The Third Estate
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The Constraints of Anonymity

Monday, October 29, 2007
Being anonymous can be a pain.

There's a number of posts I've considered writing lately - about the problem of executive power, about how we need to stop waiting for a political Savior, about how no one is going to win the Republican Presidential nomination, even about yard signs...but I haven't. Yet. Because in the end they really aren't what I'd like to say.

Blogs are supposed to be about recording one's thoughts, about clearing the internal air in an external fashion. What's cluttering my mind these days is, of course, my dissertation. But I can't write about that in any real detail, because this blog is anonymous. Discussing the specifics of what I've been dealing with would be tedious to everybody, so maybe I shouldn't be writing about it anyway. But if I can't say what I'm thinking, what's the point of having a blog? There are things I don't say because I worry that it will lead people to me, and there are things I don't say in case one day my real identity is revealed. I can't talk too much about what Brazen does for the same reason. Too many specifics are dangerous.

The blog was supposed to be liberating, but sometimes I think all it's made me realize is my own slavery. Not real slavery of course, but the ever-present fear that I'll suffer the fate of some of my fellow bloggers who've been stalked and harassed because they've said something controversial, or who've been fired just because they had a blog.

The blog isn't the cause of this dilemma, of course - it's simply highlighted an unpleasant reality. When you work for others, even your own private time is not your own. If you voice strong and unpopular political opinions, if you discuss the bad things about your life or your job, and the wrong people discover it - you're ruined. We read stories these days about companies googling present and prospective employees, we are given warnings not to say anything that might be embarrassing on MySpace when we're seventeen years old - and somehow this claustrophobia seems normal. People who step out of line are seen as somehow "asking for it."

I grew up believing I lived in a free country. But I can't criticize my employer in public, I must weigh every word with excruciating care like I'm some politician on campaign (and for the very same reason) just in case somebody sometime might want to comb over my archives and use it against me. Companies monitor emails and keystrokes, if I come up with a cool idea my company can claim it, and if I call someone in Pakistan I'm going to be monitored.

Tell me about how free I am again.

I'm going to finish by quoting the ever-quotable Lincoln:

"When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty - to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:37 PM
  • Dude, that sucks. If you ever need to vent, drop me an email


    By Blogger Seeking Solace, at 8:52 AM  
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