It's been an annoying day. After a weekend of rest to recharge the batteries, I bounced out of bed this morning with high hopes. I finally had some success collecting data late last week for a project I'm working on. My goal for today was to check out some changes I made late Friday afternoon and collect more data. That dream is not to be, however. Things are broken, and I am left trying to puzzle out what is wrong and wait for software to be rebuilt.
The rebuild cycle is giving some time ponder the topic of anonymity in relation to what I write here. It is an issue I've come across in a number of different contexts lately. A fellow Diarylander is dealing with issues around meeting folks who regularly read her diary. My Dad asked me for the URL to my diary last week. Finally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation recently published an article discussing how and why one should consider blogging anonymously.
I generally have a rather positive and optimistic view of the online population. In the 15+ years I have been online, I've met some great people "online" who turned out to be good friends "offline" (i.e. in the real world.) Heck, I even met Mrs. Geek that way. True, there have been some weird folks with odd agendas (some of whom are mentioned here in other entries that I can't find -- I need to index this thing) that made for a tense moment or two. Those people were exceptions though... the vast majority of people I've met online have been, if not friends, at least good mannered and pleasantly disposed. Then again, nothing I've said about myself or written about screams dangerous behavior -- no cutting, no binge drinking, no diatribes about pulsing club beats on ecstasy and cocaine, no tales of unprotected sex.
I sometimes wonder how much of this sense of security exists because I am male. I've known enough women who've met others online to know that their experience can be very different. It's like being a beautiful woman sitting alone in a very crowded bar -- you will get all kinds of offers from all kinds of people, most of them exactly the sort you don't want.
I am reminded of a story I read in Rolling Stone about Bob Dylan some years ago. In it, the author (a music critic and avid Dylan fan) muses about how weird it must be to be Bob. The ultimate goal for hard core Dylan fans (or Bobcats) is access: the ability to interact with the Master himself, and see how each creative seed turns into a flowering musical work of genius. Bob (naturally) does not want his life turned upside down by the needs of his fans, and so he remains largely inscrutible to the public. This leads to other nuttiness of course; obsessive Bobcats have created all sorts of bizarre theories about him and his music over the years -- to that point that Bob has needed to sue a few of them who insisted on spouting them a little too close to his person. Even the article's author succumbed to this atmosphere of weirdness once or twice; while following Bob on tour during the late '90's, he used a regular set break in three or four concerts to yell apologies for a savage review of a Renaldo and Clara he wrote for the Village Voice in the 1970's.
No, there is extreme weirdness out there that is often looking for a comfortable place to rest and put its feet up. I try to keep this diary fairly anonymous in order to prevent that place from becoming my life. This is only good sense.
I am weary of too many people who know me too personally from reading this. I do vent here. While I am not embarassed by anything I've written, some of the more personal material falls into the category of things that I'd rather not necessarily say to some people to their faces. It would not be politic, as they say. Broadcasting certain feelings would not change a thing for the better, and probably make things worse.
That leaves me with some questions. What do I tell others about how anonymous to make their diaries? Should I make this diary more or less anonymous? Should I let my parents read this? I don't know.
on 2005-04-11 at 3:44 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond