Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Are there really any secrets?

This morning I was reading Forester's blog, where he was commenting on the dilemma of telling his wife about his attractions, and part of his reticence is frankly what to do about his blog. This led me to begin commenting about anonymity, and it got too long, so I'm posting my ideas here:

A few words about non-anonymous blogging, since this has been my lot, by default, because I told my wife and later my adult children what I was doing on the computer! Yes, at times I hold back on what I might say, because they often read my blog and sometimes others' as well. If no one dear to me could be offended, misinterpret or be injured by brutal honesty or emotional ranting, then perhaps I would have more controversial things to say out on the edge.

But what of accountability? Can we really get away with saying anything, just because we feel like it, and then walk away with no consequence to our thinking or words? Even though we may not know real names or where each other lives, we do exert influence upon each other. I hope my words, whether they are anonymous to some or not, will be on the positive side of the ledger. We may not always be able to hide behind a veil of anonymity. We know that there will come a time "when the books are opened." Sooner or later our words and actions are usually known; privacy is a fleeting thing even in this world, if not in the next.

So as I consider my words and who may be reading them, it helps me to 'school my thoughts.' Do I really want to say that? What will [insert name] think about that word or that comment? Will this bring up interesting conversation around my Sunday dinner table? Or, on the other hand, if I have nothing to hide, why shouldn't I say this? What's the Geckoman afraid of?

Hopefully our personal scrutiny, anonymous or not, works both ways to keep us accountable AND truthful.


J G-W said...

The context for the anonymity is everything. No one blamed Anne Frank for hiding in the attic. On the other hand, Al Capone had less honorable motives for keeping his secrets.

Mohos who blog in anonymity are much closer to Anne Frank's motives than Al Capone's. Who can blame them?

At the same time, it would make me really nervous to blog anonymously. The more specific and personal your blogs are -- and many do get quite specific and personal! -- the greater the risk that someone will happen along and put 1 + 1 + 1 together. And that's always a rotten way to be "found out." Especially by someone like a spouse. Yikes!

I don't see any indication that anyone is using their blog in an exploitative way... My impression is people are being as honest as they can, and using their blogs as a vehicle to move toward greater integrity. When fellow bloggers sense baloney, folks tend to get called on it. There is a kind of system of accountability, even in anonymity.

Until homophobia is cured, the anonymity plays a very important, helpful purpose, I think. Just my two cents worth...

GeckoMan said...


Thanks for your comments on my blog, I always appreciate your perspective.

I don't have any problem with anonymity, I think it is one of the unique aspects of blogging, letting it all hang out, as it were amongst a community of friends and peers. This is something that is really difficult to do in the 'real' world, and to be able to speak honestly without fear of reprisal is one of the great benefits of blogging.

My point was because of my readership includes family members looking in, (and I might add, not because they're checking up on me, but because they're genuinely interested) I consider what and how I write with them in the back of my mind. You are even more out in the open than I am, with full disclosure, and so I think this sense of upfront accountability is different for us than many other bloggers. Or is it? I mentioned we all have concern and influence with each other.

I hope I did not imply that I think others are eploiting their anonymity. I was just thinking out loud and asking questions about how we are still accountable in our blogs, acknowledging that in the end everything will be open for view anyways.

I wish others would comment about their experience with this or how they feel about it.

Kengo Biddles said...

I think there's a fine line between anonymity and cowardice. I think that we each have to find our fine-line, and be as open as we need to receive the feedback from others we seek, but not too much so as to offend, hurt, lead-away, or otherwise damage someone else.

GeckoMan said...

Thanks for your comment, Kengo. Living with gayness in the the LDS world is a fine line for most of us, and inherently carries some need for acting a double life. By that I mean 'out' to a few, and trying to live 'straight' to most. In the blogging world we are more free to say what we're really thinking, and I feel this is a good thing. But it can also engender a duplicity in our lives if we're not careful, and that can evolve into emotional and spiritual stress. Hence, I'm a proponent of openess in our lives to the greatest extent possible.

I've spoken about accountability because when we think we're anonymous, we sometimes will say things that go beyond propriety and then that sets us up for possibly injuring others or changing our own mental attitude towards living faithfully. My fear for myself is talking myself into a position that increases my frustration and double-mindedness. This is what I'm trying to avoid, while also being accountable to my family. Others in the blogging world do not have the 'threat' of close family opinion moderating their expression, and I wonder if they would speak differently if they did.

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Anonymous said...

although my blogging is essentially anonymous, i never write anything that i would not want family and friends to read, out of sense of respect and awareness that someday, somewhere, someone is going to "put 1 = 1+ 1 together." my replies tend to stray sometimes, but i try to keep my posts in line.

Anonymous said...

although my blogging is essentially anonymous, i never write anything that i would not want family and friends to read, out of sense of respect and awareness that someday, somewhere, someone is going to "put 1 = 1+ 1 together." my replies tend to stray sometimes, but i try to keep my posts in line.

Beck said...

Of course my blogging is more "on the edge" than I am in person - and I feel that is so for a reason. I have no other source for expressing thoughts that sometimes are ugly or edgy or inappropriate, but still very valid in figuring out who I am.

Should I do so? I think so. I blog, after all, for myself. I think I am guilty at times of being too personal and anyone who really connects the dots can come to "know" the real me. But, after all, I'm blogging for the purpose of connecting those dots for myself.

If my wife or parents or family members or ward neighbors etc. were reading my blog and I knew it, obviously my tone would change and I would be more self-conscious of what I say. Unlike Santorio, I am wanting to be uninhibited (and yet not to the point of disrespect) so that I can figure things out.

I couldn't do this if I weren't hiding like Anne Frank!

GeckoMan said...

I have to admit that at times I am envious for more anonymity than I have. At times I wish people who knew me weren't reading, so I could be a little more edgy, like you.

But I can't have it both ways. I didn't really plan for my blog to be open-book, it just happened because I have a hard time keeping a secret. And I have to acknowledge that there have been benefits to sharing that for my case seem to outweigh my lack of anonymity.