The Thing About Anonymity

I really want to address this topic, because it’s so relevant to me and how I handle my privacy online.

When I first came to the internet, I really didn’t know a lot about internet privacy and security, and I used my real name everywhere all the time. Every time I get asked for a username, I just use my real name. I also felt this compulsive need to have an account on all the websites I could find. I didn’t know any better. To be fair, it was my first exposure, and everything looked so fun, and no one gave me any points to remember. Obviously, you know where this is going…

Well, in short, people change, and the changes that we have gone through all these years may or may not particularly please us when we look back.

You know when you’re young, and you post a lot of stuff online, do a lot of stuff online, that only embarrass you later, leave a lot of trail for other people to look at and follow if they look your name up… I had a lot of regrets. On top of that, I had a personal journal (ahh, my LiveJournal days) where I was very transparent and honest about the goings-on in my life. I didn’t hold anything back. I completely poured everything out. I name-dropped if needed be to keep the information accurate on my journal. That combination of honesty and transparency scared me. I felt that I couldn’t be too honest if everyone knew. I felt and I still feel this need to “protect” my image, even though I don’t really have anything to hide. It’s just that these things, that journal, are a reflection of my innermost thoughts. At that time, I was beginning to realize that, there are some parts of myself that I want to keep only to myself. That’s when it probably hit me to be more mindful about my online privacy.

I also am not the person who is open about everything in real life; I’m more the reserved and private type. It would definitely be a nightmare if the people I know in real life find out about all the embarrassing things I posted online in my younger years. In the short time I was on the internet, I was already ashamed of all the things I posted, so I can only imagine how the embarrassment would intensify after some more time. Moreover, the internet remembers forever, and everything you post online is tattooed to it. So, even if my opinions might change after some years, after some education, the internet might only remember me as this ignorant fool who had said ignorant things in the past. The worse part is my real name is tethered to it.

And I just wanted to hide.

I want that personal freedom. Anonymity gives me the willingness to be more true in all things. We all know that it works both ways: good and bad. For me, I love the freedom it’s given me. I’m not honestly very outspoken, but that anonymity has given me that platform to be, and, over the years, I have learned that I actually have a lot of opinions!

I keep saying “anonymity,” but truthfully, I don’t feel anonymous in any way. The online persona I have built for myself is also who I am. I’m not saying that I am compartmentalizing myself; no, I am just expressing myself in a way that I would not have been able to if everybody had their eyes on me. I am Lysianthus. I am not not Lysianthus, because everything she says is what the me in real life says. We are the same person. We are not different at all. (I also hate it when people have two specific categories for life: real life and online life. To me, there is no difference, and there isn’t supposed to be! Everything is just one life.)

I felt, when I was just beginning to write this post, that I should express my envy for people who does not feel the need to create a different persona for themselves online. As I’m writing this paragraph, I am having mixed feelings if I really should. Why? What makes them different and admirable? Anyway, people can do whatever they want. (I just confused myself here and probably you as well.)

One day, it would be a dream if I can find a compromise for myself — to let the two roads meet. I wonder if that would be a con-less thing. I doubt, but I’m sure it’s going to happen in some way. Or maybe I doubt that, too. For now, though, let me enjoy this freedom!

2 Replies to “The Thing About Anonymity”

  1. I feel your frustrations about being anonymous and not being anonymous online. I also agree with you that your past online posts definitely follow you around and sometimes they even define who you are or were.

    While I understand that there’s a need for privacy, I too battle these thoughts through my mind of not revealing my real name on most of my domains. The only reason being that I have yet to find an alias for my online self is simply because I can’t think of any aliases that I’d like and would suit as to who I am as a whole. If that makes any sense? Like you, I want to be anonymous, but I know that the people from my past already knows about my sites, and I wish they didn’t. There’s such a thing as stalking and that also follows you around no matter what you do online.

    I always felt that online life and offline are two different entities. I also felt that you have a first impression online that will haunt you until you decide to end it all online. My first impression with some of the younger crowd is (and I’ve been told this by several of them) that I create unnecessary drama and whine about it. Yet, how am I creating unnecessary drama when I’m being confronted about something totally stupid and they’re the ones starting it by confronting me about it? I just don’t get that. Also, being anonymous has lead to many frustrations of my own in the past where I have been stalked, harassed, and even trolled. IT sucks, but what can I do? I’ve done everything, except listen to a few people who have told me to just stop altogether. But I can’t. I love web designing and creating sites for whatever purpose the sites have. Ya know? I find it really hard to up and quit sometimes for something that I love doing. Blogging has always been wishy-washy with me. I don’t think, I will ever quit blogging, but if I do, it’s because I’m bored with it.

    I’m sorry, I kind of got off topic a bit. I tend to do that.

    1. It’s definitely difficult to start over once you’ve gotten so far already. People already know you as someone, and you’ve established so much of your identity on the internet that starting over means throwing it all away. It takes a lot of discernment and courage to do that, that thinking up of a name is really the least of your problems. 😅

      And no matter what kind of identity you have online, really, “anonymous” or not, there will always be people who we’ll end up disagreeing with. There’s definitely no escaping that.

      As for choosing a name, I think whatever name you end up choosing, you’ll end up getting used to it eventually! It just sticks. 🙂

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