Anonymity and Vulnerability
I have waking-nightmares about being seen naked and about being surveilled.
When I started keeping a digital diary in the late nineties, I wrote openly, and I didn’t for a second stop to worry about a teacher or parent finding my journal. Not that I would have really minded so much if they did. I was young and comfortably wrapped in my imperfection.
It’s a cliché, these days, to say that nothing shared online is private. Back then, the space was an ocean, and my urge to put feelings-on-screen just as deep.
As much as I’ve always liked the smell of fresh pages in a paper journal, and loved the idea of writing a diary that was completely private, it was never more than just that—an idea. What I really craved was the audience, even when the audience was silent.
It was like the writing didn’t matter if no one was reading, and I’m clear on what that probably says about my ego.
As the years passed and the online space grew (and closed-in on me), I started sharing less and less and then almost nothing. The posts were still published, the pixels still glittered, but my heart wasn’t in it.
I’m older now, and tied to hundreds of photos, a name, a place, a career and my family. These are all good and beautiful parts of my life, but I’m not sure at what point I got it in my head that I had to give up the writing and the wanting.
I am a constructed by blocks of life that comprise an average woman living an average life making grilled-cheese sandwiches and watching prime-time television.
At some point I became afraid to write. I became afraid to be exposed and I think I even became afraid of facing myself.