I think this anonymity thing is contagious.  I want anonymity in real life, too–I don’t want to know a ton of people at a social gathering, or walking down the halls.  I just want to be left alone.



Filed under Life

9 responses to “anonymity

  1. Andrew


    Well, it’s not really what you meant, but: pay for everything in cash.

    The poor Safeway checkers have to obey a rule that says, “You must greet the customer by name, if you know the person’s name.”

    So if you use your Safeway card, or if you use any sort of payment card, they invariably mangle your name (and by your name I mean my name) in a parting thank you while trying to fulfill this rule.

    Damn annoying. For a while, I tried to forestall them by quickly saying “Thank you” *first* to interrupt them. But you know what? When I shop at Safeway now, which I do less, I always try to just bring cash. I don’t want them to know my purchasing history, and I don’t want them try to say hi to me like I’m their pal.

    I’m not their pal. I’m anonymous. 🙂

  2. Hell, don’t use gmail or other Google services, either, if this is a long-term concern. Or so Cory Doctorow’s most recent story would suggest.

  3. I’ve been thinking that I wish my published writer’s name was different from my therapist name. I feel so constrained by my therapist identity. It feels so free to be Tiv on my blog. I’ve wondered about some in between name, so I could always say at work, oh, yeah, Tiv’s my writer cousin. But I’m also a terrible liar and they would all just say “Sure she is” being mental health professionals and all.

  4. Tea

    I hear you! One of the things I like about Seattle is that nobody knows me.

    The Safeway card thing is funny. I rarely shop there, but when I do I key in my current phone number, which is connected to the account of my old roomate. I get a kick when they call me by her name–thank you, Ms. Peterson!

  5. Steve

    If you want to be left alone, why do you have a blog? Why do you want people to read what you write, what you think, what happens to you? We’re strangers.

    I think you mean you want to *control* your identity, turn on and off the flow of information and impressions about you. But it doesn’t work that way. We don’t have control over that any more than we have control over most of the rest of what goes on in our lives.

    It is very human to want to be anonymous and want to be known intimately at the same time. We want to control who knows us, what they feel about us, think of us. We want people to only know the good things about us, see us at our best. We want people to feel sorry for us when we are feeling like a victim. We want them to be angry with us when we are angry at some injustice. We want them to read our words and be impressed at our thinking. We want them to admire us, think we are smart, worthy of being loved. But we can’t control that, though we try. Companies try that, too, and why blame them for trying?

    I don’t mind the people at Safeway using my name. At least they are trying to be civil in a society that is mostly uncivil these days. That counts for something. I don’t make it into some kind of conspiracy, or mock them for it, either. Companies are just like people — they are a mix of motives and competing ideas buffeting them one way and another. Sometimes I am a jerk, but other times I have more altruistic motives, depending on the day and my mood. Companies aren’t only trying to take people’s money, but have other goals, too. They’re made up of human beings with many conflicting impulses. The people at my Safeway always ask if I want help carrying my bags to the car, too. I never accept it, but I appreciate their offer. They want to seem like they care. And in some ways they do. I’m sure if I needed help, they would give it. We all want to seem like that. We say “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” and “may I help you” and so on, and preface even our business letters with “Dear.”

  6. Well–you don’t know my “real name” do you? In that sense, I’m still anonymous. These days, I just have a tough time socializing in the real world, whether it’s a random encounter on the street or in a bookstore, or attending a party (I avoid parties). I can’t run away there, I can’t log off, I can’t go silent, I can’t reply at my own leisure.

    My friends say they can’t tell a big difference in my demeanor or social capabilities, but I can feel the strain. When did I turn into such an introvert? Not so much–I’m an extrovert (I need people) without the ability to socialize without extreme exhaustion…hence, introvert. I run away when I can myself imploding, which is why my friends can’t see a difference.

    On the net–well…that’s a different thing, starting with writing under a pseudonym. The net is about an amorphous persona–in a sense, I’m narrating my own life, and I’m a character in my own life, too.

    I can see why my desire to “be anonymous” seems in conflict with my blogging. It’s a paradox of sorts.

  7. Eve

    Eerie, how conversations in my house find their way onto people’s blogs. I was just talking with my daughter about blogging pseudonymously (is that a word) and wanting to be real at the same time. It seems a contradiction, yet it’s not. We only have the illusion of intimacy when we blog, because people respond to what we write one at a time. But the actual potential audience is vast, and the potential is what constrains a person.

    I agree with Tiv about how constraining a professional life can be, too.

    And I thought, Steve, that your questions seemed a little hostile. Maybe you didn’t intend them to seem that way?

  8. renaissanceguy

    You make me think of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “I’m Nobody.”

    I’m nobody! Who are you?
    Are you nobody, too?
    Then there’s a pair of us–don’t tell!
    They’d banish us, you know.

    How dreary to be somebody!
    How public, like a frog
    To tell your name the livelong day
    To an admiring bog.

  9. Lamberakis

    Yes, I love being anonymous, too. I vant to be left alone, too. :o) Except for one or two people I can stand…

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