Monday, June 18, 2007
I am not anonymous. When I started to "blog," I used "pastor diane" for a few days, then I dropped "pastor", but used my whole name in the "about me" section of my blog. When I first blogged, I even told people in my congregation about it, thinking they might read what I write. I think a few of them do, but I don't know for sure. I didn't really think about being "anonymous" then.
I thought about "blogging" for a long time before I started actually to do it. I started thinking about it because a) my step-son, who is a writer and journalism major, started talking about his blog, 2) I read about the "revgals", women in ministry who started a webring, 3) I read about "blogging" in a book called Writing to Change the World, by Mary Pipher, 4) I wanted a venue to get me writing again, 5) I wanted to "get out there" in some way. I didn't do it because 1) I didn't have any idea how to start a blog. I thought I needed special software and would be creating my own web-site. 2) I am not awfully computer literate. I know how to do word-processing. I don't know from hyper-links.
I bugged Journalism step-son for a long time, "teach me how to start a blog." Finally he gave me http://www.blogger.com/ I kept it on my desk for about 6 months, before one afternoon, I started. I started with an article I had submitted to our local newspaper. I had never done anything like that before, and of course, they didn't print it.
After blogging for oh, about 5 days, I discovered that many bloggers are anonymous. Maybe most are. So why didn't I think of that? Sometimes I kick myself now. There are things perhaps that I could write about if I were anonymous. It really would then be an on-line journal, and I could get advice from my new virtual friends. And I am enjoying the "virtual community" of bloggers I have discovered who read and encourage one another.
I tell myself that I chose to use my name because I think of this as a public venture. When you go pubic, you always have to choose -- what is safe to reveal (for yourself and for others) and what you need to hide. Those of us who use our names are still anonymous, in some ways. My secret desire has always been to write a book, and get it published. And of course, I would never use a pseudonym if I published a book. There's a part of me who wants to be famous -- maybe not with my picture on the book jacket, but at least with my name on the cover.
But RealLivePreacher went public too, but without his real name. His desire was purer, perhaps. His writing is strong, and poignant. I could have done that. I could have written for the pure desire of it, just put it out there without a name, and seen what happened.
But I didn't.
I think that all of us, whether we are "anonymous" or not, are always choosing: what will we share, and what will we hide? This is of course based both on considerations about ourselves and others. At a blog I discovered recently, the author pointed out that in order to remain anonymous, she needs to make sure she doesn't share certain things about herself. I had never thought of that before.
I still blog because I want to write, to go public with my thoughts, ideas, opinions. I fancy that others will find them edifying, maddening, enlightening. I hope so, anyway. And I remind myself that this task, done well, takes a certain amount of courage: whether I am anonymous or not. It takes courage to be honest, really honest about ourselves and about the world.
And I want to remind myself that there are people who are anonymous because nobody knows them or cares about their fate, because they don't have a voice in the world. They don't choose to be anonymous, and anonymity isn't safe for them. Think Darfur. There are times when it is safe to be anonymous (fleeing domestic violence). And there are times when it is dangerous. Help me to remember that.