This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Long ramble about anonymity

Taking a step from the momentary controversy that bubbled in response to the paypal donations for Lag Liv, I thought I would blog about anonymity since I am (mostly) anonymous. (And I'm sick of outlining today.)

I choose to remain anonymous on this blog for a few reasons. First, I started this blog because I found the blogs of other pregnant law students/law moms to be really helpful and supportive, and I wanted to contribute my experiences to the mix so that other law students that are moms or mom-to-be might take something useful away from it as well. I don't think that publishing my name and what school I go to is necessary to achieve that purpose. I thought it was important to point out that I go to a 2nd Tier School, and that my grades are nothing special. Other than that, who I am personally is rather unimportant to the experiences I have as a pregnant law student, and soon, as a law school mom. I'm sure my personality comes out, most of which is probably sarcastic and self-deprecating, and sometimes what I write might even be startlingly real. But what I publish is still a filtered version of myself and one-sided stories told through my perspective.

Even still, I was surprised at the comfort I got from blogging here, anonymously, about our situation with the CCAM, and how much the support from the other law moms helped. I had started the blog to be a source of information for strangers, and ended up with a virtual support group of my own instead. The internet is an odd world indeed.

However, on the flip side, there are also lots of internet crazies out there. And especially talking about being pregnant, there are internet crazies that go and snatch babies, and even worse, kill pregnant women and snatch babies. I don't feel comfortable being all "hey I'm pregnant and here's my name and address" with no idea who could be reading this blog. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but that's just how I feel. I know the chance of someone killing me and taking my baby is significantly lower than me being hit by a bus while crossing the street, but still, reasonable precautions nonetheless!

Third, I've already had my share of run-ins with internet crazies. I have a personal blog that is private, only friends and family have access to it. The blog used to be public, using my real name and where I go to school, and including pictures of me, my husband and our friends and family. Frankly, I never cared if people want to insult me and flame me. You put yourself out on the internet, and you're going to get hit with some hate, it's the nature of the beast so develop a thick skin. I blogged a lot about politics and other controversial subjects, and got plenty of anonymous comments, some strongly disagreeing, yet never scary or threatening.

But after years of having the blog public, I had to change the URL and made it private thanks to some harassment from the "friends" (more like "crazy internet associates") of someone I know in the real world -- a friend's wife (we'll call her "Crazy"). Crazy also has a blog, and decided to use that blog to rant about a personal problem she had with me, writing a nice long post about what a terrible person I am, how I had no excuse for my behavior, etc., and calling me some very unpleasant names. A nice one-sided story to invoke support from her internet readers to agree what a terrible person I am (and instead of acting like an adult and taking the issue up with me directly and privately, she expected me to read the post, see the error of my ways and beg for her forgiveness). She didn't name me specifically, but it was pretty apparent of whom she was speaking, as she linked to my blog. Then I started getting really nasty, threatening e-mails and comments from all these other crazy people who read her blog. If they'd just been insulting, that would be something different entirely, but the language of some of the messages was rather scary. You'd think I'd murdered puppies or something with the sort of psycho hate messages I was getting, geez. Talk about people who need something better to do with their lives.

I put up with it for awhile (it lasted off and on for a few months), but when Husband and I decided it was time to throw out The Pill and try for a youngin', I moved the blog and made it private. I said officially it was because I was looking for a job and didn't want potential employers looking at my blog and reading my opinions on politics/how much I had to drink last weekend, but I was more concerned about the internet crazies. (If someone doesn't hire me because I'm a liberal, or because I'm not a teetotaler, that's not somewhere I wanted to work anyway.) I thought that in light of the fact I was trying to get pregnant, I should take the threat of internet crazies a little more seriously. And when I started this blog, I definitely didn't want those nutters, or any others, to find me.

Anyway, those are my reasons for not putting myself out in the open. On the other hand, I applaud those who are willing to turn themselves into public figures, such as Kim, because blogging about her experiences wouldn't be the same without actually "getting to know her." She's a source of inspiration to her readers.

Regardless, it isn't that hard to figure out who I am. Also, several of the fellow law moms have access to my e-mail address, and thus, my real name, through the comment thingies on their own blogs. They can google me, find my school, find me on Facebook, and get my whole life story if they're really so inclined. But I don't have a problem with that at all and I always welcome new friends (that aren't crazy... I'm trying to weed out the crazies in my life). There's an element of safety in that these women are my colleagues in the legal profession; soon-to-be, or already are, members of the bar and officers of the court. That doesn't mean lawyers can't be crazy (god knows I've met plenty), but it's the rest of the internet from which I want to remain anonymous.

Even still, anonymity also allows people to write things they probably wouldn't want ascribed to them otherwise. Hateful comments, stupid comments, insensitive comments. I doubt that most of the women sending me psycho messages would have written the same messages if they had to sign their names to them and give me access to their personal information. Granted, there are plenty of people willing to write hateful things and sign their names to it (Crazy, for example), but most people don't. And that really becomes a problem when it's a question of safety.

Anyway, I think the internet communities are interesting, and how involved you can become in the lives of perfect strangers. I'm not usually an emotional person and Lag Liv's ordeal hasn't had me in tears per se. I don't know her personally, I only know this as the story of a stranger. But I find myself imagining myself in the same situation, imagining what she must be feeling, imagining that poor little boy being taken away from his parents, and it does break my heart. In empathy there's powerful imagery. It's why people sob in Holocaust museums, or get teary eyed when hearing stories of 9/11, even if they didn't know anyone personally involved. Because even though there are some pretty shitty people out there, people who take advantage of the kindness of others, people who do harm to others, and people who could help others but don't, I still believe the majority of people are good and compassionate and choose to be the Good Samaritan. I'm sure not much for Bible thumping, but I'm a big believer in helping your neighbor. Fulfilling the spirit of the law, not just the letter. (I think there's a jab at the Federalists in there somewhere, but I'm going to get back to outlining now and just let that one go.)

1 comment:

PT-LawMom said...

The psycho thing is one reason I have comment moderation on my blog. For those hateful comments, I use my 'delete' key liberally. :) I have no desire whatsoever to deal with negativity. I can get that IRL with no problem. My online communities are my support and, when they get nasty I leave (at least temporarily). Who needs that crap?

The MILS rock. I'm glad that we were able to support you during your difficult period with the pregnancy.