The Drawback of Anonymity

I started blogging about three years ago. I liked it. (Duh. I’m still here writing things nearly every day…more on a hiatus coming up in a bit, though…)
One of the things I liked the most when I started was the anonymity. It gave me a freedom to be myself. I know that sounds weird. But it’s true. I don’t ever pretend to be someone I’m not in my real life, and I know there are a not insignificant number of people who use the anonymity available in some online spaces to pretend to be someone else, or to just act like a cruel jackass, but for me, I could say things I wanted to say but censored myself with people I know to keep peace. To avoid confrontation.

And oddly, this has led to some people who really KNOW me now. On a much deeper level than the vast majority of the people who’ve ‘known’ me for most of if not my entire life. And I know some of these people on a deep level too. But a few of them…I know them fairly well…maybe even extremely well…but I don’t know their full name…where they live…what they do for a living…because we all want to maintain our anonymity.

And this is fine with me actually. I like my anonymity and I respect everyone else’s. I get it. And I don’t think I need to know a person’s real name or what they look like or their home address or job to care about them in a very intimate and personal way. Some of my best friends? I’ve never seen their face. I don’t know what their spouse’s name is. And they don’t know my identifying information either. It’s okay with me. It really is.

Anonymity (mine and my friends made through blogging’s) has only really bothered me under two circumstances…

  1. When an online friend abruptly and mysteriously disappears. Because I wonder and worry if they are alright, and I wonder and worry if something I said or did drove them away. That’s just my heightened empathy and social anxiety presenting itself. It sucks, but I mean…it’s kind of expected, and not unlike the reaction I’d have to a ‘real life’ person I felt close to suddenly removing themselves from contacting me/my life. So this isn’t anonymity-specific bother. But number two is.
  2. When someone whose identity I don’t know has done something to greatly improve your life in some way.

I know. Number Two sounds like the opposite of a problem. It’s not a ‘problem.’ But I have a relentless drive to thank people and reciprocate kindness and favors, etc. that are done for me. When I don’t know who the person IS? I can’t properly thank or repay them. And that honestly creates a little anxiety. I mean, it’s not my usual ‘bad’ anxiety. But it’s definitely a little unsettling.

Two years ago, I self-published my first novel, Building: A Love Story. And a blogger who was (and maybe still is?) really popular and respected on the platform I used to market my work at the time promoted it and complimented my skills as a writer. HE was (is) a great writer. That’s why his blog was so popular. So that praise and encouragement was really moving and astounding to me. There was some very concrete evidence that his promotion greatly and immediately affected the sales of my first book, and an argument can easily be made that it affected the future sales of ALL the books I’ve written. I also know his approval of blog posts I wrote sent new readers my way, even if I’d never published any fiction. This man is responsible for at *least* a quarter of all of my book sales, and at least indirectly responsible for almost everyone who reads the things I write. I mean, if one traced my audience back to origins, I’m sure nearly all of them can be traced to him claiming to like or agree with something I wrote. I met my best friend because this man liked something I wrote, and she chose to follow my blog.

strangers

I mean…how do I thank someone for that? I’m not sure I could adequately thank him even if I DID really know who he was. But I don’t. So…I just write stuff like this about him. On the very off chance that he reads this blog, and sees this, I hope he recognizes himself in this writing and knows just how greatly he’s appreciated. He’s really done a whole lot for me and I don’t have any sort of meaningful way to reciprocate it. This is all I’ve got. Thank you…friend?

strangers

The books I’ve written can be downloaded and purchased here.
Today’s the last day of the big birthday book sale.

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