February 15th, 2005

Anonymities Anonymous

One somewhat-less-than-a-household-word blogger I like to read sometimes is The Anchoress. One of the things I like about The Anchoress is that she’s anonymous, and unapologetic about it. In this post she explains why.

I, too, am anonymous, not to mention obscure—a great deal more obscure than The Anchoress. It seems that, for the time being, I intend to remain anonymous, although lately I’ve been trying to do a thing or two to make the obscurity a little less profound. At one point I had an offer to be quoted by one of the rather well-known blogs, but the blogger told me he didn’t link to anonymous bloggers, and so I’d have to reveal my true identity before I’d get the spotlight. Although his link wasn’t quite up there with the BBC gig The Anchoress was offered, still, for me, it was a relatively Biggish Deal. So I thought long and hard about whether to reveal my identity for a chance at my 1.5 seconds of blogger fame.

But I declined. Overall, I’ve found that the whole idea of celebrity, however fleeting, has never seemed attractive to me. I’m interested in trying to achieve something–communicating ideas, or trying to perform work I can be proud of. I’m not a social recluse, but I have never wanted to be well-known to a large community of people I’ve never met—although, honestly, at this point, it’s not as though I’m in any grave danger of that.

I don’t know how commonplace such a feeling is, but I see from her post that The Anchoress appears to share it. I have always preferred to be behind the scenes, and in fact, as a therapist-in-training, my very favorite place to be was always behind the two-way mirror, making suggestions to another therapist who was the one actually working with the clients. And one of the reasons I like to write is an attraction to the anonymity of it, the once-removed quality. I think many writers are drawn to this paradoxical element of writing—of allowing them to reveal themselves while simultaneously not really revealing themselves at all, or at least controlling the revelations. Of course, some writers are hams, and feed on celebrity, and many love to do readings in front of an actual public of living and breathing people. But others like to stay far away from that sort of thing.

In the blogosphere, I have nothing but admiration for those who use their names and jump unveiled right into the very thick of it. But some of us—including even such blogger luminaries as Wretchard—prefer, for a multiplicity of reasons, to proffer observations from behind the shelter of a nom de plume. Nom de plumes have an old and illustrious history, and are really nothing to be ashamed of, although there are those in the somewhat macho atmosphere of the blogosphere who probably think they are evidence of cowardice, and are somehow less-than-honorable.

In addition to these already-discussed matters of temperament (not as simple as, although related to, introversion vs. extraversion), I think that many of us who choose to remain anonymous are interested in setting boundaries between the different aspects of our lives. My other activities (“real work”?) are totally apolitical and done under my real name, and I’ve decided I want to keep those worlds very separate from my blogging.

So, call us cowardly, call us shy, call us macaroni—we anonymous bloggers have rights, too. I hereby invite all other anonymous bloggers to assemble as a new support group: Anonymities Anonymous (AA). Shout it loud: we’re anonymous, and we’re proud!

3 Responses to “Anonymities Anonymous”

  1. br549 Says:

    I would never want to be famous, as in recognizable by many, for any reason. I like going where I want when I want, all comfy in a blanket of anonymity.

  2. Last Door Says:

    I’ve only very recently decided to start blogging but under anonymity to me seems the most logical option at the moment.
    I am a psychiatrist. I like to leave work at work and keep my political opinions unintermingled with my professional life.
    I could throw off the anonymity and probably manage to cope with the extra time spent on bloggers who are patients seeking “medical advice” and discreditors who dismiss my political arguments due to the fact I prescribe mind-altering drugs. But I definitely could not handle the never ending worry my wife would have over this and other professional issues should I choose to go “nomi-naked”.
    /raises hand. My name is “Last Door” and I’m an “anonymite”. …sniff….

  3. Neil C. Reinhardt Says:

    While I have nothing against those who use screen names when bloging or posting comments, those who attack, insult and/or slander others while using them have no integrity, honesty or honor and are cowards for doing so

    As an Agnostic, Atheist Activist, I am very disappointed by the Athiests in an Athiest forum named “Rants ‘n Raves” who hide behind their screen names while acting like idiots.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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