Saturday, March 11, 2006

Blogging, anonymity and the Blog Awards

THAT girl at Thinking Out Loud raised some interesting points on her Irish Blog Awards nominated site (well we need the plug, as does McDara after the many plugs given to the other Best Blogger category nominees) about her reluctance to have her pic posted on the internet.

I have pretty much been having the same thoughts.

I suppose firstly I want to protect my daughter’s anonymity and she doesn’t need to see her ma plastered (maybe literally if the Merrion cocktails go well :)) on a website.

While I might blog about our lives together there is so much more about our lives that will never make these pages, it’s my space and I can, as far as possible within the parameters I set myself, dictate what goes on.

The bottom line is that I never want to compromise her.

These parameters have changed over time as I have learned more about blogging.

One of these parameters concerns the loss of my anonymity and it’s something that I have thought about for while.

I started off blogging by accident really, I had heard about them but hadn’t searched them out and then I read Things I hate about my flatmate.

Having shared flats with people, some of the posts were similar to incidents I’d encountered during my flatsharing stage of life, some of it was just mad granted but I set up my own within an hour of reading it.

While partly inspired by the Flatmate blog, there was also an ‘incident’ at home, I can’t even remember what now, and I started blogging about the Young Wan being in disgrace and how the doggie was getting the family inheritance.

I told no one and I have to say I felt I could write about anything, my parameters felt boundless. It was going to be my space where no one knew me where I could write anything.

I had no problem being personal, maybe just not too personal.

Like many others my first visitors mostly came from the States though it felt like no one stopped by for any length of time and few commented, so it felt like no one was reading.

Then Joe Bloggs in the Sunday Tribune included my ‘Don’t talk to me about U2’ post and the amount of Irish visitors went through the roof that Sunday and Monday.

Of course I had to tell someone, I was bursting, so I told some friends and pretty soon they were dropping by and telling others. And in situations many of ye will identify the conversations were along these lines:

Me: Well you see I started a blog and…

Friend: A what??!?

After explaining and pointing them in the direction of Red Mum, I sat nervously wondering would they wonder about me.

They probably did and do and that was the beginning of the end for anonymity and the beginning of sometimes being self-conscious about what I was writing.

Though I realise now that the nature of what I have written about, taken photos of, whatever, would have probably had the same effect on my anonymity anyway.

I do feel restricted somewhat by this, but it’s not a real problem. IF I really want to write things I do not want particular people to read I can just start another anonymous blog, knowing what I know now.

Those restrictions, for want of a better word, don’t bother me anymore.

Since then I have realised that it is only a matter of time before I am sussed though while realising this I was still sort-of hesitant about going to the Blog Awards.

And while I may still have reservations, the craic of the evening was far too big a pull, never mind the mad, off-chance of getting a gold Barbie doll.

So I decided to kinda out myself to those who may find out who haven’t already.

At the same time I still want to preserve my internet anonymity as far as possible, like That Girl I have also had an internet stalker.

At first it was actually funny, but it got a bit creepy when this mad American Internet Stalker woman got my home phone number and left a very long crazy message.

This stemmed from some years ago when I used to post on a newsgroup which had this mad lurker. She got it into her head I was having a relationship with a bloke from the group who she went out with previously.

It began when I started receiving crazy pages-long emails from this mad ‘un under different alias where she called me everything and told me mad stories about her relationship with this fella.

Ignoring them seemed to be the best course of action however she started emailing other people with awful stuff about me.

While it was mad I was still kinda laughing at this and it all calmed down and stopped, or so I thought. All this took place two years ago and then about six months ago she phoned my bloody house and left a long message on my answering machine.

I was absolutely livid, my daughter could have picked up that message, though in fairness it took me a while to figure out that this American woman who left such a long, sprawling, diatribe of nonsense was actually the Internet Stalker.

So I reckon the Young Wan would have deleted the message thinking some mad person was trying unsuccessfully to sell us a cruise.

The worst thing is at that time there were countless hang-ups on our phone and I just put it down to teenage nonsense.

Turns out this woman thinks me and yer man are married, seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

Anyway I am (kinda nervously) looking forward to the awards, there are loads of people I would like to meet and it has been hard not to get caught up in the excitement.

Right what the feck am I going to wear? (I’d love a lovely Donna Karan number Damien but I can’t think of anything like that in my wardrobe) so I guess I will see (and meet) many of you later…

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Simon said...

Ya i worry about that as well. i recently moved to use my first name but i don't think i would use my surname. something nice about knowing the blogger. For instance next time someone opens the door in a shop for you it could be twenty major.:)

Claire said...

Seems that a few of us are having similar thoughts. Although when I started my blog I jumped in with both feet and named myself and put loads of photos up (just none of me). Now I kind of wish I'd been a little shyer about it all.

I'm glad to hear you're coming along tonight. I'm looking forward to meeting my first commenter :)

...and I mean that in a totally non-internet stalker way!

that girl said...

Oh I'm glad other people are thinking the same thing...I thought it was just me! I am happy to post personal stuff on my blog but it's stuff I choose. I have a major issue with people posting photos to the internet where people's consent has not been acquired...It's simply not alright to use someone's image and once it's out there, it's never going to be retrieved. Having said that, I am happy for people to know who I am when I meet them in "real life" so I'm looking forward to seeing you all this evening!

levee said...

Good post....stumbled across from Irish Blogs!

Yeah, I try and stay anonymous too, for pretty much the same reasons. You'll never know exactly who is reading your blog and how close they are to you. Especially with young 'uns it's best to be cautious.

Ellen said...

I enjoyed your entry. I decided to use my real name. I'm new to this and hope that I am not making a mistake although I want to be able to write about stuff in a fufn way that the kids can read up on when they are older. I asked them for their permission to use their photos, that is my 11 year old and my 14 year old and I will try not to abuse their trust but if they do something I find fun or out of the ordinary I WILL write about it.
Heard your name in connection with the Awards and thats why I decided to check in on your site. Congrats and wondering how did you do and if you didnt win do you know who did?