To blog anonymously or not…

When I first started this blog, I was certain that I was going to keep it anonymous. By “anonymous” I mean, for example,  I don’t use my full name, I avoid posting anything that would indicate the town I live in and I do not post photos of myself or my loved ones. Recently, I’ve been wondering whether I might change my approach slightly, for instance, disclosing a little more about me, or sharing photos sometimes, or no longer refraining from talking about local groups, services, activities etc that might give away where I live.

It’s a hard decision. I was talking about it with my friend S who suggested “Why don’t you ask other bloggers what they think?” I thought that was a great idea.

So, I’d like to ask you a question: what do you think about blogging anonymously versus revealing personal details? Was this a difficult issue for you? What led you to choose how much you reveal and whether you write anonymously? If you started your blog anonymously but later decided to share more about yourself, or vice versa, what led you to that decision? If you’d like to make any comments I’d be very grateful. Thank you.

I’ll share a few of my own thoughts on the decision I’m trying to make.

Ironically, it’s partly because some of what I post here about my emotions, experiences and relationships is so very personal that I refrain from sharing personally identifiable information. Many of the experiences I talk about are very painful and intimate, especially those from my childhood. If someone I know as an acquaintance or colleague (rather than a very close friend) came across my blog and learned what had happened to me then I might feel really uncomfortable to say the least. At the start of my blogging, anonymity let me write more freely. Also, I didn’t know what kind of reaction I might meet with. Allowing myself to be identified could have made me vulnerable if I encountered unpleasant or harassing “followers”. In fact this hasn’t happened at all; since I started my blog I’ve been very blessed to have caring and supportive visitors to my pages who have become friends and that’s a huge gift.  THANK YOU! It’s now partly because you have become friends that I’d feel comfortable sharing, and indeed would like to share, a little bit more.

However I also know that if I were to be identified my blog might affect not only me but my friends, family and the professionals who care for me.

I’ve written about relationships breaking down and hurt I feel. I’ve shared sensitive experiences that involved others, such as my childhood abuse and relationships in my family when I was growing up. When I mention someone else I never give their name, only an initial sometimes, but if I were to be identified through my blog by someone who knows me (say, through work or a friend of a friend) then other people I’ve mentioned in my posts potentially are more likely to be identifiable too. It’s a small world, as the saying goes, and I don’t have that many friends! 😉 My friends and family may not want to be identified, or they may be upset. The anonymity of the internet does not give me the right to be horrible about people and I try hard not to write personal things about other people or things I wouldn’t say to the person directly. However I’m inevitably only writing my own experience and perception. In another person’s view it may not be balanced. On the flip side of this, I try to write positive things and express gratitude about the good friends I do have in my life and it would be nice to share more of that.

As well as considering my friends, I have to consider the hospital and my doctors and the therapy programme I attend. There aren’t many specific personality disorder services in the UK and if I say where I live, which hospital I attend will likely become clear to anyone else vaguely local with knowledge of PD. I might worry about anyone making a judgment about the hospital or therapy on the basis of what I write. It’s just me, after all.

Equally there is a lot about the support I get that is great and I would like to share this to help others. Having experienced at least 15 years of mental health issues, slowly I’ve come across sources of support and services that can really really help, some in times of crisis and some day to day. A lot of them are not easy to find. I’d love to write about them and how they’ve helped me, in case this in turn helps others and because I think they deserve recognition. So far I’ve held back so as to avoid revealing my location. Perhaps that is over-cautious of me.

You get the picture that I’m in two minds about this at the moment!

Ginny xxx

4 thoughts on “To blog anonymously or not…

  1. I very much understand your point of view. Keeping information confidential is a hard call in the professional context and maybe even more so for you perhaps where your work may be more related to mental health? I am glad that your blog is a safe space for you.
    I have also thought about the Facebook issue and wondered whether to make a Facebook page for my blog. If i did that I think for privacy reasons I’d see if I could create a separate FB account for the purpose linked to an email address used only for that account, and again avoid using my full name. At the moment I haven’t looked into it as I’m not sure it would add very much to what I can do on the blog itself. If i did decide to go more the way of putting information about local resources and help maybe I’d think about Facebook as that might help people who might not want to read the whole blog.
    Thank you for taking time to stop by
    Xxx

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  2. For me it comes down to my writing style. I’ve been tempted to share my posts here with certain friends, or family. But there is a concept in science called the Observer Effect – essentially, it is a phenomenon where being observed changes something. Checking the air pressure in your tire releases air, etc. The changes might be minute, but it might be good to ask yourself a few questions:

    1. Who is my audience, and is it easier to reach them as ‘me’ or anonymously?
    2. If I’m not anonymous any more, will it change the tone, authenticity or nature of my posts?
    3. Do those above changes ultimately benefit what I am trying to accomplish?
    4. Once you make the change, you can’t go back. Not unless you keep this blog anonymous and start writing a new blog under your actual persona. Are you comfortable with that?

    For me, I write anonymously because I appreciate the feedback, encouragement and voices of my fellow bloggers. But when I write, it is for me. Maybe also a way to connect with others who may have shared similar experiences. I share details that would be sensitive and a struggle for those active in my daily life, or who know me. I also have shared information about an abusive ex, and that information would trigger him and make my situation less safe. Right now, my main purpose, too, is processing and healing. Maybe my perspective will change as I have garnered more distance from some of the events in my life, but that is why I do what I do the way I do. 😉

    Good luck in your decision! I’m sure you’ll make the best way for you!

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  3. Thank you so much for such a caring, interesting and full reply. I am very grateful and I am sorry that I am only responding now. In the past week I have had problems with posts I try to make, disappearing. Also until today I didn’t have broadband at home. I will reply to you properly in the next couple of days xx

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