Anonymous Blogging
March 18, 2011 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I'm having a bit of a mild midlife crisis, if my age could be considered "midlife". I think writing via a blog (which I don't care if anyone other than me ever sees or not) might help me work through things. What's the best way to do so "anonymously"?

I haven't done anything other than find myself obsessively thinking about certain things and people from my past, dwelling on decisions made, rooting around in grudges and annoyances and longing to snap back in time to be a person I'm not even sure I could be given the opportunity. It's weird and a little alien and I'd like to live more in the present. I haven't withdrawn from friends and family, it's more that when I lay down at night or find myself daydreaming, it's what I find myself thinking about. Pretty much always. No thoughts of fantastic things in the future or present, but this wistful longing for a past that never existed.

It's not worth it to try and work those out with the people involved, as they're long in the past and the people involved wouldn't be receptive. There's also the fact that this past doesn't really exist. (I hope I know myself well enough to realize I don't actually want to call up Obsession From the Past Who Never Existed As I'm Imagining and make some sort of teary plea; god, no.)

But I think being able to write a bit would help, and a lot of what I want to write might be hurtful to people I care about (confessions of feeling, mild rants, etc.). As far as I know, my partner is not a snoop, but I don't want to keep whatever this thing might be as a local file, even password-protected. Especially password-protected.

I recognize that there is no way to completely hide, if someone is determined enough they might find me. But I don't anticipate an audience and I imagine the words themselves will be tedious to everyone but me. They'll probably be tedious to me as well, come to think of it, but a little tedium might be what I need.

Should I use a free blogging service? My biggest concern outside of privacy would be the possibility of the site going away due to corporate failure or other happenstance. My instinct is my own install of wordpress on my own domain at my own host, but obviously that's the worst possible way to do this from an anonymity standpoint. So, tumblr? bloggr? blogspot?
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'd strongly suggest not using a blog per se, but a service that lets you store a (password-protected) file online - Google Docs, for instance. All the advantages of a private local file, all the not-local-file-ness of keeping it online.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:03 AM on March 18, 2011

I was going to say that this is what a Word file is for, but Tomorrowful also has a good suggestion in using Google Docs so you can access it from anywhere anytime. No need to actually publish it to the world to then try to remain anonymous if the process of writing it out itself is going to be the cathartic part of the exercise not publishing it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:22 AM on March 18, 2011

I imagine you don't want to keep a physical journal out of fear of your partner finding it, so my original thought wouldn't work.

A quick search turned up live journal, so it looks like there are services out there that provide services to create electronic personal journals. Not certain about your "company failure" concern for that though.

Honestly I think google docs is a really good suggestion though.
posted by groovesquirrel at 10:31 AM on March 18, 2011

you could also try, although not quite as private as a Google Doc, is password protected, online, and also gives you nifty analysis of your words to glean some of your thought patterns.
posted by sweetkid at 10:36 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

There a lot of people who are in your same situation. I'm one of them, and I have found writing to be super-helpful. It's easy enough with a blogging service to get your ideas down and have access to them wherever and whenever you want to write. You can make it as private as you wish, but I've found that even writing for a "hypothetical reader" causes me to work through my thoughts a little more. To just take a little more care and put a bit of organization into my thinking and documenting.

I think you are right, that the idea isn't to publicly wallow in the despair and tedium of your personal details and expect (or require) that an audience await with rapt attention. But I would say this; there are a lot of people who are doing exactly what you are wanting to do. And sometimes it does help to write for a reader. There are a lot of people who want to retain strict anonymity yet still have interactions with other writers. With a blogging service you could have readers by invitation only and otherwise have it be completely private in addition to anonymous.

There is also the idea that private things are written and need to remain private, but perhaps not forever private. As we age, our past gets smaller in the rear view mirror and we become wiser realizing that our personally histories are no longer tragedies, but are simply details of a life lived. Truth is: nobody really cares. Except possibly a very few people close to us. Perhaps our children will want to know us intimately as we age, as we eventually become only alive through the stories we left behind. Personally, this is why I write. Not for the present, but for the future. To leave a record in my own words about my life as I experienced it. As it happened from my perspective, for better or worse.

In the future, our children (if they desire) will be able to read every word we have written online. Writing anonymously online gives you a little control over this, a bit of privacy remove, but a complete record you control access to should, at some point in the future, you want them (somebody) to know the you that existed at the time.

Good luck.
posted by nickjadlowe at 10:44 AM on March 18, 2011

I used to use livejournal for this purpose. Eventually I stopped participating in the social aspect and made all my entries private, which worked fine. Making sure to logout every time you're done with it, and not using any remember-me options, will help with security. LJ has been around for a long time. There are programs that can back up all your entries onto your local machine, if you need to take your journal down or if it looks like they might be folding.

The problem with LJ and other blogging/journaling sites is that they're really designed with the whole social aspect in mind. Since I wasn't doing the whole 'friends' thing, and I always wrote at the same computer anyway, it started seeming kind of pointless to use LJ, so I moved it offline. Nowadays I use plain text files stored on an encrypted partition. Although you said that's not an option for you, there are a lot of ways to arrange it so that it's not too much of a hassle and cannot be easily found or cracked. You could use an encrypted thumb drive, for example, and keep it on your keychain.

But do find a solution that works for you, even if it's Google Docs, because it really does sound like writing about these problems will help you. It certainly does for me.
posted by Maximian at 11:35 AM on March 18, 2011

Any blogging platform like Wordpress or Blogger will let you keep either your entire blog or selected posts private. Even if you don't keep posts private - maybe because you'd like to have conversations about what's happening with you - as long as you don't use your real name anywhere and don't mention any personally identifiable info in your posts, it's very unlikely people you know will stumble on your blog.

There's little risk of Wordpress or Blogger disappearing any time soon. and you can export your content out of them if you need to anyway.

But if you do want your own domain, there are services that protect your identity. For example if you register the domain with namecheap, they have a thing called whoisguard, which hides your details from the world, but forwards any communications that arrive re the domain on to you.

Btw... re...

It's not worth it to try and work those out with the people involved, as they're long in the past and the people involved wouldn't be receptive.

You'd be astonished how often people think that and it's completely untrue. Far more often whatever is bugging you was bugging them too, and even if it was not, they will get that it must be important to you for you to bring it up after all this time, and they'll rise to the occasion and be open to the conversation.
posted by philipy at 12:19 PM on March 18, 2011

I went with the blogging route. I have a Wordpress based blog that runs on some free hosting, that I have password protected. The link to it isn't in my favourites. I have a Wordpress plugin that completely hides the blog to those who aren't logged in and I've removed the RSS feed functionality.

Nobody apart from me knows where it is, and nobody is likely to stumble across it because I haven't linked to it anywhere. Even if someone does manage to find it, all they will see is a login screen.

I found using the export functionality in Wordpress useful. It does create a local file, but you could easily upload it to somewhere in a password-protected .zip file.
posted by Solomon at 1:14 PM on March 18, 2011

I'd like to second the recommendation of The metadata about what you write is FASCINATING, and you may find it helpful in analyzing how you really feel and what you're really writing about. At one point a few months ago, it helped me realize I was spinning my wheels on really unhelpful things and being very negative about pretty much everything, which helped me work on consciously changing my thought patterns.

But you don't have to do that--you can just write! It's awesome and free.
posted by smirkette at 2:46 PM on March 18, 2011

I've had several super-private blogs, and it's been very helpful in working things out in my head.

I had a vox account before they folded (livejournal would give you much the same experience), which I opened under a different username from the one I use everywhere else. I've had a WordPress install with the Absolute Privacy plugin. I've also used 750words. Any of those would work, IMHO.

As mentioned, there are hosts that will anonymize your whois info. As long as you're not writing something that you'd get a subpoena about, you should be ok.
posted by epersonae at 5:26 PM on March 18, 2011

I'm in the same boat so to speak. I chose You can lock down your blog so search engines can't find it and password protected so even if someone guessed your blog name ( they would get a screen to log in, which of course they wouldn't be able to do.

So, weird blog name + secure password = pretty safe.

In the end, I opened my blog up to the world. It's under a user name nobody in my family knows. My mom is dead and my dad is a Luddite, so I'm not too worried about them finding it.
posted by kathrynm at 3:47 AM on March 19, 2011

« Older Band of Brothers Recommendations   |   How to make the most of unemployment, or at least... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.