Saturday, January 2, 2010

Northern exposure

When I first started this blog, I was adamant in that I wanted this to be as anonymous as humanly possible. After reading about the experiences of other bloggers, I decided that at least for the time being, I didn't want people to know who I was, especially if I was revealing things about myself of a rather personal nature.

Flash forward over a year, and now 193 posts later (including this one), and reading about the experiences of bloggers that have been outed, it makes me wonder if the ability to remain even remotely anonymous is simply a myth. I look at folks such as Petite Anglaise, and Girl With A One Track Mind (both excellent writers, mind you), and realize that while my blog isn't anywhere near as famous or visited, it still gives one pause for thought. They were both outed, and in the case of Petite, was dooced (Lost her job related to her blogging).

I have consciously avoided blogging about certain subjects in depth, such as my job and my marriage, the latter being at the request of Mrs. Nighttime. While it is a form of self-censorship, as with most bloggers we elect what, and what not to reveal out to the world. There are bloggers who are extremely open people, and their blogs are a reflection of their personalities. The only one or two subjects of an extremely personal matter that I'm open on are my liver transplant experiences, and my battle in the past with depression.

This said, I am now struggling with the notion of revealing at least, my first name and face. There are a few bloggers that I have become quite friendly with, and communicate with via Facebook or Skype, or in the case of Violet Sky, have met face-to-face, which was a nice time. So the question I pose to you out there is this:

What are your feelings about what you choose to reveal, or not to reveal, and the advantages and disadvantages of each? I'd also know what you do to protect yourselves so that not too much gets exposed.

I await your advice and counsel.


Zed said...

Well, I told you last night what I censor and how, but to repeat:
I do NOT give out:
my precise location,
where I work (when I work),
intimate details between the Twat and I,
I also censor a lot of things that go on at home including the children,
basically, anything that could lead to trouble.

The advantage of being known is that people do contact you for all sorts of things. The funniest contact was a man in the UK who contacted me to ask if he could use my blog as a reference to put the word 'twat' into that year's 'A' level syllabus!

Peter said...

In the spirit of this post, I will keep this comment semi-anonymous, but I'm sure you know who I am.

Well, I've always posted anonymous, even making sure that I changed major details that could reveal my ID too easily.

But I did post baby pictures, family stories and face-shots of my partner, with the relative anonymity allowing me to post social criticism I wouldn't have posted otherwise.

I also met a circle of local bloggers in person, but then the train derailed: we quickly appeared to have little in common in real life. After a head-on collision with a rich neurotic hausfrau from suburbia her entire social circle started ignoring me, both online and in real life.

So while a more personal approach to blogging may well have its advantages, you might say I overdosed on personal, blog-related reality TV that went sour. But fortunately, most of it was never posted out in the open.

jay said...

As you say, Mr N, we all self-censor to some extent. I'm reasonably open in some ways, not at all in others. You might notice that you very seldom see a picture of me on my blog - or on Facebook, come to that - and if it's there, it's usually very old, or fairly untypical, so you wouldn't recognise me from it anyway.

There are some subjects which are taboo for various reasons. For instance, I had an interesting encounter with Johnny Depp which will never be discussed on my blog because I made a promise to Jerry (his bodyguard) that I would not.

Also, there are some details of my private life and thoughts that might embarrass my sons if they read them, and since they both do read my blog from time to time, I refrain from posting such things.

What you can be sure of is that if it's on my blog and I said it happened, it did happen, and exactly as described. If I do write about something, it's with honesty.

Julia said...

This is something I've dealt with on and off over the years of having a blog. In the beginning, I don't think you could find my blog by searching on my name. Now, I'm fairly certain that it would be pretty easy to find my blog through a name search.

Sometime in year 2 or 3 of writing my blog (2002 or 2003), I started being a little more careful about what I said that was work related. And I've generally been open about personal stuff, but hopefully not too TMI-ish.

I guess it all depends on the focus and purpose of your blog. I think there's a way to combine professional and personal purpose but it does require a lot of self-editing. If you want to keep it a mainly personal blog, I see no reason to lose the anonymity you've established regarding the topics you talk about. Plus, as fleeting as anonymity can be online, it can be slightly reassuring that you have a place where you can discuss things in a public way without someone being able to strike out of nowhere, "Oh that's so and so!"

I don't know if this helped (laughs). I write my blog with certain details (mostly about work) missing. I include pictures of myself, of places I've been, and my house. I always try to remember that my dad knows I have a blog and has read it before. That can be the best self-censor of all.

Mr. Nighttime said...

Zed - LOL! This means you can add "Higher Education Consultant" to your CV.

Julia - Great advice, and I see what you mean when you wrote: "Plus, as fleeting as anonymity can be online, it can be slightly reassuring that you have a place where you can discuss things in a public way without someone being able to strike out of nowhere, "Oh that's so and so!"" When are you and Matt coming into town again?

Peter - But didn't you also run afoul of the local (if not the state) government with certain posts you made? Yeah, I know the hausfrau you're referring to.

jay - Most assuredly, your honesty shines through in all of your blogposts. Now about that Depp story, just e-mail it to me on Facebook... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Harold!! Don't, whatever you do, reveal personal information about yourself. Most especially, as we discussed, do not post the pictures of you rehearsing "Equus" with your goat. That's not method acting. That's just scary.

Mr. Nighttime said...

Thou doth protest too much, Anon. Twas no goat you saw me with. That was last year...and you STILL keep getting my name wrong... ;-)

Bina said...

Honestly, I have nothing to hide and as you can tell from reading my blog (which you have been for quite a while) there isn't much that I DON'T put out there. I won't lose my job, or my kids, or my house, maybe my husband would get really mad??? But whatever.

Having said that, I'm not that important of a person that I have to worry about hiding myself from anyone. I highly doubt the blog world would give a flying crap to find out that I'm just your average, every-day person, writing a blog.

Now, if I were rich, or famous, you can bet your sweet tight ass that I would NEVER reveal anything about myself.

Uh oh, did I just reveal something about you? (hee hee)

Mr. Nighttime said...

Bina - Do you know something about my ass that I don't? ;-)

Guyana-Gyal said...

I've been meaning to respond this this ever since!

Do you know how some children blab every single thing that takes place in the home? I was one of those children. I'd blab even now.
But, unfortunately, I live in a place where, if you step on corns, you can get hurt. Some things I DARE NOT talk about on the blog.

I blog anonymously. I change names of people, I change their features...what is left, I hope, is the important part...the essence of the story.

In a way, that's good because it's a challenge.