the new me

A post by untreatable, Why I am Untreatableonline, has pushed me to do somethings I’ve been thinking about doing, and probably should have done from beginning. I need to be more cautious concerning my anonymity. The primary reason is that I can’t “get better at someone else’s expense”. While I’ll try and never publish anything that is untrue, other people’s reputations could conceivably be affected by what I write, as could their feelings. Additionally, there’s still a tremendous amount of prejudice against the mentally ill. (I hate the term “mentally ill”. From it I infer that the mind is somehow separate from the body, and of course it isn’t. At present I have no substitute to offer so I’ll have to use it, albeit sparingly.) Being cavalier about who I am and what I’ve done could come back to haunt me. I have enough problems without that.

Perhaps as important, I’d like to be more forthright about parts of my past, and that could be problematic since I’m not independent. I think my motivation is pure here. My experience could possibly help someone, but not if I don’t put it out there. I haven’t and wouldn’t use people’s real names here, unless it’s something that’s already published or widely known. But I do think I need to make some minor changes. My nickname is too similar to my real name. My animals names aren’t disguised. Their pictures are a dead give-away. Someone might somehow recognize my photo, even though I’ve altered it considerably. Nothing drastic, but you’ll probably notice, if nothing else the handle. I haven’t come up with a new name yet, but Rob N. is on borrowed time.

I could never say it better than untreatable did:

For the readers out there who have been debating whether or not to start their own blog regarding mental illness I would say go for it but really consider the fallout when it comes to using your real name. There is a sort of freedom knowing that a lot of people know your story but none of them would be able to pick you out of a crowd in the “real” world. The goal is to lift the veil off of mental health but not to become the poster boy in the process.

That’s good stuff. While anyone technically savvy or with a little extra money could find out who anyone online really is, there’s no sense making it especially easy.

UPDATE: I’m now Prester John. If only things were so easy in the real world.


8 Responses to “the new me”

  1. 1 experimental chimp March 7, 2008 at 11:01 am

    The level of anonymity you choose online is a matter of the level of paranoia you put into the task. This identity (experimental chimp) is as anonymous as possible, without being truly paranoid. I set it up specifically for my blog, using an anonymous email account with google. I use pseudonyms for all the real people I mention on my blog. The nearest I’ve got to revealing my location is “a big city in the North of England”.

    That’s a fairly good level of anonymity. Someone who knew me well, who read my blog could work out who I was, but the chance of them finding me in the first place is fairly remote. If someone really wanted to trace who I was, they’d have to take legal action against my ISP to get my details. It’s not impossible to find out who I am, but it’s pretty damn hard.

    But it’s certainly possible to be more paranoid than I am. You could use an anonymising proxy like TOR and Privoxy. This would make it almost impossible for anyone to trace posts back to you. TOR’s designed to be used by dissidents in repressive regimes, so it’s good enough to stand up to both money and technical expertise. It’s almost certainly overkill for this kind of thing, though.

  2. 2 Prester John March 7, 2008 at 11:12 am

    experimental chimp – Makes sense to me. You have a lot of useful information and I appreciate your sharing it.

  3. 3 patientanonymous March 7, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I blog anonymously for a lot of reasons. Some of which I won’t even mention here–it would defeat the purpose of me being anonymous!

    But for anyone out there that is familiar with my blog, I am really open about a lot of things in my personal life. I also blog about others in my personal life. However, confidentiality rises above all else so no one would really know who they are–unless those people read the blog. And none of them do. I’ve given the the url to them. I guess either they just don’t seem interested or they are too busy or…well, I have no clue!

    I find your comment about not liking the term “mental illness” interesting. I am actually the exact opposite. I’m a real stigma buster and as a result, I am all about letting people know that these diagnoses that we carry are in fact illnesses! They are not “character flaws” (like I mentioned in the comment section to you and the others re: addition.) They are not all of these other things that people have preconceived notions or prejudices about!

    I also don’t have a problem with the term “mental health.” The only …well, perhaps, drawback with that one is by using it over and over…at times we really aren’t all that “healthy.” I think by being as honest as I have tried to be in portraying that, it gives people a pretty good idea of what we have to deal with. And yet, I try to also show people that may not understand these things so well that we are not super freaky or scary monsters!

    And no, as “untreatable” said I’m not trying to be the “poster girl” or anything like that. OMG, no! However, it sure feels good when I get comments from people saying that my blog has done something…well, I don’t know decent? One was from a woman that said it really helped her understand what her friend who has Bipolar goes through better. That one really meant a lot to me.

  4. 4 Prester John March 7, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    patientanonymous – I just don’t like the term “mental illness”, not so much because of negative connotations, although there are plenty of those, but because as I see it, it’s inaccurate. I tend to think that mental illness centers in the mind and that the mind is a product of the body – primarily the brain. I just makes me think of the whole ghost in the machine thing. We’re sick in the same sense a diabetic or cancer victim is. There’s something wrong with our bodies, and usually our brains in particular.

    No, I’d like to be an advocate as well. God knows they will ignore us if there’s any possible way to get away with it, at least in this country. (I’m in the US.)

  5. 5 lydiacharlotte March 7, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I was just writing about anonymity. I just started my blog, and at first I didn’t tell anyone. Now I’ve given the link to lots of people who know me, and one of them just asked if she can pass it on – no names, of course!

    I don’t mind having my name used and being known. I think that the internet is probably the same as “press, radio and films.” So if I’m anonymous to unknown readers, but people who actually know me know that it’s me writing this, I don’t find that to be a problem. I’m not writing anything I wouldn’t say. Good point about keeping the anonymity of others, though, as well as the privacy of their personal details.

  6. 6 Ned March 8, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I never liked being named Ned, but a friend told me once that it made a good icon. In the world of self-branding (sounds painful), I imagine it’s good to be memorable.

    In using my name though, I did change what I’m writing about… not so pesonal. So I can understand why you’d want to keep some anonimity.

    Congrads on the increased traffic. You deserve it. You know you’re on my feed list :D

  7. 7 Maia March 8, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    This is something that I thought about carefully before beginning my blog. (If you look at it you’ll get it.) I write about my whole family, and I talked to all of them before I started writing. My older siblings and parents read the blog and often tell me things I should write about, but no one else we know reads it. Well, the therapist of my younger sibs reads it sometimes. But no one else that we know. So far. I’m trying to be more open and honest about my mental illness (don’t like that term either) and my history of abuse but it is REALLY difficult. I take comfort in the fact that I can just delete the blog if it becomes a problem.

    If you think that my blog is something you might like to read, feel free to link me. Thanks for writing!

  8. 8 Prester John March 9, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Maia – Glad you stopped over. I’ll be paying you a visit soon.

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