Blog Club: Where I stand on anonymity

An attempt at taking a photograph of a meetup while preserving some anonymity!

When I first started blogging, I was terrified of people knowing that it was me. I made a couple of attempts at setting up new blogs like that and have deleted them, so quickly that nothing even appears in the Internet Archive.

I soon understood that for me the problem was going to be that nobody would find me. It’s a common feeling that I’ve heard other bloggers write about, the stepping out and writing online feels like you’re going to be immediately seen and disapproved of or something.

I got lots of confidence and encouragement by reading other people’s blogs. There were some people who really *needed* to be anonymous, but most people really *needed* to be seen and known for who they were and that was me too.

We’ve been on a long journey with this, the fundamental questions that come up when you use a reflective tool like blogging are Who am I? Who do I want to be? Who do other people think I am? Do I want to change what people think? Can I change it? Can I change who I am? Am I really who I think I am.

And identity has become hugely political. Me being a middle-aged, middle-class white man has a relevance that wasn’t talked about so much ten years ago or more. It means that I pay more attention (or try to) to what I say in public and what role I play in society. And how I am perceived online is a big part of that.

This also brings me back to thinking about how much control I really have over how I’m perceived. How much control do you think the President of the United States has over perceptions? How much control do you think he *thinks* he has?

I have bits of my life that I don’t talk about online. I’ve been thinking about that lately. There isn’t anything really in me to be ashamed of, what I think needs to be kept private often actually benefits from being opened up and having the light shone on it. But some doors remain closed. I’m working on it…

I’m at Blog Club, a weekly meetup run by Bernie Mitchell. We’ve just sat and talked about goals for the next 5 years and one of the things that came up was “anonymity”, there are people here struggling with how to get well known while keeping their identity secret. Or talking about things that they’ve done without breaking non-disclosure agreements.

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