Monday, May 10, 2010

secrecy

Years ago, when I first started blogging, I obviously didn't understand the power of the Internet. I didn't (and I know I'm not the only one) realize that simple comments I made, or (what I thought were) generic references regarding my town would allow readers to pinpoint my location or learn who I was. I thought I was being super secretive, but I realize now there is really no such thing. Once you put yourself out there, inevitably you'll say something allowing people to know where you live or what your name is, no matter how careful you think you're being.

I remember reading one of my favorite blogs and having her reference a dinosaur exhibit in her town, and out of curiosity, I googled the dinosaur reference and BOOM, all of a sudden I knew exactly which very small town she lived in. Another blogger told me a story about a reader emailing her with very personal details about her address and her children, simply from a few comments she'd made about her library, a farm they frequented, and a general description of her town. I don't blog under my real name for precisely this reason, I guess. I don't have a totally crazy name, but it is unique enough to pinpoint me on the map.

Anyway, Josh implores me to do my best to keep our location private, so I do, but this certainly puts a cramp in my blogging style. On a daily basis I think of things to tell you about our town's ridiculous garbage situation, or the dramatic police event that took place in our front yard yesterday, or the ridiculous nature of some of my neighbors, but I don't. Maybe it is a wasted exercise and totally unnecessary, because obviously tons of people blog under their real name, but I am paranoid, so I don't.

What about the rest of you? Do you worry about this? I know some of you blog under your real name, but what made you decide to be straight with the Internet? If you're not, are you super careful with your details?

7 comments:

Coasting Anon said...

I guess I am just inherently way too trusting. Which is definitely dumb considering I lost my job from blogging and I was beyond anonymous at the time. My new blog was supposed to be anonymous as well...but it is an impossibility in this day and age.

However, while I do still try and keep some semblance of anonimity on my blog...not mentioning when I'll be away, not blatantly giving out my address or allowing my family's names to be searchable, etc.; I have found that taking away the need to be anonymous has helped me to be a more responsible blogger. Since I know everyone could find me and read what I have to say, I only say what I would say in person. Sadly, that has definitely cramped my writing style and it certainly has kept me from being able to truly express myself and give my readers an accurate idea of who I really am. But the pay off is not having to worry about making people angry.

Being more aware of the impossibility of anonymity has also allowed me to treat the people on the internet the same way as I would treat people on the street. The vast majority of people who find and read my blog are not out to get me; but in the back of my mind, I do keep myself moderatly alert for the crazies.

liz said...

I'm not anonymous at all anymore, but it was a decision made jointly with my spouse.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how many mothers have blogs and the very personal details they post. I find it amazing that so many people put photos of their kids out there. I also notice a lot of women writing about their husbands being out of town a lot. I think this is crazy, irresponsible and completely ignorant. I have a family member who works in law enforcement and will say again and again how totally dangerous it is to put such information out there on a blog. I am a mother and I would never write a blog that contained any info about my family and I would absolutely never put photos of my kids out in public for complete strangers to view.

liz said...

Anonymous, when I was ten - long before there were internets - I was the victim of a push-in robbery at gun-point.

A gun.

Pointed at me.

At age 10.

The robber had been watching the house for a while. It was the nicest house in a run-down not-yet-gentrified neighborhood and we were targeted.

That kind of stuff happens in the world.

It doesn't stop because you keep silent on the internet.

It doesn't stop because you never post pictures of your kids.

It doesn't stop because you never tell anyone when your spouse is out of town.

I take other precautions. Real world precautions. Precautions I'd be taking if I'd never heard of the internet. So judge me if you wish, but I'm guessing that I have a better sense of the real risks I'm running than you do.

Rev Dr Mom said...

I tend not to be very suspicious or paranoid, but I did/do try to keep my blogging identity pseudononymous because of my work. And last year when things were really difficult at work I went "underground" for a little while.

I know, however, that if anyone REALLY wanted to figure out who I am that I've put enough details out there that it could be figured out. Pictures I posted of my previous locale would be revealing to anyone who knew the area. And I know that I've figured out identities and/or locations of a few bloggers.

I have posted pictures of my kids and grandkids (with their permission) and not worried too much about it. I have never given their whole names,though, although I don't see what harm could come from using first names.

BabyMac said...

I am with Liz on this one - if people are going to target you, they can do so with or without your blog. I do put pictures of my kids on there, it's a decision I made with my husband, and we are OK with it. Who knows how much longer I will do it for? But right now I have the BEST memories of them and stories that go with the photos, that I can keep forever.

Knit and Purl Mama said...

I've definitely become a lot less specific and a lot more generalized. I don't have my last name on my blog - but it's on my email address. I guess as a knit wear designer, and all that jazz, I can't 100% be anonymous with my name.

I started to only talk about things AFTER they happen now. Not before. This way no one know s when I'll be away from my house, etc.

I do blog photos of my kids, but I resize them so that if they're swiped they cannot be printed in a photolab.

Exactly what some of your readers have commented - if someone is going to target you, they'll still do so without your blog.