Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Anonymity in a crowd of voices

A recent college grad I've known for the last year was picking my brain on blogging. She expressed interest in having a blog but worried about who would see what she wrote. See, she wanted to write about the experience of planning a wedding: the good, the bad, and the often ugly (yes horrendous bridesmaid dresses that rain down horror and ill-fittingness I'm pointing my finger at you). She was trying to balance the catharsis of talking about the craziness of wedding planning with not hurting anyone's feelings. I suggested having a blog without her name attached and telling no one about it. And then she said the all too true statement of "But then no one will read it."

Even in this world where people can expose their thoughts with almost total anonymity we still want to be heard. Even if what we have to say might hurt someone's feelings or generally piss off a whole other group of people we still want our thoughts to be heard and received. We want the truth of what we think or feel or are dealing with to be known by others.

And there is the trade-off. If you really want what you have to say to be heard you have to give up some of your anonymity. You have to deal with the fall-out of letting others into your thoughts and opinions. Sometimes the price is worth it because you were able to speak what was once unspoken and share what was true to you; but other times the cost is high, too high, and we mute our voices and hold back out thoughts.

How does this play out in real life, outside the blog? What is the cost to returns equation that keeps us silent or pushes us to open our mouths? And is that how we should decide to speak up? Should speaking up or sharing an opinion be based on the reaction we anticipate it receiving or should it be based on something more: truth, honesty, openness, and vulnerability?

Is anonymity good or is it something we hide behind so we don't have to expose our true selves or maybe just even truth?


Blogger Greg said...

Hm. Good question. I guess it depends on the Motive. Phillipians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I think anonymity is good if it keeps you from hurting those you do not want to hurt. That said, I changed my blog to our real names, because I do want to be heard in my own voice. The scary part about losing your anonymity is that you care what others think... and as a result, it is hard to let others in... at least that is my perspective. I have met strangers who have become close friends. Funny how I care about what they think now... where before I didn't care... now I do. The price you pay when you lose the mask. That said, I hope they like me anyway... even if they see the real me. Rambling.... Miss me? ;)

3/31/2009 11:33 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Welcome back by the way... How was Belize?

4/01/2009 12:03 AM  
Anonymous chirky said...

I think anonymity can be a good thing depending on the topic.

But for your friend, I would say: NOT TRUE. Just because it's an anonymously written blog doesn't mean she wouldn't have readers. You build readers along the way. She could make up an identity, like Greg/Ben did. Or she could use her real first name (if it's common enough) with an illustrated avatar instead of a picture.

You should let her know that anonymity shouldn't stop her from blogging, if that's what she's interested in doing.

4/01/2009 11:05 AM  
Blogger David Malouf -- said...

Perhaps if your friend addressed all issues in real-life with the real people, then she can write about the horror situations as well as their resolution and without needing to be anonymous (albeit a little bit 'corrected' so as to not excessively harm others).

I'm all for exposure over anonymity. Personally, I think this issue arises from the very anonymity that is being worried about.


4/01/2009 11:32 AM  
Blogger sara said...

I can't do anonymity--I wouldn't want to. Typically, I think it's a cop-out. Anonymity usually stems from a fear that the content is too harsh or too blunt. Something to think about, for sure. There is that appeal in anonymity: you can use your witty, snarky thoughts without reservation. But, you can also do that anyway and just own up to your personality, honest commentary and all. As far as writing/blogging goes, the revision process is extremely helpful in realizing how you really feel about situations/issues. I do think that it's possible to blog about this recent grad's bridal issues (I feel like I'm in on a bit of a secret here, haha) without coming across as malicious; you can be comical without condemning. I think it's hard though--I will definitely agree to that!

4/02/2009 12:07 AM  

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