Outing Bloggers

08 Dec

I was going to write about something entirely different today but I’m so mad right now that I have to get it out of my system before I do something rash like throw down my laptop and stomp on it.

You might have noticed I don’t blog anonymously. This is a conscious decision and it works for me. I am not a confessional type of blogger and I have no interest in recording my everyday life for anybody’s edification. I have kept a journal off and on for years and I’ve kept it as private as humanly possible, so the last thing I want to do is share any of it for any reason. This does not mean that I have something against people who do the opposite – some of my favorite writers on the internet are anonymous personal bloggers who do me the privilege of sharing the intimate details of their life.

I’m a writer, I’ve spent my time working on memoirs, I know how vulnerable this can make a person feel. But even if you were a complete layman, just try sharing something really private about your life with the next stranger you bump into and see how easy it comes to you.

My guess is, it’ll come just about as easy as it did to me – not at all. Which is why the decision to blog under my own name came after quite a bit of thought. I don’t, for example, share certain things about myself. I don’t go out of my way to hide any information but I don’t voluntarily share anything that might touch on other people’s lives or hand out bits and pieces of my personal information. Chances are you have a pretty good idea of who I am if you’ve been reading this blog for the past year (can you believe it? 2007’s almost over!) and that’s perfectly alright by me. But there are still things that you might not know about me and I’m happy to keep it that way.

Point is, we all keep something of ourselves private. Whether we’re anonymous bloggers or not, every human being on the planet has something he or she deems “too personal to share” and keeps it that way. If you’ve ever studied communication models at school or college then you probably know this is an intrinsic part of human psychology. And the things you put on the private list may not necessarily make it to another person’s list. This too is part of normal human behavior.

So why am I talking about this and why am I so pissed off? I’ll tell you: at least two of my favorite blogs just went on a hiatus / retreated behind a password thanks to dumb ninnies who think it’s great fun to “out” anonymous bloggers.

Now look, I’m the most curious person I know. And I come from a long line of nosy people so that’s saying something. Therefore, I understand the urge to investigate a little deeper, find out things about the people who allow you a window into their lives and thoughts, the inner them, without ever handing out the actual location of the house as it were.

But understanding doesn’t make me feel any better about fuckheads who feel compelled to out people. It’s not funny, it’s not smart, it’s not something anyone with an actual life would do. What it is, is disrespectful. When somebody tells you “Here’s my space and here’re my boundaries”, you bloody well learn to respect them.

These people are not your bitches, they didn’t call and ask you to visit, they didn’t hound you into giving them your custom, you are not doing them a favor by visiting their space, you do not own them or their material – and they’re not making an extraordinary request of you by informing you that they don’t wish to share their identity with you. If the lack of a real world name bothers you so much, don’t visit. Don’t read them, don’t link to them, don’t respond to what they have to say. They’re on the internet, not outside your window serenading you: you can afford to ignore them if you don’t like their content.

They are not asking you to harm yourself or yours, to go out and commit felonies, or jump several tall buildings in one shot. They are not asking you to betray flag and country. In fact, they’re not asking you to put yourself out in the least bit. All they’re asking for is some respect for their choices.

It’s no wonder that the world is full of discrimination – racial, gender, sexual or what have you – if we can’t even respect such things as goddamn internet identities. Not that these ladies were the first or are likely to be the last (example1, example2 and example3). Every so often, we have this little rash of outing that accomplishes little in real world terms but causes endless aggravation to people who don’t deserve it. I could perhaps understand why these women were targeted if they were doing something illegal or occupied positions of power. But no, it’s usually some person who has never learned to argue properly and thus decides outing is the best way to deal with the issue.

I’d also like to point out that all too often, it is women bloggers who’re targeted. I don’t mean to say men are never outed, but there seems to be a world of difference between the two genders when it comes to outing. Do more women blog anonymously? Is that why? Or do women blog more personally and thus make easier targets? What is it?

I hope those of you who participated in the latest bout are real proud of yourselves. You’re a bunch of selfish nincompoops and you can hug your “victory” to yourself tonight, knowing that you’ve just ruined the fun for hundreds of others. Congratulations. I hope your life mirrors your actions. I hope they put cameras in the changing room of your favorite store, your spouse’s infidelity makes front page news and your children think Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are role models.


DesiGirl has a bit of show and tell

Ruhi posts tips on protecting your online identity


Posted by on December 8, 2007 in Life, Personal


31 responses to “Outing Bloggers

  1. ruhi

    December 8, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    I read about this in Broom’s blog yesterday and it has been bothering me ever since. In fact, I was toying with the idea of writing a post on this. After I saw you talking about it, I just knew that I had to do my bit.

  2. Broom

    December 8, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks Amrita. This post made me emotional out of the blue. It’s like it suddenly became clear that I had to stop blogging. It’s like being torn apart from something I love doing. And I really don’t want to. And then all the comments I’ve been getting just make it harder.

    I was watching “Aaja Nachle” & while the movie was on I was making mental notes about what to say about it on the blog & it sucked when I realised there would be no post on it.

    Ok, I’ll leave now before I start blogging in your comment space.

  3. DesiGirl

    December 8, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    hon, what to say but it is a sick place out there – cyberia included. someone has taken up the issue of mommy bloggers putting up pics and video links of their children in YouTube – I used to put stuff of my little boy everywhere. But now, I am questioning myself. This is the first time I am happy that only a handful of people read my blog.

  4. Sujatha

    December 8, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    “They are not asking you to harm yourself or yours, to go out and commit felonies, or jump several tall buildings in one shot. They are not asking you to betray flag and country. In fact, they’re not asking you to put yourself out in the least bit. All they’re asking for is some respect for their choices.”

    That’s the vexing part Ams. This whole episode has taken a thing that so many are passionate about and care about and made it poison.

  5. terri

    December 9, 2007 at 1:18 am

    This whole issue reminds me of grade school jealousy. There’s really no other reason to out someone who’s not threatening national security.

  6. Amrita

    December 9, 2007 at 2:44 am

    Ruhi – look forward to it and wish the occasion didn’t need to arise!

    Broom – I’m so sorry. I hope you find your way back to it at a later date – and I say this not just as a reader but as a fellow blogger who can empathize. I hope you keep visiting though and wish you and TG the best.

    DG – and I know exactly where that bully first got the idea. He couldn’t care less about children’s rights unlike the blogger he lifted the idea from but he does care a lot about shutting other people up. Thus do people with no talent and an outsize ego behave.

    Suj – thought about you too while writing this post. It was another one of the reasons why I got so mad. I’d say that I hope he has kids one day so he realizes what he’s been doing but the thought of that cretin procreating makes me ill.

    Terri – that’s it exactly!

  7. desigirl

    December 9, 2007 at 9:16 am

    The mom in me is horrified at the world and its cretins i have exposed my little man to. if he wanked off looking at kiddie pix, what else is he capable of i wonder.

  8. Aditya

    December 10, 2007 at 4:21 am

    This post reminds me of the outing of Fake Steve Jobs. That caused quite a stir. I put up a post about that a few months ago.

    While I do not blog anonymously either, I completely support one’s right to do so. I see no reason why anyone should attempt to breach someone else’s privacy if they aren’t doing anything unlawful.

    A strongly worded post this one is, and rightly so!

  9. Bombay Addict

    December 10, 2007 at 7:04 am

    This has got to be a new low for the sphere. Horrid.

  10. the mad momma

    December 10, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Amen. I blog anonymously simply because I dont want ppl to think that my personal opinions are reflected in my articles. It was a simple distancing of personal and professional life. I wasn’t exactly writing erotic literature neither was i exposing state secrets. They thought outing me would be fun. Orkutting and googling to find out more….

    I wish the anonymous commenter luck – simply becase he/she seems to be a sad, bitter creature with no life beyond this screen. Someone who thinks they’ve done me grave damage by ‘outing’ me. Fortunately they haven’t really hurt me. They’ve made me pity them.

    Love your post. Love your passion.

  11. Traveller

    December 10, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Pretty shocking, while not completely unexpected since this has happened before (and will happen). The best way to react is to out these sickos too.

    And you are correct, from what I have seen the victims are all women and probably because more women tend to blog about their personal lives. Likewise I am pretty certain the villains here are always all men. (Of course, outing celebrity bloggers such as Fake Steve Jobs are a little different).

  12. Sue

    December 10, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Well written!

  13. dotmom

    December 10, 2007 at 11:12 am

    I have been a reader for a while, but delurking since the post affects me (I was one of the unveiled blogger). As MM says, the trolls simply have no other life than to get cheap thrills like these. They are best ignored.

  14. desigirl

    December 10, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    I wasn’t exactly writing erotic literature neither was i exposing state secrets.
    Funny you should say that, MM!

  15. randomvignettes

    December 10, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    oh first time here…hear hear..rah rah…well said Amrita..I wonder..are’nt there cyber laws to get such assholes and put them where they belong?

  16. Jawahara

    December 10, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Amrita, this was wonderfully written. I have linked to this from my blog. It’s very troubling, and I am reminded of the Kathy Sierra episode as well. TMM, I am so sorry this happened to you, but you do have the right attitude.

    Also…Amrita, you are tagged.

  17. amit

    December 10, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Spitting venom, eh.

    But sadly such things will continue to happen and umpteen number of open letters will do nothing to reverse the trend.

  18. Extempore

    December 10, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    It’s really quite pathetic what some will do satiate a pointless curiosity… it’s not like knowing who the blogger is going to help you in any way. If you’re a vindictive colleague then I guess it’s a different thing but otherwise, how can it possibly serve any purpose?! I I mean, by outing someone you don’t know in the real world, what could you possibly gain? You’re not going to be able to watch them suffer the “fruits” of your stupidity and lack of respect, are you then? I just don’t get it… how can it be so difficult to respect someone’s privacy. There’s usually a reason ppl use handles!

    Great post – I was wondering why there’d been no noise in the blogosphere about this rank ridiculousness. Was going to write but I’m glad you beat me to posting – and I hope you’ll forgive the long comment.

  19. Kiran Manral

    December 10, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Well said indiequill. I too have never blogged anonymously, and I can understand why some people would choose to do so. And I respect that. But to go to such venomous extremes to out bloggers who choose to stay anonymous is beyond me…I am still in a state of shock over the unwarranted viciousness some bloggers have faced. As you said rightly, no one has had a gun held to their head to visit these blogs. If they dont like what they read they can jolly well just move on.

  20. bvn

    December 11, 2007 at 3:08 am

    perversion or simple genetic make up? share your tone!

    when you write a short story what some folks need to know (only know) is who are these people in real life. who is this aunty who sleeps with that uncle. I think its genetic make up. They dont know better 😦

  21. Amrita

    December 11, 2007 at 10:35 am

    DG – I doubt he was actually doing it, but who knows? If he still doesn’t understand what was so wrong about his actions then maybe I’m being too generous.

    Aditya – At least the message sent to Dan Lyons wasn’t to shut up.

    BA – yes, it is

    MM – rock on!

    Traveller – I believe someone has outed one of them. Reap what you sow, etc. The message implicit in so many of these outings of women bloggers seems to be “Shut up”. That’s what really pisses me off. It’s one thing to disagree but another to try and intimidate.

    Sue – thanks.

    Dotmom – And for every troll out there, there are hundreds who feel differently about you 🙂

    RV – not for outing no, but if the guy who made the kid masturbation comment hadn’t taken it down, you could have reported him to his service provider. And he’d have had an unpleasant time of it, trust.

    J – coolbeans 🙂

    Amit – when I get mad, I get mad. Doesn’t happen often 🙂 You’re right that this is likely to happen again. But if it is, then I’d rather not just sit there and take it.

    Extempore – Not at all 🙂 In fact, go ahead and write a post. I’d love to see what you have to say.

    Kiran – it’s funny but the bloggers and their outers are in the same boat w/re to anonymous identities on the internet. I wonder if that’s occurred to them.

    bvn – Lol, get what you mean because I’ve been at the recieving end of that brand of idiocy.

  22. desigirl

    December 11, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    hmmm, considering his response to the fuss kicked by that sentence and it being subsequently taken off by his more sensible partner-in-crime was “the kid will grow up to thank me one day” or some such crap, I don’t think so, Ams. Someone wrote on my blog about why the hell I faithfully highlighted the offensive words if I am so offended. Well, if we hush it up, aren’t we guilty of the same? If we choose to ignore and carry on in the healthy Indian tradition of ‘what biz is it of ours’, then how the hell will we get someone to stop?

  23. birdseyeview

    December 12, 2007 at 8:54 am

    This was really well written. All of us blog for a variety of reasons and it’s our business if we choose to do it anonymously or come out into the open. It really is sad that someone felt compelled to ‘out’ them. I guess the blog world is as full of sickos as the real one – what’s scary ( and ironic)is that perhaps the anonymity of the internet allows the sickos more room…

  24. Amrita

    December 12, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    DG – oh no, I dont have any problems with you highlighting what he said. What strikes me about people like him is that they can see what bugs them about mommy blogs but can’t see the kind of effort and genuine emotion these ladies (and daddy bloggers too) put into their pages. If any of these kids actually grows up and thanks that idiot, then I’d think that kid was the greatest ingrate I ever heard of.

    BEV – that’s it exactly: these people who find such joy in outing other people are themselves anonymous, and unlike the people who’re outed, have nothing positive to offer.

  25. the mad momma

    December 12, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    you know it was a favour. i feel a burden lifted off me… i dont need the damn anonymity. blogging more happily now. but still prefer not to have my name googled up showing my articles as well as blog posts.

  26. Amrita

    December 12, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    MM – I dont blame you. But does your blog come up when you google your name?

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