Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Anonymity and honesty

Almost a year ago I made a blog post - Absence - that details this. Instead of ranting once again about the private/public dual nature of blogs I'll let you read that post at your leisure. Anything I could say on the subject I have already said there and my opinions have not changed.

He knows anonymity is important

I once asked the question about openness and honesty on the internet with a friend who lives in Wisconsin. He's an administrator of a webforum I'm active with and has seen a lot of what the internet has to offer. His response was partially that if people are open and honest in a community then others who join will take that precedent and go with it as well. The second factor he said was anonymity. Being anonymous allows someone to do close to whatever they want without fear of repercussion, whether that is being a bigot and laughing at someone committing suicide or being open about their life, feelings, thoughts, and who they truly are. It doesn't matter - they're under an alias. Even if anyone does know my real name, does it really matter if a girl in Poland knows what I'm thinking? By contrast, I live with my brother, if he knows what I'm thinking that could have very direct consequences because how we interact could change.

I'm not an archaeologist

Despite saying I don't wish to repeat my previous post I can already see that I am. What I'm trying to say is that at the end of that post a comment was left that said "or you could just turn your blog to private in your settings" thus avoiding the inability to be completely open; if I'm the only one who reads it then I can write whatever I wish, completely uncensored. I could set it to private. I could block out everyone I didn't want to read it. I know the option exists but it would largely defeat the purpose. I write it knowing others read it. What this means is that I write so that others will read it - I write hoping that others will read it. A private weblog to me would be meaningless; if no one will read what I write, why should I write? My day-to-day thoughts and actions may be interesting to my grandchildren should I ever have them, but even that seems somewhat arrogant. Why would anyone care what I do in my day-to-day life? Why should they care?

Largely it may be more a matter of how I write instead of what I write. If I write knowing or wanting others to read what I'm writing I'll do so with a more literary approach instead of a straightforward historical one. A blog post saying "I went to the store today. I bought eggs, milk, bread, peanut butter, and grapes. I wanted bananas but they were out. I seem to eat a lot of bread. I just bought a loaf three days ago and I was already out by today. Maybe I should cut back on eating bread." isn't exactly fun to read despite the accuracy of it. By writing with the expectation of people reading I will try to make it more prose than history.

A boring blog post

I'll insert personal insights or thoughts, maybe attempt a humorous reference or joke to make it more entertaining. At the same time I don't think I really miss any details of my life exactly. When things I feel important do occur I do write about them; I wrote about my new computer and the issues with it and about buying my guitar and the thoughts I had about it. On the days when all I do is go to work, maybe go to the gym, watch a movie, then go to bed, I don't feel that chronicling it would be of much interest to read. Those are the days I write about whatever topic happens to be on my mind, like today.


I hope people find what I write interesting. I've been told I have some skill in writing and I believe I use punctuation properly if nothing else. That has to count for something. Right?

1 comment:

Jen said...

I typed up a really long post detailing EXACTLY how I feel right now down to every last excruciating detail. But I'm not allowed to post anonymously, so I deleted it.

Shame.