An Unoriginal, Overwrought Reflection about Blogging “Anonymously” & a PSA

If you go to a free stock photo site and type “anonymous” as a search term, you will mostly get the images of V for Vendetta style Guy Fawkes masks, which strikes me as somewhat ironic.
Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixabay

This is probably going to be a pretty stupid, self-centered read, especially for anyone who has already decided not to blog anonymously.

I intended to keep this blog anonymous. Yes, there was a small part of me that relished the idea of becoming blogger-famous although I don’t think that blogger-fame is really a thing anymore or that blogger-book deals are really happening given the state of the publishing industry. Also, this blog was not destined to be a great work of literary masterpiece worthy of a book deal. So there didn’t seem to be a huge advantage to not being anonymous.

Also, I married Husband, who is kind of a paranoid lunatic about privacy. I’ll go back to this point in a moment.

So I hid identifiers like location, industry/profession, and face. Some things are easier to hide than others. For example, I have no problem not sharing a photo of myself, because my face is not especially attractive or photogenic, so adding a photo of myself would not enhance my blog in any way. Other things are more challenging. It would be nice not to have to speak about my industry/profession so obliquely, but because it’s somewhat niche, I don’t feel comfortable being more specific.

Then there are certain things I can’t hide. I can’t make up family members I don’t have. I think and write like an American because I am American. I’m obviously Jewish. My writing voice is really feminine. As much as I hate young people generally, I can’t convincingly pretend to be part of another age demographic. I just don’t sound like, say, a 20-year-old or a 60-year-old. I get excited about things I’m into, and that reflects in the comments I leave (and vice-versa – I can’t really fake interest in a hobby I don’t have).

In any case, I have posts that I would like to publish that will include more identifiers. Granted, anonymity on the internet was always an illusion. But I have to accept that the more identifiers I post, the more likely it is that someone in my in-person life, eg. family members, friends, coworkers, potential employers, can find this blog. And there is probably a reason I didn’t share what I’ve written here with them directly. Recently, I re-read through my posts with the lens of, Would I care if my parents/siblings/friends/coworkers/potential future employers* read this? and Should I unpublish this so they won’t?

[*I didn’t mention Husband here because I already know how Husband feels about this. He knows about the blog. He is not thrilled. He knows the blog name and could read it at any time, but hasn’t done so because he has no interest.]

It was a funny exercise, realizing what I did and did not care about certain people knowing, and then trying to decide how much I cared. Some things are obvious. I can’t have anyone work-related find out that I hate my job and industry or that I’m job-hunting or that I’m ill-prepared for this certification exam. I can’t tell my family that our marriage is a mess because Husband is their son-in-law/brother-in-law and they have a relationship with him too. True, depression and getting long overdue help for it is hardly unique and nothing to be ashamed of, but I haven’t told my family about that and don’t really want to, even though my family is actually comprised of lovely, caring, non-judgmental people.

Then there were the surprises. Like I would never tell my mother or my coworkers that I’ve been having sex fantasies about women and am probably only 80% straight, but somehow, that seems far less incriminating than telling them I hate being an aunt or that my bathroom fell apart. I’d actually like to be more open to family and Jewish community about not wanting to keep Shabbat anymore, but I’m uncomfortable with coworkers/employers reading that because I don’t feel that my job deserves that extra time on Fridays (and in the work-from-home world, it’s not all that much extra time anyway). My family doesn’t really know that I have cheated on relationships in the past, but I’m open about it to Husband and friends (I’m not proud, but I find it stupid to lie or hide), so I don’t particularly care if they read that. And then there are the posts that say more than I should have, but that I like so much that I don’t really want to take down, even if I should.

Anyway, here is the PSA: you might start to see some of these posts unpublished in the future (including this one). Know that, even if you notice some posts removed, I appreciate you having read them. Know that I saw your likes and comments, saw that you cared, and that it meant something to me, even if I later took the post down. Thank you.

Thank you: Worth only 18 points in Scrabble (except not really because it wouldn’t count as a permitted single-word play) but worth a whole lot to me! Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

48 comments

    • I can’t take credit for my awesome commenters, but thanks! I suppose these are thoughts that many bloggers go through.

      Interestingly enough, I posted this intending to take down some posts…and then I re-read all my posts and decided I didn’t want to take anything down. Even the more identifying or poorly written posts, I just didn’t want to remove anything. Come what may…

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I worked in media for decades, so anonymity has never been an option. That said, my best friend, and my boyfriend are meticulously paranoid about preserving their anonymity. We’ve come to the understanding that I will use pseudonyms whenever I refer to them in my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I used to be afraid of my poems being published and friends and rellies reading them but my editor told me not to worry, that no one reads poetry anyway, but even so I wrote a few deeply personal poems in an ironically impersonal way 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ah. I was going to say, in reply to ” especially attractive or photogenic, so adding a photo of myself would not enhance my blog in any way”
    that some folks put up a photo just so that others will know the face behind to whom they are ‘talking,’ but you want to be anonymous, so that it is a moot point. But personally, I only put my photo up because so many people (myself included) like to ‘see’ who we are corresponding with, when possible.

    stay safe,
    -shira

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah. I agree with this, Shira.

      You know, mostly because of JYP, but also because of some other bloggers, I’ve been thinking about anonymity recently. There are things I cannot post about related to work, marriage, my childhood, etc., because of my public identity and the fact that so many people in my life know about and sometimes read my blog. I like being public, but I somewhat envy anonymous bloggers for being able to write anything at all that comes to their minds.

      -David

      Liked by 3 people

      • Fair enough, David. I’ve had to bury, backpost, and semi-wipe many of my old posts as I decided last year that my blog needed to look more … less … to be taken seriously.
        So, I get it, with not posting stuff (or, for me, I can get away with back-posting or back-dating posts to some other relevant or related time, since so few folks will actually spot it, I think) that may interfere with a job search or current job, relationships, etc. I used to keep several different blogs, but now I just rely on the fact that pretty much no one I know IRL bothers with my writing, and also that I have nearly no more tolerance for total self-censorship (I admit that I do self-censor alot, still, but I often write in my private journal, in several different languages, I admit, partly because I’ve had my diary read in the past: being a polyglot hath it’s small merits).
        sorry, this reply seems to be getting really messy.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Shavuah Tov (and almost Chodesh -Pesach Cleaning! Tov Nissan!), David:

          Languages: have you got a job offer for me, David? 🙂
          I speak Castilian and Mexican Spanish fluently, speak the French of the continent fluently and understand Quebecois, I understand Turkish and speak it passably, and I still read TaNaCh fairly easily without resorting to the interlinear. I’m also half-heartedly working on modern Greek, but so far I can only get by with survival basics (my Greek friends can understand me in a 10 minute conversation on most basic issues before I have to switch back into English).

          I can learn another language if you know of an opening for a boarding school teacher, pretty much anywhere in the world where HRW and AI don’t condemn the government for HR abuses. 🙂

          My name is mostly made up:
          The government and my family of origin (the few bios who bother with me) call me
          Destinie Antoinette Jones,
          but
          people who like me call me Shira,
          and
          I’ve merely added my Bourke, Mayo, Hall, West, Manzilla, etc ancestral names to honor the ancestors whom I have traced and found histories for, as a way of honoring that part of myself, for we all stand upon the shoulders of those who came before us, no?

          In weary service to HumanKind,
          -Shira

          Liked by 2 people

        • I’ve merely added my Bourke, Mayo, Hall, West, Manzilla, etc ancestral names to honor the ancestors whom I have traced and found histories for, as a way of honoring that part of myself, for we all stand upon the shoulders of those who came before us, no?

          That is amazing.

          And the amount of languages you know is amazing. Holy shamoley, Shira!

          Thank you for answering in such depth ❤

          Shavua Tov,
          David

          Liked by 2 people

        • Um, you are welcome, David, and thank you, but I am not amazing at all, for a polyglot. In fact, I barely qualify!
          🙂
          Four languages (well, let me see, if I don’t count my native language, then spanish, french, turkish, and maybe Torah Hebrew) is normal, but there are “super polyglots” of whose level I could not even dream of reaching.
          🙂

          Thank you, David, for taking interest in such depth.
          🙂
          Shavua Tov,
          -Shira haPetite

          Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I’m not sure about anything anything, but yes, I’ve definitely had more freedom to write whatever. But the reality is there’s consequences to everything. If I wanted to write something scholarly or expert opinions or if I wanted to write about something related to my profession on my anonymous blog, I’m not going to be taken all that seriously. for instance. I’m ok with that because I mostly created this blog without serious aspirations for it, but at the end of the day, it’s really about what you want your blog to be.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I get this. It is weird sometimes to converse and build friendships with other bloggers, and yet the relationship can be so uneven depending on the different degrees of openness/anonymity. I’m guilty of perpetuating the unevenness, but some things are just outside my comfort zone.
      You stay safe too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, JYP, you have to protect yourself, and that is fine and fair. No relationship is every really fully open, even in person IRL. Sometimes those are the least ‘real’ relationships, actually.
        As a writer, I value the written word, and expect anyone close to me to read my writing, so if that doesn’t happen, I don’t really trust those ‘close’ to me to be close. In any case, some things are just easier to write, and let them be read for further questions, “if you care enough to follow them into hell.” (-Garibaldi, Season 3…)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Totally agree with you. I actually dislike the distinction between online and offline life where offline life is “IRL”. I just hate the term. Some people are a lot more real online than in person. And who is to say online life isn’t real?

          I’m reminded of a high school English teacher telling us why she hated the term “the real world” as being synonymous with life outside school. Sure, life outside of school is different, but it doesn’t make the experiences and challenges of a child or a teenager any less real or valid.

          Your point about want the people close to you to read your writing is spot-on. I think in my case, it depends on the person and the writing. But certainly, if someone close to me has access to my writing, but not interest, well, I don’t feel so close to them either.

          Liked by 1 person

        • And who is to say how important one’s online life is, compared to offline?
          Exactly.
          And same with school: one’s experiences in school are pretty much all one has, at that point, but I also understand folks who want kids to understand that school is a place where there is at least a bit more control around how much abuse can be meted out, whereas outside of school, almost all bets are off: students generally have some protection within the school walls, but on the street, at the bus stop, walking (if one is stupid enough) through Dupont Circle back in the 80’s, or even in the workplace, one is more vulnerable to bullies, threats to livelihood, even threats to one’s life, more so than in school (in general: we did have some kids die in non-standard ways, like at a football game, and some got shot, while I was in school, but it was not the norm on school premises back then). So I can see both points of view: they can both be valid.
          and again;
          Exactly: if a person has no interest in what I write, to me, it says that that person does not really want to know all of me. I’m not asking for support of my writing, but curiosity about it is an absolute requirement, as I would want to read everything that a person close to me wrote (if only out of self-protection!).

          Liked by 1 person

        • Agree. We’d like to believe that childhood/school is a time of of innocence (and in my case, it really was) but the sad reality is that many kids witness and face abuse, neglect, disease, poverty, substance abuse, and death at a sadly young age. It’s almost cruel to tell kids that what they’re experiencing isn’t the real world. I know that’s not what people mean when they say that; the phrase just bugs me.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Quite understandably. But we knew what adults meant when they (and sometimes we, ourselves also) said that, in school.
          We knew that school was all that was standing between us and jail or the street, or worse. So we knew what the stakes were for us if we did not do well in school. School might have been bad, but the alternative could be worse than death itself, for those of us who were not yet ready to throw in the towel.
          But I get it, and I can understand what you mean, it is a condescending phrase no matter when or where it is used, generally.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it’s good to remove posts you’re uncomfortable with for any reason. I do it all the time. Around 10 years ago, I used to post other people’s poetry when it moved me. I’m deleting all those now. They don’t add anything to my blog, which should be about me. It’s our space to arrange as we see fit… and we have the right to change our mind! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have a history of blogging, or blog commenting publicly and then thinking better of it and making it anonymous or private, so you did well to start private. As people said above, it’s hard to imagine many people finding this blog, reading it in detail and realising it’s you, but that doesn’t stop the paranoid “What if… ?” thoughts.

    Are you still intending to blog in the future? I was a bit worried that the PSA was going to be more of a goodbye.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think discoverability is a hard thing to judge, because the automatic tendency is to try to evaluate the likelihood that people would be able to identify you if they stumbled across your blog. The chances of that may be moderate, but the chances of them stumbling across the blog in the first place are probably quite low. When people are trying to Google-stalk somebody (not that I know anything about that… um, yeah…), they’re starting with things they know about you, like name, city, profession, employer, where they went to school, names of family members, etc. None of those things point to your blog. And they could theoretically find you by searching something like young Jewish professional blogger, but that would be an odd thing to think of to search for.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I totally understand blogging anonymously – I did that too (with this same blog account).

    But I feel that you’re being overly anxious about being discovered – I mean – even if somebody who knows you in RL searched for your name, they wouldn’t find this blog. There are literally millions of blogs on the Internet – I cannot fathom how anybody from your RL could ever discover your blog.

    Do this exercise – go on Google and try searching for yourself in different way with different word combinations. I promise that you will not find this blog.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.