Anonymity

When I contemplated beginning a blog again one of the issues foremost in my mind was the issue of anonymity. I notice, with unease, the amount of personal information some of my peers, but mostly people a bit younger than me, put on the internet. My facebook profile does not include an address, birth date, relationship status, or interests (this slate article talks about how in 87% of cases a person can be individually identified with just their zip code (retrieved through an IP address), birth date and gender. Yikes.), I often do not use an actual picture of myself for my profile picture (currently, it’s this) and I am pretty diligent about removing tags of pictures that I wouldn’t want an employer to see (even though my profile is private). I am baffled by the amount of people who ‘check-in’ to different programs that track their location or leave their profile open to the public. Despite being a Millennial, there are aspects of the information overload that make me deeply uncomfortable.

This is why, for now, I am not putting my name on this blog. Sure, most of you (probably all) who are reading this are doing so because I’ve linked to it from my facebook profile. You obviously know who I am. But, as someone who is going through the process of looking for jobs, I would really rather not have my personal writings so readily available to someone who is supposed to be evaluating me professionally.

There is also an aspect of writing for the public that I do find problematic. While in college, a friend from high school once recalled something that I had said to her, which reflected pretty poorly on me. And do you know what? I didn’t even remember it! And this was a close friend, not someone that I would intentionally have tried to put down or hurt. But luckily (for me, anyway) this was verbal and the only place it still exists is in our memories (well, hers – I only have the memory of her recalling the event). I was a pretty smug, pretentious person as a teenager and I really am so very pleased that the bulk of this immaturity is not written down for posterity (I do have a bit of writers remorse when I look back at some of the pieces I wrote for my high school newspaper, but luckily those are mostly in landfills now). Similarly, I kept journals throughout college. I love reading these! They give me an insight into the person I was and consequently the person that I have grown to be. But I’m also so pleased that these are for my eyes only, and whoever I chose to individually share them with (probably no one! Ever!). To put something online is for it to be there forever. There are some things that, while I’m happy to share now, I may not want available for all to see 15 years from now.

So, why start a blog in the first place? Well, I guess it’s because while I didn’t think it was possible to ever procrastinate more than I did as a student, apparently it is. I really identify with the young blogger in this New York Magazine article who says, ‘ “I always find myself more motivated to write things,” Xiyin, now 19, explains, “when I know that somebody, somewhere, might be reading it.” ‘ As much as it pains me to admit, knowing that someone might read this crap actually motivates me to get writing. Which is nuts because I really enjoy writing! But, after a day staring at a computer screen at the office, it’s not exactly my first choice of activities once home in the evening. I love to write, but often I’d just rather be reading a book outside on a nice day, which I don’t think is unreasonable.

So, in an effort to force my hand and getting pen to paper (er, fingers to keyboard?) I’m going to give up a bit of my anonymity. But just a bit.

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