ;-)

That way, *I* get to keep my uncensored thoughts, I can continue writing, and even in the off case of anonymity being blown, I only have limited damage.

God, I sound like a moron.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

I went through this last year...and after some trimming of my archives, everything out there is fine if people read. I'm pretty visible in the professional world, so it wouldn't be hard to put 2 and 2 together. I know at least 1 person knows who I am, but they have been respectful of my privacy. Life is too short to worry as much as I did.

Anonymous said...