Sunday, June 25, 2006

To Blog Anonymously or Not

My blogging colleague Modigli just posted on this subject and I’d like to weigh in.

Some blogs are completely anonymous with no identifying details whatsoever, so those bloggers can write at length about absolutely anything without fear of anyone ever knowing it's them. While that might seem freeing, for me to do it would feel cowardly. Complete anonymity precludes real intimacy and it seems like a form of false representation. But some people really can’t afford for anyone in their life to know about the things they put on their blog, or they need complete anonymity in order to write what they need to write, so for them it makes sense.

Some bloggers start out anonymously, but then tell their friends and/or family about the blog or there are enough identifying details in their posts for people figure out it’s them. Or they build friendships with the readers of their blog and these people become friends the blogger now feels self-conscious in front of. If these bloggers have been writing without self-censure about everything from how they feel about their boss to their sexual fantasies, they can get in trouble. You can't have it both ways. If your blog is absolutely 100% anonymous, you can spill it all, but you can’t tell anyone about your blog, not even your sister, not even your lover because once one person knows about your blog you can’t control who else will. Unless you can maintain that absolute secrecy about having a blog, you have to assume anyone might read it. Because anyone might. For a 100% anonymous blog maybe it’s also better to keep some distance from your readers if building friendships with them makes you self-conscious about writing (or just get a diary).

I let all friends and family know about my blog from the start and I'm glad I did because it’s caused me to consider carefully what I write. There’s nothing on here that I wouldn’t want my relatives to know or my boss or my first dates or anyone who might google me. That might be surprising because I tend to put a lot of extremely personal stuff on here, but it’s true. And because I’m comfortable with such a high level of disclosure (even with family, co-workers, dates, etc.) my writing doesn’t feel hampered at all by the self-censure. And I think that indicates how perfect my personality is for blogging: I’m comfortable spilling almost anything to almost anyone.

So I say to Modigli and to anyone who feels their blog has become too carefully watched by people they feel self-conscious in front of: it might be time to start a new blog, one you don’t tell anyone about. Not even your family. Not even your boyfriend. This is one reason bloggers often have more than one blog.

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