Blogging Behind the Mask
I blog under my real name. Don't believe me, check out my Profile. Its been viewed 1284 times since May of 2005. That's 1284 people (more or less) who know who I am.
Blogging under my real name is sometimes a pain in the butt. Why? To put it simply, I am accountable for what I say. That accountability works itself out in a lot of ways.
For instance, I can't say outrageous things about people. I can't pass along rumors. I can't personally attack anyone. I can't break confidences. . . . Well, I guess I could. But then all the people I know in non-internet life would know about it, and I would be damaging my relationships and reputation.
I can not say whatever I want. Some of my opinions I need to keep to myself. I don't spout every thought I have about politics, religion, current events, sports, or whatever. I have to be sure I am saying what I mean, and meaning what I say. My opinions matter to others.
I am also vulnerable to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and outright attack. Anonymous bloggers get hurt too, to be sure. But that hurt is compartmentalized. If I am hurt, or if I hurt others, it carries over directly into the rest of life.
A couple of days ago, my friend J-- and I were talking on the phone. He asked if I ever considered blogging anonymously. He saw that I was getting personally hurt by something. He might also know that I have to "hold my tongue" once in a while. He thought that if I were anonymous, then I could engage in these things more aggressively, with less fear of injury.
I have thought about that several times. Sometimes I want to start an anonymous blog and just spout stuff at will. I could tell you who I think is a jerk, and what groups I'm mad at today. I could be like the guys who spout off about their companies, saying things that would easily get them fired if they said it in the office.
It seems the internet is full of people who are creating alternative identities. I don't have to give you any evidence of that, you might well have an alternative identity yourself. Perhaps you are anonymous on the web. I don't know, and I don't mind. I understand the impulse. However, there is a sense in which anonymity only further fosters the break-down of community, real relationships, and accountability.
I want my blog to be a place where I can be better known, and I can better connect with others. My blog is a hobby, and its also a document of self-exploration and self-expression. But its also a forum for real connection. And because I am accountable to "real-world" people, its a place where I can further develop integrity.
"Integrity" means "the quality or condition of being whole or undivided" In other words, its being the same thing through and through. One of my daily prayers is that I will be, by God's grace and in his way, the same person on the outside that I am on the inside. This blog has integrity, I hope, partially because I hope to be the same me "here" as I am at church, with my friends and family, or at the Kroger.
So, for that reason, I choose not to wear a mask. I am challenged to grow because you may already know who I am.