For secrets are edged tools
And must be kept from children and from fools
— John Dryden
I am — yet what I am, none cares or knows
— John Clare
The gauntlet has been thrown down!
Some bloggers who post under their real names say that those who write under pseudonyms have something to hide or don’t want to be held accountable to their audiences.
Heather B. Armstrong, who was fired from her job after her employer discovered her blog, Dooce, where she posted under her real name, said there are few valid reasons a blogger should veil his or her identity.
“I think if you’re doing something anonymously you’ve got some issues going on,” she said. “There’s a reason that you’re hiding.”
“If you’re not doing anything wrong, what are you so afraid of?” It really is a stupid argument no matter what the context, no? I would say that if you’re more obsessed with a writer’s name, address, or place of employment than whatever’s being written, you’re the one with the issues. How interesting that she doesn’t seem to feel that anyone, including herself, apparently, should be able to write anything unless they’re willing to lose their job over it. Hey, I wish we did live in a society where controversial opinions were accepted as a banal fact of life, and not something one should act ashamed of, only to be discussed with close friends behind closed doors lest they cause a fatal attack of the vapors in people unwittingly exposed to them, but given recent events, I’m not holding my breath.
I happen to be self-employed and a member of no particular standing in the community, so it’s no skin off my back if anyone knows who I am or not. No money or reputation on the line. Yet, I write pseudonymously for several reasons, not least of which being that it just doesn’t matter who I am or what I look like. Go gawk at celebrities if that’s your thing; but if you’re reading what I write, I would hope it’s because it somehow resonates with you or makes the time pass a little easier, not because you’re desperate to know where my house is or what I had for breakfast.
Largely, I wanted to have a space where I could focus on writing just for the fun of it, and possibly to even improve at it. A space where the words and ideas are everything, and the person behind them next to nothing. I’ve got the whole rest of the day to deal with my personal life; this is a place to escape all that for a while.
And also, to some extent, pseudonymity is my little protest against a fishbowl world where everything about everybody is a topic for discussion or a plot for a reality TV show. I’ve come to appreciate the value of sometimes seeing people as characters in an artistic sense, not specimens in a laboratory to be closely studied, poked and prodded under harsh lights. An element of mystery or surprise is important, too; knowing where not to look, what to leave unsaid. So, yes, this blog is somewhat of a project of that sort, a way to develop what’s interesting about me and leave the rest in the shadows.