Pseudonymous Blogging Reaches Teenagers
Saturday, June 11, 2011
On a cool morning last week, I was helping my mom choose between pairs of sunglasses at a boutique when I looked down at my phone and saw a series of cryptic texts that immediately made me burst out in inappropriate, silence-breaking laughter. First came a nonsense Gmail address, then a password, and finally—most cryptic of all—the command to log onto a popular blog host with this information. The texts came from one of my best friends, and I ducked outside to call her, mystified by this strange set of instructions.
“Just read the posts,” she (we’ll call her Z) told me. And so I did—as soon as I got back to my computer. That morning, Z had set up an anonymous blog for her, me, and two of our close friends to write about our “summer shenanigans” without fear of discovery or shame.
In short, it’s addictive.
Of course, our “adventures” are tame. Nothing that my friends or I have or would write about could be used to incriminate anyone, and it’s not libelous or offensive. What’s made writing these posts interesting is not the risk factor of the experiences we’ve written about, but rather the tongue-in-cheek shamelessness of the posts.
This isn’t the way most people go about anonymous blogging. Usually, it’s an independent endeavor. And admittedly, most of the anon-blogging population is not high school girls. Nonetheless, those local high schoolers who do it tout it as a gratifying, liberating experience.
“I find it liberating to be so open about my life in such a public forum,” said one. “It’s thrilling: the slight danger of being found out.”
“Anonymous blogging allows for so much freedom, so much independence,” said another. “I'm glad I have that outlet to speak my mind. Even if people judge you, it's okay because those people aren't actually part of your 'real' life—it doesn't have any importance.”
“I love that I can speak my mind on my blog. I can be open and completely truthful with the general public,” said Z.
So what are the real advantages of sneakily posting the details of your most interesting encounters and adventures? The old Alcoholics Anonymous adage of acceptance being one of the steps to recovery might hold true here as well. Teenagers are notorious for being in denial about their problems, and producing a piece of writing allows one the chance to look back at experiences and decisions in a new light.
“It makes me pick out the exciting details in my life to share with the world,” added Z.
But still—why go to the trouble (and risk) of posting it online? Well, it’s a thrill. A cheap thrill, yes, but with some common sense and a healthy dose of caution one can basically ensure protection from discovery. After all, in today’s world, anyone and everyone can blog—so the likelihood of anyone even reading your anonymous Tumblr confessions is pretty low.
As for me, only a couple of people in the “real world” know about our secret blog, and since no one in it is directly referenced by name, location, school, or the like, our identities are well hidden. But still, every time I post some one-sentence tidbit that encapsulates how I’m feeling, I get a rush.
And let’s be honest—there are worse ways to get a thrill or a self-esteem boost.
Said Z, “Honestly, blogging gives me a bit of confidence. I step back and think, 'Wow. Maybe I don't need platinum records and millions of fans to be exciting.'”