blogging in a world of anonymity
I have started to become a little more active with blogging in this new year… not only in posting more to my own page, but also reading and interacting with blogs written by others. In doing so I have noticed that quite a few people, particularly women, tend to blog somewhat anonymously. Sure, some of them may give a vague description of where they are writing from, but then won’t post their name or any identifiable pictures. Others will post a picture or two of themselves, but the description of where they live is even more vague, and again no names. There are also those who don’t appear to care much about posting pictures of themselves, mentioning their name, and telling us where they are from. I don’t really have any problems with any of these scenarios, I am merely making an observation. Whatever allows individuals to accomplish their personal form of expression the most comfortably is fine with me. I suppose that in these modern times, some people feel the need to be more cautious about releasing too much personal information on the Internet for anyone who stumbles across it to see, and maybe that is a prudent approach.
I was a bit shy as a youngster, and ended up developing into an adult who is a bit of an introvert. As a child and teenager, I was a bit socially awkward and grew accustomed to the taste of my own foot. However, as I’ve matured I have learned how to at least interact in social situations, in an effort to be perceived as more “normal.” Now I can go to a company-sponsored function, like a Christmas party, and interact with others without embarrassing myself, even carry on intelligent conversations about myriad topics… but the truth of the matter is that in most cases I would rather be home alone watching a movie or doing something else by myself. I’ve never really been a “social butterfly” so I don’t have a large number of personal friends in real life, just those few that I have made in passing through this life… school friends, friends gathered while in relationships, family, etc. My list of facebook “friends” has hovered around 140 people for a while now. A large portion of those are people I know from school, over 30 years ago, and most of them I haven’t seen since. Some of the people in my list are family, or extended family (some even living in other countries)… some are co-workers, both past and present… and still others are remnants of previous long-term relationships, people that I interacted with where I was at that particular time in my life. I even have a friend in my list who I “met” online, through interacting with their blog, but who I have never met in real life. I am not the type who feels the need to actively go out and seek new friends to hang out with. With work, and all my interests and hobbies, I have plenty to keep me busy. Sure, sometimes it would be nice to have some companionship (particularly of the female persuasion) in my personal life, but most of the time it doesn’t bother me to be alone. This particular facet of my personality has been a source of strife in some of my past relationships. I’ve had partners ask me “why don’t you have more friends?,” or “why don’t you engage in some activities where you can make more friends?” I was made to feel “abnormal” because I didn’t feel the need to have more friends to interact with in my life.
When I first decided to start blogging a few years ago (heck, almost 4 years have passed now), I reflected briefly upon what I wanted to accomplish with my blogging. I thought that it might be a good outlet to share a little bit of the happenings in my rather insignificant life with the rest of the world. I thought that this blogging thing might allow me some brief contact with other, like-minded individuals. I might be able to have some of that personal interaction without the risk, or work required to develop a close, personal relationship with someone. Additionally, I wanted to be able to use it as an outlet to just “talk”… to put things “out there,” even if nobody else was “listening.” I figured that it might be a good form of self-therapy, to deal with any issues I might be having with depression, or frustrations, or anything else that might be bothering me. Sometimes putting something in writing can have a cathartic affect, somehow making issues seem more tangible, and able to be dealt with more quickly and easily… rather than keeping them bottled up inside. I suppose that putting my weight-loss goals into a blog post is a small example of that. I’ve known for a few years now that I really should be doing something to improve my health. By stating it “in print,” for all the world to see, it finally makes it more real. Before, when it was just me, talking to myself in my head, I could always tell myself what I should be doing… just before I grabbed that extra cookie or a bowl of ice cream and sat down on the couch to watch more TV, rather than engaging in some manner of physical exercise. Now that I’ve put it out there in the blogosphere (as well as on facebook), I feel that I’m more responsible for making it happen, and it keeps me more motivated. Now I’m not just letting myself down if I fail, but also all the people who have read my stated goals and who are encouraging me to succeed.
At the beginning, before my first words ever hit the virtual page, the topic of anonymity ran through my mind. Should I post anonymously, or should I give enough personal information about myself to keep things interesting? I’m sure that I am not the only one who has things bottled up in their head that they would not be willing to share with most people unless it was in a completely anonymous setting. So initially, I thought “why not just post two blogs… one of them as me, and the other one kept completely anonymous?” So initially that’s what I did. As you may be able to tell from my infrequent early posts, I had a hard enough time keeping up with one blog, let alone two of them. In the end, the “real me” won out and this blog is the result. I still have things inside my head that I will never write about here; I just keep them tucked away, bottled up in the dark recesses of my mind.
So the next decisions to be made were “how much do I share about myself?”… “do I post pictures of myself?”… “do I say where I live?”… “do I give enough information that anyone with a modicum of investigative skills would be able to find me?” In the end it came down to the fact that I’m not one who lives in fear of being stalked, or hunted down because I posted something that might have offended someone. In the overall scheme of things, I’m just one of many fairly insignificant, middle-aged guys, who isn’t famous, who doesn’t make a tremendous amount of money (i.e. not worth finding just to steal from), and who, once a couple of generations of family have passed, will probably just be a footnote in someone’s family tree… otherwise, forgotten. If someone wants to expend the effort to find me “in real life”… let them. That said, I’m not entirely stupid. While I state the city in California that I live closest to (I live in a suburb), I’m not posting a Google Street View map with an arrow pointing to my house and saying “I live here.” I have no problems posting pictures of myself, my possessions, or things nearby. I’m not going to give my name, but I’ll tell you anything about me as a person that you might (or might not) want to know. I don’t mind talking about my family status, or my relationship history (yet to come… soon). I think some of these things are just common sense. However, once I’ve befriended someone, even through a blog setting, I’m pretty open and trusting… an “open book.” As I mentioned previously, I’ve even “friended” someone on facebook who I “met” through a blog.
With what I’ve written and the pictures I’ve posted thus far, and with so many things that I still have on my list “to blog about” (relationships, music, my relationship with food, my beliefs and philosophy about life, etc.), I’m sure that someone will be able to accurately depict who I am as a person, even if they don’t have my name and current mailing address. After all, isn’t who we are as a person, and the way we live our lives the most important thing? How many people really know the Dalai Lama‘s given name?