Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The paradox of anonymity is that you can be more yourself.

Anonymity enables us bloggers. Intimacy, truthfulness, genuine feeling, none of these would be possible without being anonymous. One expresses frustrations with lab, with particular people, one shares one's stories-be they funny, sad, outrageous or mundane. We all do these things under the comforting cover of anonymity. the first post about one's lab is made with trepidation, will someone see me? What if they find out? Then gradually, acquisition of a blog-persona emboldens you, you become Veo Claramente when you're typing, not Dr. Postdoc. You say the things that you have always thought and only told Postdoc Parents, Postdoc siblings, Mr. Postdoc-to-be or those always lovely and amazing Fellow Postdoc friends. Writing comes pouring out and suddenly people are reading! Someone comments, and you're on your way. You have this different life, almost, and you feel free to talk about the things that bother you. And then some.

Anonymity also shields some truly repellent people, who stalk and threaten. Trolls who lurk and comment. Malicious bloggers who use also their anonymity to liberate themselves, but to liberate their bad sides (maybe I shouldn't assume these people have good sides, but) and let it hang out in all its stinking glory. Freedom is universal after all, and can be used in any way. Your personal code is the only thing that prevents its misuse. The protection of anonymity is offered to everyone.

Here's the rub, It really bothers me that we should should we need it. The need to hide bad behaviour is obvious, the need to hide frustration less so. Why do we have to be careful about voicing our frustrations as long as we are reasonably polite and resort to only limited name-calling? Why is it that we face the possibility of reprisals for expressing opinions and telling it as we see it? I do have a quixotic sense of justice and what the world should be, but even so. Something is not right if so many people are out there, blogging about being grad students, postdocs or faculty, all staying anonymous and guarding that anonymity intensely. Hey, I'm not "coming out". I feel like I should be able to without the fear of destructive consequences. However, if I was guaranteed no bad consequences, would I turn Veo Claramente into a pseudonym? I don't know. My conscience and my sense of what is right would be satisfied, but I don't know if I want all the things I say to be attributable to me. I really don't know.

What would you do if you could out yourself without negative consequences?

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