Anonymity

The Internet, like most things, brings with it both the good and the bad. It’s an often (relatively) free mode of information, a consumer gateway, a communication device and even a community of like-minded souls whose appetites for entertainment, information and camaraderie are voracious. The positives are too lengthy to mention, but it’s the negatives that I feel compelled to address.

We live in a society of free speech, at least here in America. I have the right – and ability – to post my true thoughts on my ex’s, to vent about my frustrations and to boast about my successes. Those who read my website also have this unalienable right, and like television or radio or other mediums, have the ability to choose what they want to read. In clear terms, if you don’t like what you see here, go away.

That may sound strong, as I love getting new comments and seeing my site stats rise, being the oft-times narcissistic attention whore that I am or at least portray myself as on this website, but it’s come to a head lately and it’s led me to contemplate something I thought I would never do – shut this site down.

If I am anything, I am a writer. It’s not just what I do, it’s who I am. Having this website, as petty and trite and whatever derogatory comment you would like to say about it, has been an exercise in growth, a much-needed personal journey into the land of the published. After all, one of the hardest things for a writer is obtaining the clips and the credentials – the publication – that validates you as a writer. A vicious cycle, the writing world, where the prerequisite for getting published is BEING published, and vice versa. And even though a blog is essentially a self-publishing venture, it’s endearing and validating to see that there are people out there who not only read what I write, but find many of their own sentiments and feelings in my words. Until recently, it made it all worth it.

Yet by putting myself out there, I’m making myself and my innermost thoughts vulnerable. Sounds logical. Brings me back to my discussions of self-censorship and whether the person I portray myself as on my site is actually who I am. More often than not, it is. My life is basically an open book. Which isn’t always good.

More than my friends’ fears of random stalkers finding out too much about me, it is when how and who I represent myself as begins to affect my life, both at work, and in my personal interactions, that I begin to wonder if the good outweighs the bad.

I have never apologized for who I am. I’m a much different person than I was in middle school, in high school, even in college. It’s the wisdom that a few broken hearts and a woven tapestry of success and failure can give you. It’s the self-awareness that comes with being comfortable with who you are. And yet the fact that I am being judged for this makes me question it all.

My identity is important to me. Not only as the depiction of who I am, but being Aubrey Sabala defines me more than the mere name. I am a daughter, I am a granddaughter, I am a friend. And I am all of these things as Aubrey Sabala. I am proud of my name, and more often than not, proud of who I am. Narcissistic or not, I want to own my writing, and want it associated with who I am, as well as my name.

In the era of Google, where nary a detail is truly held private, having a website is a risk, and it’s a risk I have undertaken knowingly and until now, without much reservation. Having a website using your full name, containing a lot of personal details about yourself, and containing your photographs only ups the ante. It is vulnerability at its greatest extent.

I am not unique in this quandary – Dooce was actually fired for her website, and there are countless others who have gone through conflicts for what they have revealed about themselves online.

And this is the struggle that I am going through – is the risk of judgement by coworkers, friends, foes, and perfect strangers stronger than the desire for accurate self depiction? I am neither ashamed nor insecure about who I am nor who I portray myself as on this site, though apparently others’ judgments do hold credence in the real world. It would be much easier, at least in the short run, to shut the site down, to possibly re-emerge somewhere, sometime, under a different identity, quietly fading into the sunset as yet another casualty of the Web.

Right now, I just don’t know.

13 thoughts on “Anonymity

  1. Oh Aubs…please don’t seccumb to the negative thoughts of the world! I’ve become a dedicated reader of your site and would hate to see this one sided friendship (that I’ve formed in my head) disolve. Screw what others think! Keep on, keepin on girl!

  2. You can’t close down this site, I read it everyday and I look forward to your stories and thoughts as they make me smile with each word I read. I really hope you re-think closing this site, it would make a lot of people sad.

  3. It’s all my fault. At the suggestion of a friend I started reading this blog a couple weeks ago and was impressed enough to link this site from mine (three hits in two months!). I’m cursed. Kinda like that Michael Vick/Madden 2004 jinx going around. Aubrey, keep writing so your faithful long-time readers won’t hate me. Thanks.

  4. Aubrey O’Neil Sabala I will not stand for such craziness as you shutting down your site!! I mean don’t make me move back to Atlanta and kick your behind!! I am serious!! 🙂 Who cares what anyone else thinks your site is my stress relief that makes my days not seem so bad , so you have to keep it…ok!!

  5. Due to the fact that my mother, brothers and elderly aunt read my site, my site has become less, well, racy…
    I find that a challenge.
    You can be poignant and moving without exposing too much, without hurting anyone, without divulging too much truth.
    I like to think of it as an exercise in limits…
    And before you know it, you’ll have your potential audience AND your self satisfied.

  6. As the friend who gets nervous that internet crazies are going to use our pictures to come kill us all in our sleep, I would like to see you use this site to do what you do best…to write. But not about what you had for dinner, what you did over the weekend, who you have a crush on or who you wish you have never had a crush. I want to see you do what I know you can do. WRITE. Be creative. Start that novel that you have talked about for years. Write short stories. Figure out what it is you really want to write about and go for it!

  7. I read just about every day also. And I totally agree with Kelly, you should just start writing a novel-like item here. Although, if you get all Craig Mitchell on us and stop writing at Chapter 24 when there’s easily another 3-4 chapters left, I might become an internet crazy that’ll use your pictures to … well you get the point.

  8. I agree with all your friends! There will always be those who will try to tear what you have down. They are smurking at you right now. Don’t let them have the last laugh. Hang in there and write your best ever.

  9. I agree with all your friends! There will always be those who will try to tear what you have down. They are smurking at you right now. Don’t let them have the last laugh. Hang in there and write your best ever.

  10. Writing is a gift that so very few are blessed with. If you arrive at the decision to remove your web site or stop making new additions to it, we all will miss your ability to enlighten us with your unique outlook on your life and ours. Your ability to transfer your thoughts has also helped me to understand your concerns.
    I stumbled onto your site only recently and regret that I had the ease of speed-reading your work instead of having to patiently wait for new postings as I do now. I suspect the chances of my stumbling onto a new anonymous site you might create are probably slim to none and for that selfish reason alone I would hope you put these fears aside and continue to keep this site up as you have in the past.
    If you decide to stop writing for your site, I can only hope that you need to work on that book you’ve spoken of and hopefully when you get it finished maybe the same kind of fate that led me to discover your website will allow me to discover your book.

  11. A lot of what I was going to say to you about keeping your site open has already been said. We know its totally your decision and respect whatever you decide to do. But can I just say that every morning when I trudge into work and turn on the light in my shoebox of an office, the first 6 or so websites of the day I regularly visit are blogs and yours is one of them (thanx HJ for linking to it!). Its a rare thing to make me smile that early in the morning but you’ve done it many times over, so for that and your obvious talent of weaving the written word into thought provoking pieces, I’m hoping that you’ll decide the positives outweigh the negatives and continue…

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