The Joy of Anonymity…

Seeing this post on the theme of anonymous blogging at NepaliVoices, made me think about my progression from blogging completely anonymously when I started years ago, to blogging using my real name and even providing details on my background and current associations now. My blogging, probably not unlike many other bloggers, started as a curiosity. I heard about blogger early on in 2002, when I was about to complete my undergraduate. Till then I still didn’t have my own homepage – not even in geocities, which was probably the most popular service at that time for creating/maintaining free homepages on the net. When I heard about blogger and what I can do with it, I jumped into the bandwagon and created an account for myself. That was just after I completed my undergraduate. But for some reason, I didn’t want anybody to know I had a webpage where I wrote regularly (ish). So, I didn’t create a public profile nor did I use my real name in my webpages/blog. I chose a pen name “kshitiz”, and started blogging.

Being anonymous not only gave me freedom to express whatever I had in mind on any subject matter that I had interest on, but also gave me courage to push the threshold. I would write freely on the blog what I wouldn’t have even dreamed of writing in public with my real name. Anonymity basically made you private even being in the most public of places – the internet. I didn’t care who read my blog or even whether anybody left any comment or not. All I wanted to do then was express myself and get stuffs out rather than suppressing them within. I blogged as “kshitiz” for over a year, when I thought I should be a bit more courageous and added my initials in front of “kshitiz” – I was now blogging as MP “kshitiz”.

Still, only a few people – just some friends – knew I had a blog, and now they knew that I was MP “kshitiz”. That definitely made me a bit more conscious about what I wrote, who I wrote about and on what topic. When I was completely anonymous, I remember posting conversations I had with my friends on the messenger, or in the chat-rooms (they were very popular then!), and even some of the emails – all anonymous of course. I made sure I removed the names πŸ™‚

Now that I was MP “kshitiz”, I couldn’t do that as freely. Who would want a personal email they sent out published on the internet, albeit without any names to identify them as the writer? I think even I wouldn’t be too happy about those. So, obviously I came under certain constraints just by adding my initials in front of my pen name. I would say I was semi-anonymous still. And since only a few close friends knew about my blog, as long as I didn’t piss them off, whatever I wrote was fine by them. But I must admit, I didn’t quite enjoy this limited freedom in writing compared to the freedom I had being completely anonymous.

A big change came about in 2005 when I decided to get my own domain, mainly for the purpose of maintaining a photoblog. I still kept my blogger blog but was updating lot less frequently. And I was happy expressing myself with photographs than writing – a lot was to do with my laziness though, laziness in getting myself to write anything. I wasn’t even keeping a diary, and unfortunately I still don’t. (But hearing last week that even Tony Blair doesn’t keep a regular diary, I felt a bit of relief πŸ™‚ )

Anyway, I decided to revive random jottings… early on in 2006, writing with my real name. Now there was no anonymity left, and I certainly felt a lot less courageous in writing. Not only I had to think of not embarrassing myself, my friends, family, teachers and everybody around me with my writing, but also think of the consequences of what I wrote. It was a different thing altogether. From the very beginning I realised I wasn’t up for it, at least not then. So the lags between the posts were incredible. Sometimes I didn’t write anything for a whole month – well, I did write, but didn’t/couldn’t post because of the contents, because of the embarrassment, because of the lack of courage and all those stuffs.

Fortunately, last year’s April movement gave me something to rant about, like most other Nepali bloggers, I guess. Since I was writing on issues that were of concern to a lot of people, I was a lot more courageous in expressing my opinion and voicing my own concern. Although the writing was and still is a lot more formal than they used to be when I was blogging anonymously, I am slowly beginning to rediscover my passion for writing – writing on issues that I want to write about. Fiction/faction was mostly what I used to write when I was blogging anonymously, which completely vanished from my writing for a while. Writing with real name is certainly difficult thing to do, but I think I’m slowly finding my feet now, and slowing going back to those roots again!

Having said that, I wrote something deeply personal last night and was about to post as well, but just couldn’t get myself do that. I thought about password protecting that entry and post it anyway, but then thought what’s the point of posting something in public if I didn’t want people to see it!?! So, it stays as a draft in my computer. These are the moments when I so much regret not writing anonymously…and so much miss the joy of anonymity.

3 thoughts on “The Joy of Anonymity…

  1. “Anonymity basically made you private even being in the most public of places – the internet. I didn’t care who read my blog or even whether anybody left any comment or not”

    True……… there is a different kinf of fun in anonymity…. πŸ™‚

  2. Need for anonymity is not limited to fear of prosecution or embarrassment / harrasment. As you pointed out, it brings out initimate details without compromising privacy. I don’t blog about politics at all but tend to focus mainly on social and civic issues, trying as much as possible not to replace it with my personal diary. Amazing as it is, my friends are greatly influenced (not necessarily to do something) by my blog without knowing who the blogger is and I am certain it would not have been possible without anonymity.
    On the other hand, there is a drawback. I don’t suppose I will feel comfortable to be addressed by my assumed name “Saral”, esp. when it comes down to personal networking like you could have in UK or here in US among other bloggers or readers.
    -Saral
    Sojho Kura

  3. I guess there are both pros and cons of anonymous blogging. But I like Rajesh’s model (read about it in NepaliVoices I think!) of having two (or more) – some anonymous, some not!

    And Saral, you are right about feeling uncomfortable with assumed name when networking in real life, and I do think its important to keep real and virtual lives separate….

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