There Is No Anonymous

Ah, the double edged sword that is anonymity.  It teases you with security and safety only to push you out into the light at the most inopportune of times.   Not all that long ago, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt had the following to say on the topic of privacy while being interviewed on CNBC:

“”If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

With technology where it’s currently at, it is extremely difficult to stay “anonymous” forever.  Everything you do, every place you visit leaves a trail in the form of an IP Address.  Every time you leave a comment on a blog, it captures your IP.  Every time you log into your favorite message board, it captures your IP.

Even if you’re smart enough to use an IP masking tool like this one, you’re still going to have other problems hiding your identity.  You can put the privacy shield on your domain registration, but if you want to have a revenue stream from ads or affiliate programs, you’ll need to give up a physical address and a name for them to mail the check to.  Plus, if you have more than one site hosted on the same IP using a virtual private server you can easily find all the websites hosted on that VPS by doing a couple quick searches.

Now even if you’ve covered all of the above bases, you’re still eventually going to get outed.  How?  Human error.  In my case, it was all about how I write and how I talk.  I’m a huge pop culture junkie and am constantly referencing movies, tv shows, music, etc.  Looking back on some of the discussions I’ve had, there have been those “oops” moments where I used a reference in a discussion that I had used earlier in a blog post.  I distinctly recall at one point talking to a couple of pool players, referencing a certain Mad Max movie and watching in horror as the epiphany struck.

Really the only way to be truly anonymous is to not have any contact at all with your audience which is absolutely no fun at all.  If you can’t go wood shack Unibomber style with your anonymous writing, you best have a solid exit strategy or else you end up scrambling, panicking and making yourself look like a chump.


Posted in Teachable Moments.

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