Monday, August 24, 2009

Is it time to come out?

When I started this blog I was thinking it would be a place for me to post my Friday Smiles instead of emailing them to my friends (like I used to). Those Friday Smiles started back in 1998 or so, while I was still an employee of Mortel. They go back a long way. It was getting difficult to manage since some friends didn’t want anything religious, others didn’t want anything about sex, etc. so I was administering too many distribution lists. I started this blog and sent an email to all my friends letting them know they would have to come here to get their Friday Smiles. Technically, all my friends (and relatives) know about this blog and my pseudonym. I only posted five jokes and then it took a turn for a personal blog type of thing. Instead of writing in my journal I would write on here. Since I started this adventure, I’ve posted 170 Friday Smiles among 749 posts… Yep, this is my 750th post! It doesn’t feel like that many and yet…

Since I started blogging I’ve been “Stinkypaw”. I didn’t really know if the people I told about this were really reading it so I tried to keep my identity “confidential” in a way, at least for anybody new who would come along. I’ve never showed my face nor used my name and I did the same for my friends and relatives. I've played the blogging game if you wish.

I’ve been thinking about this blogging thing and how thru my (what?) three years now how I’ve met some wonderful people, or at least I think so. I’ve developed some friendships as well, not just by leaving a comment here and there, but through some exchanges (like chatting, emails, FB, food and even phone calls) I got to know people I wouldn’t have had a chance to meet otherwise. For that alone I’m happy I started blogging. I’m no writer, far from it, I write the way I speak (mostly) and at times I share a little too much. I’m like that. I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not. Except…

I’ve been wondering if it’s time for me to “come out”, you know, reveal my true ID? I must say I like having this faceless place. It’s almost like a security blanket. I’ve shared parts of me on here that people who do know my face may not know. This isn’t because I’m ashamed or self-conscious; it’s just a fact. I (the middle-aged woman (O.M.G.!), living in Montréal (thus French-Canadian), happily married (still!) and working from home most days) enjoy sharing things with you without you knowing what I look like. Blogging, in a certain way, has been like reading many different books, we have to use our imagination and “picture” each other. At times I’d like to be “out” (like on FB, but there some don’t know (or remember) I blog), and then I read a post like I did last week where the blog author is being stalked, and I wonder…

The internet is a place full of weirdos, we all know that, and yet through my blogs I haven’t felt like I’ve met those. I’ve met nice people (or so I think). True some could make up their lives, their stories, but I haven’t (yet) landed on a blog that would be so extraordinary. Oh, maybe Charlie* is in fact a young dumb man instead of this older bookworm gentleman, but really, who cares? Maybe he’s a woman for all I know. Whatever he/she is, I like him/it/her!

Does it really matter that we don’t know what we look like, if we’re young or older, or even our really name and where we live? I don’t really think it does, what do you think?

* I used Charlie here, but it could have been any of you.


cinnamon girl said...

It is quite possible that the reason you haven't met the wierdos is that you haven't revealed yourself....
I like the fact that blogger anonymity has helped me interact with people I wouldn't on face value... but on the other hand it is really nice to see the person behind the blog.
If I hadn't already with you, I would be dying of curiosity!

Marius said...

As you know I don't play the anonymous game all that well, and so far I have had no problems, but then again I'm a middle-aged man(so far as you know) ;-) I'd say that the odds are in your favor that you have a solid base of true blends that would insulate you from any weirdos, plus you are quite capable of defending yourself should a 'real life' encounter happen, so if you feel the need to peek through the curtains, I think it's safe enough out here. :-)

Brave Astronaut said...

An interesting conundrum. I, too, have attempted to maintain some anonymity on my blog - but many of my friends all refer to me as Brave Astronaut.

When I started my blog, I did send out an explanatory email about it. So a number of my friends already knew. My blog was also picked up by a blog aggregator and now many of my colleagues get a taste of Order from Chaos whenever I post.

I don't recall how I found you or your blog, but I have enjoyed the "relationship" we have forged here in the ether. I think you'll know what to do when the time comes.

SabrinaT said...

A small part of me wishes I would have kept my identity a secret. Then I could really say what I feel about certain things.

Maybe I will start a ghost blog, but then again I would just end up letting it slip one day.

Titaxy said...

i don't know why i do it with a psuedo-name...but i like it that way...not sure if i'll change my mind any day to come out with the real ID :-)...this works for now, so will continue this way

Kim said...

For a while I struggled with the same thing, but I wrote a lot of personal things about my family (and they found my blog) Now ehh I dont care who reads it or who knows who I am ... im brave like that haha

Green-Eyed Momster said...

I'm pretty sure Charlie is not a woman but how do you know I'm not a man? LOL!!

I've been thinking the same thing. I've given my phone number and address to many bloggy friends and how do I know they aren't serial killers? I don't but I do have a good feeling about those people via their blogs. Maybe I'm just a very trusting person, I don't know.

If you come out, I'll think about coming out too! Okay? ;)


greenduckiesgirl said...

I used to post as Dana Marie Jones (because I love Davy Jones) but came out a long time ago. The only thing I really hide is where I work, that's why the bank I work for is called NABABNA and not the real name. Although, I think I have the real bank name listed on Facebook so I suppose people could put two and two together.

I have never had a problem with anyone using my personal information against me. I did have someone call me a fat idiot once but I still do not know if it was someone I knew in real life. Pretty much it came down to the fact that I said President Bush looked like a trained monkey and they didn't care for that. Whatever, to each their own.

I have also met some lovely people through blogging and have also met them IRL as well. I traveled to Portugal and Wisconsin (obviously not in the same trip, of course) with my friend Beth. It was seriously awesome to meet these people. I would so do it again. Next year I'm thinking about going to Vegas and seeing if Joe in Vegas wants to meet because that would be serious fun.

Anyway, I know your real name and what you really look like and I don't know if I've ever told you how much I love your name and your picture. And knowing you because I think you are awesome. If I ever get to Montreal, I hope we can meet. Or if you come to Minnesota.

Stinkypaw said...

cinn: LOL I'm glad we've met and looking forward to that day when we will IRL as well, 'cause we will, I'm sure of that!

Marius: The capacity doesn't equates to the desire... but thank you, I guess I've been lucky with my base here.

BA: Thanks. I think we've found each other thru the Bearded one, Kim.

SabrinaT: Welcome! Whatever I 'really' want to keep 'secret/private' I write in my journal... other than that, it's all here.

Titaxy: It does feel somewhat secure behind a pseudo-name... doesn't it?

Kim: Of course you're brave, I knew that.

GEM: I know because I spoke to you! Or was that really me/you?

greenduckies: You never said anything about my name/picture (and I'm not sure if you mean here?), but thank you! If ever you make your way this way, we will meet for sure! I'd love to meet you!

Just a grail said...

Hmmm interesting question. I started writing just to get things off my chest, and then someone commented and then someone else and they didn't "know" me but really they did. When some of my friends and family started reading I felt like I had to censor myself a little which I didn't have to do in the beginning.. but that is my issue!
I do know that I look forward to not only your friday smiles, but your wise and honest advice and your comfy even all the way over here shoulder to cry on!
I liked you as Stinkypaw and considered you a blend, but now that I know "you" I like you even better! :-)

kara said...

see, i don't think of you as anonymous. you're stinkypaw and i know all about you and your life in montreal. sure, a face and a name would 'close the loop' as it were, but i'm just happy to know you either way.


Charlie said...

Huh. Imagine me agreeing with Kara.

If you're having second thoughts about coming out, then I would stay in--I LIKE calling you Stinky.

With RSS feeds and Google followers who follow privately, we have no idea who is out there reading us. I vote for not coming out because it will inhibit what you say.

And greenduckies, Bush DID look like a trained monkey.

Stinkypaw said...

Grail: Well, thank you! I like you too as well, and you know I'm here! ;-)

Kara: Gush is right! Right back at you!

Charlie: Thanks, good point about the feeds... and about Bush! ;-)

Barb said...

I've never been anonymous on my blog and, almost exactly 5 years, I haven't had any weirdo stalkers. At one point I had a flamer who lambasted me about being bipolar, but he didn't last long. I've had more supporters.

I've also revealed WAY TMI, and have gone months at a time without blogging (used to be, I'd post 3x/day!) but my true readers, the ones who I've become friends with over the years and have honored me by revealing their identities to me keep coming back.

On occasion I wish I'd kept anonymous, but only so I can vent more about my family! lol

If you've been anonymous all this time, "outing yourself" is a big step and something you should seriously consider. I don't think you'll have to worry about weirdos too much -- just family, friends, and your employer!

Stinkypaw said...

Barb: Thanks for sharing your experience. The only thing that REALLy doesn't worry me is my employer finding out: I'm self-employed! ;-)

the inadvertent farmer said...

Do what makes you comfortable. Everyone has seen my kids, my husband, my camel, my garden...but not me. I don't use real names either, my kids are too important for me to give out too much info. When I first started (within a week) some creep commented that he thought my teenage son was 'so hot' and wanted me to post more pictures of him, bleck... so that sealed the deal for real names.

cinnamon girl said...

If I remember rightly I originally outed myself to you by accident ;-)
I'm glad I did though.

The fear of being 'found' grew and grew until it inhibited me so much that I stopped writing anything worth reading. There are so many things I wanted to say that, put together, would identify me to anyone who knows me. But realistically the people I'd worry about aren't the ones who know me that well - most of those already know what I think about stuff.

Now I'm starting to thaw out and enjoy blogging again, and it was actually toying with the idea of coming out that made me do it. I figured if second-guessing myself so no one can find me is just as exhausting as censoring myself once they have, I might as well just write and hang the consequences. The whole point for me initially was supposed to be about taking a risk. I've decided to be true to that.

If that makes sense.

Barb said...

You might find this article interesting, if you haven't heard the news yet. I don't think you have anything to worry about, though!

Skanks for nothing: Google must ID 'anonymous' blogger

Stinkypaw said...

tif: That would have sealed the deal for me as well, eek. I don't think I'm ready yet. Thanks.

Cinn: You remember correctly. ;-) Go for it, take a risk, anyway, I really wonder how many people reading me really do know me, besides my husband and a few cousins... I haven't written (yet) on here that I'm not willing to address in person either, so... it's all good!

Barb: Interesting article, thank you. You're right, I don't have anything to worry about! ;-)

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