Blogging Anonymously


Sometimes I wish this blog weren't anonymous. But when I created the blog, my previous online experiences led me to prefer not making my identity known; for one thing, it avoids the whole problem of people I would rather avoid looking me up in a search engine and contacting me over something I wrote. Also, I sometimes find it a little scary how much information about people is generally available just by typing their name into Google.

In theory, being anonymous makes me free to write whatever I please, since I don't necessarily have to worry about what the people I know might think; I can just throw caution to the wind and say what I really feel. But in practice, it isn't quite that simple. For one thing, I write from time to time about real people and real experiences. I do feel some responsibility not to go behind the backs of the people I know and gossip about them in a blog. It gets even more complicated when I write about churches I attend. I sometimes would really like to write more detailed commentaries about my church experiences, but that is hard to do for two reasons. First, it might blow my anonymity. And second, writing about my church experiences would inevitably mean commenting about the people involved in some way, and that brings in the whole gossip issue.

And there is another weird thing that comes into play. Despite the anonymity, I still feel that my own ego and identity are attached to the blog somehow. It is nice to think that a few others out there actually read this blog. Sometimes, after reading my blog for a while, they drift away. Perhaps my blog entries are a bit too long, or perhaps I write things that offend them. Perhaps, by trying so hard to remain anonymous (and by keeping this blog limited strictly to religious concerns), I reveal too little of my true personality and life to give this blog a broad appeal. But I have to admit that I would like to write things that others are interested in reading. But how to reconcile that desire with the desire to throw caution to the wind and freely write whatever I feel is an interesting question. This is a blog, after all, and not a private journal.

Anonymity is both a blessing and curse, in other words. I do wish I had come up with a better name than "Mystical Seeker", but I'm stuck with it now. Meanwhile, life goes on.


Bobby said...

Hi there, this is my first comment on your blog, but like I said on that other blog, you are a gifted writer; you often write with great clarity and somehow maintain a kind of relaxed and an "at ease" tone; not easy to do when you're always writing about religion. I'd be interested in seeing what you come up with unleashed; I wonder what you might come up with if you weren't confined to your particular topic. As it is, Mystical Seeker isn't such a bad name; it is fairly a accurate descriptor of your purpose after all, and it does the job of letting people know you're posting anonymously with nothing else said. Take care,

Matthew said...

Meh, I don't like "Mystical Seeker" either. I think you can create a new account and associate a new name with it, and then use Mystical Seeker to give the new name authorization to post on the blog.

Greg said...

When I began blogging, I remained anonymous due to similar concerns that you have expressed. I have since changed my “cybername” to my real name. In my opinion, a personal picture and a real name add a nice personal touch to a blog that acts as sort of a tangible bridge, linking written material to a real person. However, there are times when I wish I had remained anonymous. Some individuals who know me personally would certainly have difficulties with some of the ideas expressed on my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in authenticity and honestly, but I also believe in being “all things to all people” in order to build relationships and strengthen friendships. And sometimes, one must abstain from expressing certain views around certain people UNTIL the time is right.

As homiletics teaches us, good sermon preparation starts with a serious consideration of the individuals making up the congregation. Online, the congregation – or reading audience – is not just a community of faith. We’re talking world-wide! So, yes, the decision of whether to go anonymous or not can be a difficult one.

I do not always comment you your posts, but that does not mean I’m not reading your blog. You have a wonderful blog that is very thought provoking and, to me, interestingly full of great ideas that give much-needed challenges to traditional Christian faith.

In my own experience, it seems as if some individuals are blog readers in an “on-and-off” sort of fashion. So, we cannot necessarily interpret a decrease in post comments as a sign of decreased readership.

Eileen said...

I'm used to nom d'internet, so I don't mind not knowing "the real" you. (Although, I do sometimes wonder if I'm guessing your gender correctly!)

You write a great blog. I'm a big fan.

Ruth said...

I always think it's fascinating when you get to actually _see_ someone you've spoken to on the phone. They never look like their voice, if you see what I mean!

Commenting on blogs is a funny thing as well - I often just read and say nothing. This is usually because I either:

a) agree with what I've read and have nothing to add,

b) disagree but don't have the energy for a debate,

c) want to go away and reflect upon what I've read,

d) don't have anything intelligent to say (although that doesn't always stop me from commenting regardless!!)

e) don't want the hijack the blog by commenting all the time

Mystical Seeker said...

Thanks Bobby, Matthew, Greg, Eileen, and Ruth for all your comments.

Cynthia said...

I like the whole mysterioso thing. It's part of, but certainly not all, the draw to your blog. And you write very well. I especially appreciate your dark sense of humor (calling God a "big f***ing mystery") in your searches.

Whatever you decide to do, if anything, I'll still be here reading what you have to say.