Anonymity and Privacy in a Digital World

Anonymity is something I kind of struggle with.   I write about my life in a public forum, this blog.  Although, I pretty much assume that most of the people that read this here blog probably know me personally.  We’ve met, at the very least.  Maybe there’s one or two people here who read my blog because I read there blog, etc.

Yet, there really is no telling who else might be reading.  It is for this reason that I use a pseudonym.   I hope you realize that Who isn’t really my last name.   Not only do I have a nickname for myself, but I also give them to the people in my life who I write about.  It’s very important to me that I’m not treading on their privacy.   In fact, there’s some people who I write about who may not even realize that they’re being written about.  Or they may not have caught on to the fact that “Character X” in my blog is them.  I think if you walked up to Darby and called him by that name, he’d probably look at you like you were nuts.  And then, if you told him that you figured out who he was from reading my blog, he would have no idea where I came up with ‘Darby’, and by the way, I’m not telling.

The one exception, to this rule, because there’s always an exception, is those people in my life who have a public life.   For example, the various members of Monkey are called by their actual names.   However, there is an exception to the exception (oh brother), which is that when they’re not performing, and I’m writing something about them that does not involve their performances and gigs, then I have a pseudonym for them.   

I’m sure you can imagine how complicated this could become.  Of course, I had to go and make it more complicated.

As I’ve written, I’m in a band myself now.   I now will have a public life, and I will perform.   It’s time for me to decide whether I want to continue to write under my pseudonym, or whether I want to enter into a public sphere with my blog.    I feel like, if I mention the name of my band in the blog, it’s only a matter of time before people search out info on the band, and then the public will know just who PeggyLuWho really is.   And won’t that then compromise Darby, Mama Bear, Creeper, and the rest?

For the time being, I’m stalling.   All you need to know is, I’m PeggyLuWho.   I’m in a band.  Which band?  Well, that’s nunya!  

And I’m still listening to my BBD station on Pandora.

4 Responses to “Anonymity and Privacy in a Digital World”


  1. 1 Avi June 20, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Just so you readers know, when Peggy refers to “megatron”, “stud”, “best kisser ever”, or “the best person ever”, she is talking about me.

  2. 2 peggyluwho June 20, 2008 at 3:08 am

    Um, yeah, that goes without saying.

  3. 3 Hal Niedzviecki June 20, 2008 at 6:37 am

    hi peggy, hal n. here. i’ve been working on a book project about different ways people approach putting their lives into the public sphere. the book will eventually be called the Peep Diaries: how we learned to love watching ourselves and our neighbors, published in spring 2009 by your very own City Lights Books in SF. anyway, what i’ve found is that there are no rules – everyone has to make up their own mind about what they are willing to reveal about themselves and those around them. but where people get into trouble is when they forget that there are readers out there who see them as a character, not a person. don’t forget that and you’ll be fine whatever decision you make. check out my blog at http://www.peephal.com/blog

  4. 4 peggyluwho June 20, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Hi Hal,

    That sounds like a very interesting project. I have in the past run into this problem with people not being able to realize the difference between the character/author and the person I am. I am pretty candid on here, but at the same time, it is edited, and I don’t really paint a whole picture of myself. I just write about stuff that I feel like I say something interesting or amusing about. I met someone after they had read my blog, and a few weeks into the friendship, they were complaining, because I wasn’t acting how they thought I would act from reading my blog.

    The whole thing is pretty weird, and should be put under a microscope.


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