Monday, February 21, 2011

Thanks a lot, Oprah, for blowing my cover.

Maybe it's just me, but everywhere I turn on the interwebs lately, people are talking about Internet anonymity and how it's truly a farce. How there's no such thing, and you should never write anything on your blog that you wouldn't want broadcast on the evening news. How easy it is for people to find out who you really are, and any attempts at anonymity are both fruitless and delusional.

Cue intense fear and current radio silence here at Never That Easy.

I mean, I know that what I write here is not secret, but, back when I first started, I thought it would be impossible for anybody I actually knew to track me down. This is not because I am any great whiz at the complexities of Internet anonymity, but more because I am stupid: I was using my own, very first ever and totally known by everyone in my life e-mail address, and - as I found out when one of my sisters did find me - this site was the Google search result of entering my e-mail address. Talk about naive. (Although, in my defense, I couldn't imagine that anyone in my family would actually be bored enough to put my e-mail address into a search engine, but it turns out that I had obviously underestimated the extent to which certain people would procrastinate at boring office jobs.)

I have since published pictures of just about everyone in my family and written posts with enough identifying information that there could be no mistake - if someone who knows me happens to wander past, then they will know it is me. Which made me start wondering if I should just stop trying to hide behind the three initials, and start using my own name.

It made me wonder that for about .3 seconds, anyways.

I admire people who write under their real names, or even pseudonyms but you know who they are in real life (Dooce = Heather, for example), but I am just not ready to be one of them. I had a horrible nightmare a while ago that Oprah used one of my Internet comments - a comment I am particularly proud of because I managed to say what I wanted to say and avoid the Internet trolls at the same time, which you might know is particularly difficult on some sites - in a show about the topic we were discussing (budget cuts and Planned Parenthood's cuts, specifically). And when she read the comment, behind her on that big screen, she showed a picture my site. And she mentions that I am a blogger with a chronic illness, and you can read more of what I said at the site name.

And of course, in the dream, I am watching it with my mom, who is not focusing 100% : like me she's a TV multi-tasker, so she's usually on the computer or crocheting while she mostly listens to what's going on. And I am breaking out into a cold sweat, and trying to not show that I am panicking and - here's something you all don't know about me, because we haven't met in person, but in person? I am a horrible liar.

Everyone in my family agrees (although I don't, because I can keep secrets, which is a form of lying, so there) that between my not being able to make eye contact & a dislike for lying on a whole, I am served particularly unwell when presented with the task. I mostly get a lot of "Why do you even bother trying to lie?"

So in the dream, trying to hide that I am going to throw up because there is my baby picture up on Oprah's show (and while many other people might not recognize my baby picture, which was good thinking six years ago when I was trying to pick a damn avatar), my mom certainly would, so I must keep her from looking up.

Thankfully, since I sleep like crap, I woke up then and got to obsess over the dream while wide awake and tossing and turning. And all I could think of was that instead of being proud that someone had liked what I had written well enough to quote it, and to say to other people, 'hey, check this out,' I was so worried about my family knowing about the site that I wanted to throw something at the TV just so she wouldn't see my picture.

I think that shows a certain reluctance to embrace the openness of using my own name, how about you?

I've definitely said some things here that would hurt them, and I don't have any interest in doing that. I've definitely said some things that they wouldn't understand or that I'd rather not have to defend to them. It's just more drama than it is worth, basically.

So I'm going to keep writing, and be proud of what I'm writing, but I'm also going to continue keeping it to myself, because, as much as I love them, I love this too. And I wouldn't write like this if knew that when I went into the kitchen, people would be discussing and dissecting it. I wouldn't write like this if I had to keep thinking about whose reaction I just didn't' want to deal with. And if/when anybody else finds me, I will deal with that, and hopefully convince them it's in all our best interests to keep our mouths shut.


Kelly Normal said...

Stopped by to say thanks for your kind words today. Sounds like we're two peas in a pod... anonymous bloggers with chronic illnesses and whackadoo families!

People in my family are interwebs geniuses, so I have to be careful, too. I'd sort of like them to find my blog so that they can get all indignant and refuse to talk to me again... it would be a relief.

Aviva said...

I blog under my own name, mostly because when I started my blog, the goal was simply to keep friends and family in the loop since I'm 2000 miles away from where I grew up and the rest of my immediate family lives.

Over the years, I've sort of regretted that choice because, honestly, sometimes it would be nice to not have to watch what I say so I don't offend someone related to me. There's a reason I moved 2000 miles away from my parents and siblings, and it's not just that I didn't like the Chicago weather! :-) I'd love to be able to write about sex (and how being chronically ill has affected it) or about the myriad ways my mother drives me crazy because my illness is somehow all about her.

Sometimes I contemplate creating a new, more anonymous blog, just to have an outlet for those posts. But realistically I can't imagine keeping up with a third blog when I barely keep up with the two I'm allegedly maintaining now. (I do have a separate blog about my kid that really wouldn't be any interest to anyone whose not a blood relative. :-)