Question & Answer With Dixie Yid - The Irony Of Anonymity
A Simple Jew asks:
One of the advantages of being an anonymous blogger is the freedom to write one's inner thoughts and thereby give the reader a glimpse into the private thoughts within one's mind. Routinely, we share thoughts we would never share with someone who knew our identity.
Yet, as time elapses and we gain regular readers, we instinctively become more guarded with what we write. It is almost as if we are afraid that our words will reveal a divergence between our written words and our online personas.
As another anonymous blogger, do you have any thoughts on this phenomenon?
Dixie Yid answers:
I'm a new blogger (almost exactly 6 months). I was asking questions about this early on in my blogging career as well. I have noticed what you talked about as well. After writing for a couple of months and corresponding with you and others, I have also developed a certain online personality, an alter ego, if you will. Like you said, I am restrained by having to write in a way that lives up to that online expectation. One way I compensate for this is by being conscious of it, and trying not to say things just because I think that is what sounds good, but rather saying what I actually believe and think. I have turned down questions that ASJ has sent me to write about in the past because I could not write about them honestly and without pretension.
I have noticed another type of irony. On one hand, I write anonymously so that I can write things that are more personal, that I perhaps wouldn't share if everyone knew who I was, just as you said. However, as Rabbi Without a Cause wrote in a post on this topic, things do not necessarily work out that way. I feel restrained in my writing for two main reasons. One is similar to a reason given in the article I just linked. I may not always be an anonymous blogger and therefore I have to be careful only to write things I do not mind being known about me. For me, this obviates much of the benefit of anonymous blogging. I suppose only one who is sure they will always remain anonymous can really benefit from that anonymity in the form of the ability to write more freely.
The second restraint I feel is that of actually maintaining the anonymity. Very often there are things about my family, my shul, my rabbi, my friends, etc. that I want to write about or share but cannot, because it would make it too easy to figure out who I am. The anonymity that is supposedly designed to free me to be a more honest writer, its self, restrains me from speaking about things that I would like to speak about. Non-anonymous bloggers like Mr. Uberdox and MoChassid have many liberties that us anonymous folks do not, because they do not have to hide their identities.
I recently posted a funny story that happened to the real-life-me because of my anonymous blogging, I posted here. Right now, I am maintaining my anonymity because several people, not least of which is my rebbe, have advised me that at this point, it is wise to do so. Therefore, that is what I am doing. Perhaps some of A Simple Jew's readers can comment about their feelings about all of the blogging anonymity.