"The growth of understanding follows an ascending spiral rather than a straight line." ~Joanna Field

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Anonymity, the Internet and me.

So I'm reading on Cracked.com (yes, you are welcome to change your perception of me, however I've mentioned this habit before...) and this article came up.

And I realised, I had this discussion with a friend the other day. Or at least a similar one. Which is what sparked the Housekeeping post last Friday. But it has been festering in my mind, so I thought I'd go more in depth. Which is your cue to put on your spiraled infinity glasses, because this will get convoluted.

Any way. For the most part I don't mind being transparent to the internet. There is nothing I do or say that I consider odd or wrong enough to warrant my eminent arrest/murder/virgin sacrifice. So I put pretty well everything I do and say under that handy-dandy pseudonym ekobor, and call it a day. ekobor is directly linked in many places to my real name, people in real life know I go by it and see my actions. Many things I do and say around the web are linked directly into my Facebook account for perusal by my family, friends, peers, possible employers...

I like it that way because it lets me feel like a cohesive person, even in a place filled with empty shells of anonymous ghosts. If I say or do something in one place, a quick search allows anyone to find things I've said or done in other places. My slow accumulation of distaste for lobster can be chronicled by anyone who feels the need to do so. (Side note, if you feel the need to do so, please contact anyone, any where. Your life has reached an all-time high level of boredom, you may soon die of it).

Of course, this means if there is anything I ever want to do that I don't want people to see, it gets stickier. Like watching Rubik's cube solves. While I openly admit to learning how to solve a Rubik's cube and not being a natural solver, maybe I don't want people to see me asking questions of the people I learn from. It makes me feel less smart. (Though it was the Square-1 this occurred with).

Now, that is a bit petty, I admit, but it is something I try to avoid for the most part. I like feeling smart. But there are other things and places that I do and go to that I might not want others to see.

For a while in my life I frequented a forum for people in crisis, Suicide Forum. (Side note, if you are feeling depressed, this is a great community to get some casual help) There were things I was feeling that would scare people if I put them publicly out there, and I would have to deal with uncomfortable questions. So you'll note that there is no ekobor in the member list. (And if there is, it isn't me). When I go to 4Chan I use a different name (Though I don't stick with the plain "Anonymous" either) because the only reason I use 4Chan is to get away from myself from time to time.

I can count the number of places I am intentionally not open on one hand, and I like it that way.

Sure, I don't want any Joe-blow knowing my phone number, library card, SIN, Drivers License, etc, but I walk around showing people my face and heritage, telling them my name and age, and most can guess my sex. So I see no reason to leave that out from most places. I'm not going to jump into a rant on the heteronormative, androcentric, misogynistic state of the world to any random passer-by, and so similarly keep such out bursts to myself online as well. My desire to use gender-neutral pronouns and to be seen gender-neutrally, as well as my sexuality, I will mention if asked, and am the same way online.

Really the only thing I can think of that changes between online and "IRL" (in real life, for those not acronystically savvy) is that I am more bold online. That doesn't come from the anonymity though, it comes from the ability to quickly fact-check, to use words more fluidly than in real life, and from talking to people with a world view vastly different than my own.

So, yes, where was I? Oh, yes, while I don't have any great reason to be all mysterious and anonymous online, I still have times where I want to be free of being me, and being seen. And an internet without anonymity would be a sadder place for me, in some respects.


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