Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pseudo-Anonymity

It seems, and this is a fact that flatters and disturbs me, that this blog is actually still being read, not merely by safely anonymous strangers but by people within a degree or two of separation from me, myself, personally. For that matter, who can say but that my family members might not be checking in from time to time? One would have thought the months+ delays between posts would have thrown them off my track, but this does not seem to be the case.

Well, this is in many ways worrisome and I will tell you why. Bloggery- particularly on a most defunct blog- has a comforting sensation of anonymity. At the same time, it allows a sense of officialdom that thoughts and sentiments lack when confined to your own computer or your own mind. The best blog, I am convinced, or at least the best blog in the narrow category of blog-as-diary, which this blog, largely although not exclusively, but definitely increasingly, is, would be one that could be read by anyone but isn't. (Yes, that was a sentence. Ish.) A blog that is read by strangers is nearly as good because everyone knows that strangers aren't really people.

What such anonymity allows is the expression of thoughts/sentiments without complete endorsement. I read a lovely theory of privacy that included the idea that access to people's thoughts is wrong because what is important is the thoughts that people choose to endorse by granting them verbal (or other) expression. Anonymous blogging is not the same as saying something because it does not imply the same level of endorsement.

For me, this is particularly critical when it comes to my angst. I angst rather more than I strictly speaking approve of, and therefore I tend not to endorse such angst by sharing it with others. I do, somewhat hypocritically, write poems with the angst, but I regard that as fair play because: 1) I rarely do anything further with the poems and 2)I try to make sure that they are decent poems and worth existing (it's a low bar, but I think it would keep out most of the angsty poetry out their). And also I may blog the angst- more recently since I became more convinced that nobody who knew me would read it.

The upshot of all this is that my blogging needs to become

1) more anonymous: which would mean killing this blog, so there's that.
2) less honest: which would probably entail less existing (although there's not a lot of room for that with this particular blog).
or
3) less blog-as-diary and more blog-as-random-thoughts, which is all very well and good but I had been hoping that the blog would, to a small degree, chronicle the way I was at this age so that I can read it in a couple years when I have completely forgotten. (I already can barely envision my high school self. It's weird).

8 comments:

Erachet said...

I love your blog. It's one of the few I actually read when a post comes up on my google reader. That being said, if you wish to become more private, you can through blogger. There are ways to make your blog visible only to yourself or only to yourself and a select group of people.

But I do think your blog is wonderful.

e-kvetcher said...

Tobie, I had exactly the same thoughts a few months ago. I'd even go one step further. Even an anonymous blogger is constrained by the identity he/she creates after posting for a while and interacting with others through comments on their own and others' blogs.

I often feel that my blog persona has been established as X, and I feel uncomfortable posting or commenting as e-kvetcher when I want to express thoughts which would corrupt that persona...

Tobie said...

Erachat: thanks!

E-Kvetcher: that's interesting. I'm not sure I participate enough in the blogger community to have created a personality, but I certainly decide whether or not to link back to my blog when leaving comments based on what the comment is and/or what my latest post was.

Chava said...

Tobie- Solution: Tell me to stop reading your blog, and to stop telling people to read it because it's awesome.

Erachet- It was my telling Tobie that you brought her recent post to my attention that inspired this one. I blame myself for being dumb and spilling the beans.

Tobie said...

Chava, you're only the immediate cause- it's not unlikely at all that my family has been reading stuff too and in any case, the blogosphere is simply not as anonymous as we like to pretend the blogosphere is and the sooner one realizes that, the better for all concerned.

Anonymous said...

Well Tobie you've probably figured out that some of your family members do check in from time to time. But we do it because we love you. And because we lead such boring and uninteresting lives ourselves. I do understand, though, why you prefer that your readers be strangersand certainly not family. Maybe, Tobie, that's why you and e-kvetcher never get together when you visit Skokie. Well, that and the introductions.

"Honey, this is the young girl I met over the internet"

Suddenly e-kvethcher's blog joins yours in the defunctosphere.

It would be really awesome if you could exclude specific individuals or isp addresses from viewing your blog. It would be downright funny if you would do that to Rachel or me or, of course, Mike, especially if you could tailor the message given to each excluded individual. "The blog administrator thinks you suck" or "The blog administrator thinks you're Mike" Of course you could never do that to your Mother so I guess your stuck with one of the aforementioned options.

Shmuli

Anonymous said...

On second thought, Mom could be fooled with a generic error message.
Rachel

Tobie said...

Wow, you kids are still reading this? Honestly, doesn't rampant neglect not turn off any readers any more?

If I really wanted to, I would start a new blog and not tell any of you about it. The fact that I don't do so indicates that I do not wish to do so. I guess I enjoy having an audience. I just... need to be less self-indulgent.