Friday, June 06, 2008

Excuse Me, Are You A Blogger?

I've been giving some thought to the concept of anonymous blogging in the Orthodox Jewish community. We seem to have a number of bloggers who (like myself) hide behind pseudonyms. I've been doing this for three years, and, truth be told, the positions that I purport to hold in real life are exactly the same as the ones I hold on this blog. So why the anonymity? Good question... and I'm not sure I have a valid answer. But that's a discussion for another time.

However, I am (by far) not the only blogger out there who maintains their anonymity. There are lots of people in the Orthodox Jewish community. When I meet someone new (or even hang around people I've known for a long time) I always wonder if secretly they have a blog. I'm almost positive that I've met some of you readers and fellow bloggers in real life and yet, aside from people who have come out and told me who they were (or don't bother to hide their identity in the first place), I have no idea who any of you are. (Well, I have a suspicion that XGH is really a supercomputer in a brain in a jar on a shelf somewhere... but for the rest of you, I have no idea). I could be sitting right next to you in shul on Shabbos, walking with you and your kids to the playground, sitting next to you on the subway, sitting next to you in a shiur... all in complete ignorance.

I'm always curious, however, if people suspect that I'm a blogger. In real life, I'm a fairly quiet guy. I rarely voice opinions. I'm the type of person who works hard at not being noticed. I suppose my blogging is a way to live out a "fantasy" of being well-known... something that I don't necessarily want in real life. I sometimes wonder if I'm really fooling everyone. To my knowledge, very few people have actually figured out who I am. One blogger figured out who I am due to a stupid tech mistake I made about three years ago. Another one figured out who Eeees is. However, if anyone else has figured out who I am, they haven't let me know. No one has tapped me on the shoulder and asked "excuse me, are you a blogger?"

The Wolf

21 comments:

Jewish Atheist said...

I always wonder that too, especially when I meet other former Orthodox Jews. So far, I haven't met any that I know of (and of course I'm pretty open about my blog with others who left) but I did have a blind date once who turned out to have read my blog. That was kinda cool.

Frum Heretic said...

Hirhurim is a non-controversial blog. Except for the R. Slifkin connection, Rabbi Student doesn't need to worry about getting outted like XGH does.

The CameraMan said...

I always think that, also.

I'll be in shul during shalashidis and some guy will come out with some really juicy scandal, or after a kiddush when the shnapps flows a bit too freely and someone runs his mouth off, and I think, which one of you has a blog?

There's a guy in my shteeble whom I'd like to discuss On The Main Line with, because I'm pretty sure he knows it (he's a rare seforim dealer, after all), but I don't want him to admit out loud that he has internet in is house and get his kids kicked out of yeshiva, chas visholem.

Gil Student said...

I never thought you were a blogger until you told me.

I actually don't think that XGH needs to worry about going public, but that's his decision.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

The CameraMan

I'm glad you're interested in my blog.

Why don't you write me sometime? I'd be happy to discuss topics that come up on the Main Line with you!

As for this post, I'm only semi-anon. That is, some people do know who I am. I think enough people know and enough don't, and that's fine with me.

ProfK said...

I know that there are some people who know 100% who I am and some who could put the puzzle pieces together and find out if they were so inclined. I think however that we mostly tend to work with that polite fiction that we are all anonymous. We have politely agreed not to push for full identity.

One reason may be because it takes "real" personality and opinions out of the equation--respond to my words, to what I am saying instead of to whom you think/believe I really am. In that sense we are all actors playing a roll, the script for which we have written.

Undoubtedly there are some who maintain complete anonymity because it is "safer" for them to do so, because being known as a blogger would cause community/school problems.

ProfK said...

Sigh, "playing a role."

PsychoToddler said...

Plausible deniability, my friend. Remember that when your son applies for yeshivos.

The Chainik Hocker said...

I live in Lakewood, Ir Hakodesh. I cannot ever admit to blogging, or having Internet access, or knowing how to read over a 6th grade level.

And Mississippi Fred: Thanks, I will take you up on it.

Woodrow said...

Since I don't live in the Northeastern United States, I definitely don't know any of you.

Holy Hyrax said...

I wonder about this too. In fact, I wonder about a couple of guys in my shul. One of them even has an unhealthy infatuation with hippos.

BrooklynWolf said...

Hippos? How... interesting.

The Wolf

mother in israel said...

I tell everyone about my blog. I told a woman I met at a bar mitzvah. She said her cousin is a blogger too. Her cousin is Gil Student.

ProfK, we think you must have the same hometown as my DH, but he hasn't come up with a plausible theory regarding your identity.

Zach Kessin said...

Hi Wolf, you know who I am, we met last time I was in the US.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

Why, Wolf, I have no idea what you're talking about.... ;)

There are a few people lurking out there who seem to have figured out who I am... and quite disconcertingly, I don't know who they are. Some bloggers know who I am but I also know who they are (vehamayvin yavin), so there's a level field there. Obviously, my blog is about, among other things, dating, so it can be really problematic for a date to know that yu have ablog, or for her friends to read it and tell her, or just for people to know what you've been up to.

Anonymous said...

I have the opposite problem, I can't convince people I really am who I am, they all think I'm Richard Joel in drag (oops, I meant in disguise:-))
KT
Joel Rich (really!)

Lion of Zion said...

i don't understand the people who blog/comment anonymously about communal issues. some of them have great ideas, but at the end of the day i think their persuasion is severely weakened by being anonymous.

"Remember that when your son applies for yeshivos."

then perhaps those particular yeshivos aren't appropriate to begin with.

"or don't bother to hide their identity in the first place"

actually he was anon in the first place

שבוע טוב

Moshe Y. Gluck said...

http://esefer.blogspot.com/2007/04/no-masks.html

Dropping anonymity causes one to be more careful of his (or her) speech, online or off. We are moving towards a less anonymous future, so we may as well embrace it, responsibly. I started as an anonymous blogger, but changed that a few years ago. I have not yet regretted it, although I did come close once...

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

i find talking about blogs in the real world sort of embarrassing. not sure why... i don't find LARP, which is much geeker of a pasttime, nearly as embarassing as blogging.

Michael Koplow said...

I use my real name. Fortunately, nobody finds either me or my blog interesting, so I don't have to talk about it much. Like Steg, I find the whole thing embarrassing.

Many anonymous bloggers abuse their anonymity (the Wolf and M. Fred MacDowell, on the other hand, give anonymity a good name, as do some others). It's contemptible to abuse people using your real name, so I guess those who anonymously abuse others are beneath contempt.

frumsatire said...

I used to be anonymous until I decided I could rant my posts on you tube- now I have people approaching me everywhere and saying "hey your the you tube ranter"- prior to this I always admitted to people I had a blog which opened up the discussion and allowed me to meet other bloggers. You can always say you have a blog and not say which one it is.

I always wanted to make a Jblogger meet up and everyone just kind of meets but no one has to come out and say which blog is theirs. Is this a pipe dream>?