Anonymity — What’s the Point?

I’ve been thinking a lot about anonymity lately.

When I started this blog nearly 3 years ago I didn’t want ANYONE to know about it. It was just going to be me and my writing. I quickly realized that that was boring… I wanted more.

I wasn’t ready to give it all up though, I still needed my “fence”, (oh Wilson, I heart you!) and so, after laboriously searching for my “new identity”, Shop Girl was born. If you’ve ever wondered why I chose that name, I’ve got three words for you–You’ve Got Mail. I have many, many family nicknames that I love, unfortunately signing off as “Beef” didn’t seem to fit with my theme. haha! So, after watching You’ve Got Mail for the millionth time (Meg Ryan + Tom Hanks = ) I saw Meg Ryan’s online identity was “Shop Girl” and it just clicked. That was me.

I opened my blog up to visitors (though they were few and far between in those days… haha) and decided to see what would happen. I was still very rigid–nicknames for everyone, no clues as to where I lived, where I went to school, etc and absolutely no pictures.

It was nearly a year before I decided that maybe a picture now and then couldn’t hurt. Then I decided it was probably okay if people knew where I grew up… and eventually even became comfortable admitting that I lived in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

Then I started teacher’s college and my professors scared the crap out of me. Seriously. We had a workshop about how public our lives become as teachers and that night I purged anything even remotely incriminating from my personal Facebook profile and hiked the security settings up as high as they go. And then there was my little blog… what to do, what to do? I actually did my first podcast about my security concerns and eventually moved to a password protected blog on WordPress… which obviously didn’t last as you’re here. Reading THIS blog. I soon realized that I was overreacting… I don’t live my life in such a way that I would have anything to be ashamed of. I was googled once by my students last year, and while I had a mini-panic attack when I found out, things were fine.

Which brings me to now. I still try to remain semi-anonymous, but I find myself feeling just a twinge of jealousy when I see bloggers living completely out in the open. I DO enjoy this game of anonymity, but sometimes it’s a bit tiring. For once it’d be nice to sign off with MY name, even though I love being Shop Girl with all my heart.

The Hubster forwarded a link to me earlier this week which turned these already swirling thoughts of anonymity into a full-blown mind tornado (ha… tornado. In my mind. I wish I could draw, that would make an excellent cartoon. haha!). I’m not sure if you’ve been following it, but recently anonymous bloggers have been in the spotlight as one blogger decided to call model Liskula Cohen a “skank” and a “psycho”. This model decided to sue the blogger for defamation, and Google was ordered to produce the identity of the then anonymous blogger.

I was reeeeally surprised by this. It never even occurred to me that this was possible– my anonymity is sacred! I know many people who know me read my blog, and I’m very grateful that I’ve never been “outed”.

I guess I’m just a complete muddle of thoughts right now. While I’m slowly revealing more pieces of who I am, I’m definitely not ready to shed my mask just yet. I can expect little to no privacy in my chosen profession–high school students love to Google their teachers! Believe me, I know… so this remains my little happy place, free from those who could potentially twist it against me. *sigh*

Are you anonymous? Is it really important to you? Why?

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