Friday, May 16, 2008

The (see-through) veil of anonymity

Listening to: 'Breathe In' by Frou Frou [Details]

It occurred to me in the shower this morning (because we all know that the shower is where all inspiration is born) that there is blogworthy stuff on my mind, that I haven't blogged about. And in the very next thought wave, it occurred to me that some people (who are very dear to me) would consider the content of this potential post to be rather contentious. So I am left in a quandary: do I tell the truth and shame the devil...something I generally advocate, or do I follow my grandmother's advice: "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing"...? A few years back, I would've chosen the former without batting an eyelid, and I managed to find proof of this in a heated post from over two years ago:
People seem to have an issue with the fact that I call a spade a spade. Well, what else am I supposed to call the damn thing, a spoon? I don't mince my words, and when I have issues with things and can't speak up about it...I explode. This blog gives me an outlet for some of the things I can't speak about, but there are those things that are too sensitive even for here, regardless of the anonymity that this blog allows. Brutally honest, maybe. But honesty above all else. If people can't take the truth, they're more flawed than they think.
Ouch. And BTW wow, how I've aged!

Now I know I'm not the only one who has faced this dilemma. Out of the few blogs that I have followed closely, the majority have closed shop...with most bloggers lamenting the decline of the anonymity I mentioned above...the very feature that persuaded them to blog in the first place. The last few crusaders tend to be (and I hope they won't mind me saying this) rather paranoid about safeguarding their offline identity, and they go to great lengths to mask their sensitive posts in order to make them publishable.

The thing is, I don't believe anonymity can truly be maintained in a blog. We divulge too much about ourselves - our location, our nationality, our vocation, our physique - it wouldn't be that difficult for a diligent stalker to find out who we really are. And it would be very difficult to blog about ourselves without divulging the above information. That said, our greatest fault (as I see it) is this - we tell our loved ones about our blog. Now this is great, in terms of "at least someone reads my blog"...they will probably be the most avid readers of our blogs, out of sheer loyalty. But if you have a spat with a loved one (and good friends and family always have fights), you're screwed. So we censor ourselves for the sake of our relationships.

A small compromise, perhaps...but it kinda defeats the purpose of the blog, doesn't it? I let off steam on this blog, so that I don't have to do it in public. This is my space...my blog, my rules. If you don't like what you read, bugger off. But it's not that simple. No one wants to hurt their loved ones, even when they're causing us grief.

So what do I do? I've seen posts being password-protected, and written in code...all presumably effective methods of speaking out without hitting out. In an ideal world, I'd be able to construct a post that expresses everything I feel inside without giving absolutely any clue as to the true nature of the situation...but I know I'm not eloquent enough for that.

I think for the time being, I will censor myself. At least until my eloquence improves exponentially, or I figure out another way to rid my mind of these demons.

3 comments:

  1. In my opinion, venting on a blog is just as productive as venting on a randomly chosen tree... Maybe it's just a guy thing, but if I have a problem I either 1) confront it; 2) ignore it or 3) talk to a friend about it.

    Each of them is in some way progressive since you either fix it, move past it or get help sorting it out.

    Venting on a blog under a pseudonym in code etc. may be therapeutic (or maybe a step on the path to option 2) but is IMHO less productive. If no one can understand what your problem is then they can't help you. Therefore you may as well go and tell a tree. At least a tree provides shade ;)

    In any case, to each their own.

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  2. I think I'm mostly paranoid about people I don't know too well in real life stumbling across my blog and then me having to explain away an awkward situation where I've bitched about them on the blog.

    Those who know me and read my blog are rarely surprised by the content! The code and the secrecy was a one-off in my case, because of exceptional circumstances if you remember the story behind that incident :D

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  3. Personally I dont believe that venting on a blog is as effective as venting at a tree...for me I can generally express myself better in the written word than the spoken word. Hence the talking to a friend is only so effective...also I'm a guy..my spoken conversations tend to be short and abrupt:)

    with regard to anonymity...it's a lost cause...my modus operandi is post a sensitive post...let it marinade and then password protect it after a certain amount of time...that takes the gremlin off the net and allows the blogsters that I trust to still revisit it, if they so please.

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