From a Long-Ago Archived Blog, Musings from Myopia, My Original Blog: Posted on August 10, 2008.
I’ve grown so accustomed to using this blog to release pent-up (and not-so-pent-up) emotions. It’s hard not to let it be an easy outlet for my anger, fear, joy, loneliness, happiness, sullenness, emptiness, or angst. But there are some things one just shouldn’t share with a blog or, rather, with the rest of the world. Some pieces of our personal lives should remain private, hidden, and shielded from public view. But that’s increasingly hard to execute.
This is not news to most readers, I know. It’s probably not news to me. But today I am thinking about the value of anonymity or, at least, the desirability of anonymity. Try as we might, we cannot maintain anonymity the way we once could. Online searches of Google or Intellius or dozens of other sites can give us details about people that we probably shouldn’t know and certainly shouldn’t want to know.
The identity of people posting messages on blogs or in chat rooms or simply responding to email messages is not private. With certain modest skills and basic tools at hand, one’s most private electronic communications to one’s innermost circle can be fodder for YouTube or FaceBook or god knows what else.
By the time it occurs to you that your identity, your entire life, is available for public view, it’s probably too late. Your secrets are out.
A would-be employer is reading your personal medical history with interest and horror and is busy deleting the job offer she had just written. Details of your visit to an abortion clinic as a teenager are being reviewed by investigative reporters, their neighbors, and your minister’s mistress. Your long-ago-expunged arrest record for DUI in the idiocy of your youth finds its way onto your employer’s desk at M.A.D.D. headquarters. Your sordid affair with a married biological weapons specialist in Second Life is thrown in your face by your spouse and your fellow members of the board of Amnesty International.
The hardest part of facing the fact that there is no anonymity anymore is that people you trust may be feeding details of your life to recipients who are hungry for the slightest shred of damning dirt. Either that, or you’re growing paranoid. But you better not let that cat out of the bag; it could be just the tidbit they’ve been looking for.
Occasionally I dredge up the remnants of my original blog, which I called Musings from Myopia. Some of its contents strike me as funny. Other posts trigger memories of a time I cannot bring back; those can, and often do, bring me to tears. I am sometimes surprised by how often I mentioned my wife. That lifetime ago was so comfortable and, in many ways, perfect; I did not realize just how perfect it was until much, much later. Too late. That old blog, Musings from Myopia, had a consistent readership of one: my late sister. The lack of readers did not bother me in the slightest. I wrote it for myself, just as I write this one for me. Despite my frequent use of the old blog as a way to vent anger and frustrations, I recorded quite a lot of day-to-day minutia about my life. These days, I get both enjoyment and torment from reading those old posts. I sometimes think about gathering all of my blog posts…from all of my blogs…and then selecting many of them to edit for inclusion in a compilation. Some people might enjoy reading them. Most probably would not enjoy them in the least. Just another fantasy. Wading through several thousand pages of stream-of-consciousness-writing would be quite an undertaking. I am not sure how I would decide which of my posts to include and how much of each one I might extract for inclusion. It would be work. More work than I might want to perform. And it probably would require far more focused attention than I would be able to devote to the task. Still, I dream about doing it. But I probably won’t. I might find it terribly disheartening to discover, after publishing the monstrous volume(s), that sales of the book languished in the low two figures.
I have no pressing obligations today. I will spend the day at home, perhaps doing some long-delayed housework, maybe forcing myself to do some long-delayed church-work, possibly just reminiscing about long-ago-missed opportunities. I cannot seem to force myself to adjust my frame of mind this morning. Just being alive takes too much energy. But the thought of quitting is overwhelming. So I will plod along.