Friday, 14 June 2013

Anonymously speaking

You may have noticed that my posts have dwindled from once a week to once if you're lucky.
It's difficult to pin down exactly when a place where I once felt so comfortable being open left me drawing a blank when I looked at the screen, but alas, here we are.

For six years now this blog has charted my life through relationships, break ups, travelling, jobs and friendships. It's been my go-to, my haven, my little place where the weight lifted off my shoulders and transferred into cyberspace.

To do it well, there was never a question: it had to be anonymous. 

For those who have never done it, take my word. Writing anonymously is an exercise in self-restraint. 

The urge to reveal everything about yourself or a situation is a temptation that you learn to ignore. You self-edit, hone the art of giving just enough information so that people can relate to what you're saying, but never so much that they know all the details, or crucially, who you are.

The best bit about blogging in this way has always been coming across similar people. Wonderful, brilliant, lovely people. 

Before Twitter, you did this through comment sections and emails. You made "friends" with other writers who were experiencing the same things, you offered advice under their blog posts, a quick "nothing to say, but I'm here." to someone like you who needed it.

You made connections and revealed things that were way beyond the superficial promotion you see below most lifestyle, beauty or fashion blogs that are everywhere now. Some of these people gradually became friends in real life, something that, for me, will never stop being the best thing about the internet.

There was an implicit agreement in all this: you know about my life, I know about yours. That was the deal. 

Which brings me to the flipside: when people know more about you than you do about them.

It's inevitable when you reach a certain point; you haven't ever been able to know every reader, and you certainly can't now.

But with Twitter broadcasting links to a wider audience, the amount of non-bloggers reading blogs has never been higher. 

Which is how you come to experience this weirdly vulnerable feeling: when you're in conversation with someone who knows your innermost thoughts and the course of your life, and all you know about them is a name and the strength of their handshake.

It jolts you into becoming aware that what you're writing now goes further than the blog. Before publishing, you start thinking less about whether your parents would mind if they read it, and more "would I want to expand on this to someone I didn't know?"

And the answer, sometimes, is "no."

So you don't post. You end up stopping completely because there's nothing that feels right to say. You edit and edit to the point where there's nothing to publish, and then you realise you've taken a break. 

You take the anonymous cap off, do something else, and wait.

And then, after a little bit of time out and a little bit of reassessing, you think that maybe, maybe, a bit at a time, you might come back. 


Dominic said...

I've tried blogging anonymously many times.

It never worked - I could never keep it going.

The only blog I've managed to keep alive is the public one which tells anyone who cares exactly who I am.

There's an odd freedom in not being anonymous.

Exile on Pain Street said...

I thought this was one of those good-bye posts.

It's me. Unbearably Banished. I got bored and tinkered with my site. It beats being bored and Googling old girlfriends.

Blonde said...

Totally get what you mean. Hope the time out does what you want it to. x

P said...

Blogging anonymously is a scary idea to me - I am in awe of those who can do it. I would be too scared I would get caught because I TOTALLY overshare.

London-Lass said...

Aside from the odd `close call' I think I've managed to maintain my anonymity rather well. But then it does help that I blog on a very ad-hoc basis. So have a readership of about four (which includes me and my mum).

Katie Khan said...

This so precisely explains why I gave up my blog. For all the same reasons, I couldn't bare all anymore. Thanks for pinpointing why.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I will continue to hope that you do pick up the blogging again anyway KK x

Jo said...

Oh! Well, i've just been reading down, from a link I saw on Twitter, and loving your writing and your calm little way of explaining things in your life. You remind me of a lovely colleague of mine (though you're not, don't worry!).

So - I'm not someone you'll know, but I've been blogging long enough to know what it means to react to a voice, a story, a style with a friendly response - wanted to post something to show you can be talking to a stranger and still have them react like a friend :)

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Thanks Jo, that's a nice comment to read. Glad you liked reading the blog and I hope you stick around x


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