Posted by: alphafemme | October 27, 2009

anonymity and protecting identity

I got an email from a reader today that kind of surprised me. Maybe I just need to accept that, if I’m using the internet as a place to publicly air all of my most personal thoughts, people are going to disagree, criticize, or hate, or whatever, and I should just grow a thick skin. So chances are, I should’ve just ignored this email.

But I can’t quite let it out of my mind, because it wasn’t an email like “OMGZ UR SO STOOPID!!1!!@$!” It was a coherent, thoughtful email, and so I feel I should respond to it. I’m going to respond to it publicly, in case anyone else has been thinking the same thing.

You say, “if you don’t let your girlfriend read this blog, how can you live with yourself posting such personal stuff about her?” You say, “you’re airing her personal shit as well as your own, you should have her permission.” You say, “I would feel really betrayed if my girlfriend wrote stuff like that about me.” Etc.

So let me clarify a few things. I don’t blame you for saying the things you say or for judging, because I haven’t really explained this before and so you’re just running with assumptions that are as fair as any others. But it’s not really what you think.

First, this is my blog. I’m speaking for myself and only for myself. I actually consciously make an effort not to speak for her or say things that might be putting words or thoughts on her mouth. Sometimes, that’s hard to do, but in any and all cases, I’m writing from my own experience and my own feelings and thoughts. I’m pretty candid, but I am candid about myself.

Second, although she doesn’t read this blog, she knows I write it and she knows that she is a subject of it. And she is fine with that. She’s definitely curious, and I’ve told her that maybe at some point I’ll let her read it, but right now, I still need it to be mine. And I repeat, she’s fine with that. She knows I write about sex, she knows I write about my insecurities, and more often than not, posting here helps me clarify my thoughts and then I go and talk to her about it anyway. And she’s fine with that.

Third, this blog is anonymous for precisely that reason. My real name is not in any way connected to this blog, and I take steps to make sure there aren’t any dead giveaways. (The San Francisco queer community is, gulp, pretty small…) In that way, her identity is also protected.

Fourth, I want to acknowledge that internet publicity and anonymity is a tricky subject. There are gray areas, for sure. If at any point, this blog grows to a readership that feels more public (right now my readership is a tiny drop in the bucket of blog readers), I will probably start password-protecting some of my more personal pages. Right now, though, I don’t want to do that. Mostly because reading other blogs, and often especially the most personal stuff, has helped me understand myself so much better. So I’m reluctant to make this blog private when I think there might be other quiet readers out there who might be too shy to ask for a password but who might relate to what I write and gain some sort of comfort from it. That sounds self-congratulatory, but really, when I started the blog, I could have started a journal–and I didn’t, I chose the blog format precisely because it’s interactive. So I’d like to keep it that way. And I think that as long as the people I write about know that I’m writing about them and are fine with it and are fine with the fact that I’m not showing them exactly what I’m writing, then I’m doing right by them.

And lastly, I just want to say that writing on this blog has been wonderful for me. It’s given me a space to go when I have thoughts swimming around in my mind that need to be articulated. It’s helping me create a space that’s all my own. It’s even in its own way helping me find community. So, thank you for reading. It means the world to me.

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Responses

  1. hello. i don’t think i’ve commented before but would like to say that i’ve enjoyed reading your blog and hope that any negativity that you’ve received from readers won’t deter you from continuing. (this is your blog after all.) your posts have been insightful, funny, inspiring, thought-provoking. i’m very grateful to you for sharing your experiences and thoughts, as it gives me a different perspective on things and life in general; so, thank you for sharing. and i have to say for someone so young, you are remarkable in addressing your life’s challenges in the way that you do. :)

    • thank you so much :) I really appreciate hearing that.

  2. That’s what they took out of reading your posts?? THAT? It amazes me how some people can see something negative where there is nothing but beauty. But that’s how some people are I suppose. I am not one of them because I can’t see past all the good you’re doing for others. I can’t see past all the progress you’re doing for yourself. I can’t see past the climb you’re taking towards becoming the person you want to be. There is absolutely nothing negative here and that someone should feel the need to go out of their way to point a nothing out to you, does not deserve your time. You are a good person for treating them with kindness but it is not earned. To the emailer: Take your negativity and put it where it belongs, toward your own insecurities and fears and then find a way to heal. You’re ridiculous and toxic.

    • aww, thanks so much greg. as always, you’re so sweet!

  3. This is what people spend their time on? Really? You shouldn’t have to explain yourself to anyone. It’s your blog. Ditto on greg’s comments.

    Also, my gf knew I had this blog and knew I wrote about her and myself and sex and whatever I wanted but she didn’t have access to it. I asked her permission to post pictures, etc. I just gave her my blog address in September, after 4 months of dating. I told her I’d give it to her when I was ready, and so I did.

    • Thanks for the comment Jen :) It’s good to know others do the same thing. I’m not sure yet when/if I’ll give her the link here, but I think it’ll happen eventually. I’m not that good yet at being vulnerable. I’m working on it…

  4. You have a right to your blog. Go you! for defending it. And, hey, I’ve had exes read my blog. . .and it NEVER has led to anywhere good. It just gets overanalyzed etc. My blog is my place; and your blog is yours. . .And, for the record, it is awesome.

    • Ohmygosh, that’s true! Exes! I’m never going to give her the link until we’re stuck with each other forever… haha :)

  5. “…there might be other quiet readers out there who might be too shy to ask for a password but who might relate to what I write and gain some sort of comfort from it.”

    totally one of your quiet readers, alphafemme! your blog has helped me so, so much since coming out to myself six months ago. I particularly appreciate the way you write so fearlessly and honestly about sex. i love this blog!

    • thank you, I really appreciate hearing that. glad you piped up and let me know you’re here :)


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