I am anonymous. I am aware that some people know exactly who I am and that doesn’t particularly bother me. I am also aware that it probably wouldn’t take a particularly highly skilled hacker a lot of time to uncover my identity. But the truth is, I am happier blogging and tweeting anonymously. Why? Because I think it provides me with a smidgen of freedom. Now don’t misunderstand me, I do not consider myself to be an influential underground freedom fighter relentlessly sticking it to the man. There is nothing that I blog or tweet about that I wouldn’t say in person to anyone else, and, as my blog is about me, I have often shared my thoughts with people in the real world before posting them online.
So why, you may ask, do I bother with anonymity?
For the simple reason that it makes my life easier. It frees me from any line blurring. My Twitter timeline isn’t a mixture of my own comments juxtaposed with updates on the school tombola. @theprimaryhead* can ask for help, moan, celebrate, mock, support, and comment on anything, without members of staff, governors or parents explicitly being exposed to it and judging me accordingly. That, believe me, is quite liberating. By being anonymous I have a little bit less accountability too, which, as any Head will tell you, is a blessing. Less accountability, however, does not give me licence to be a pillock. It is unlikely, even when I’m at my most annoyed (and therefore most vulnerable to making a misplaced online comment), that I will broadcast anything so controversial so as to upset anyone who stumbles across it. I understand my real world responsibilities and don’t wish to make someone cry, resign, or, take a law suit out against me so I end up getting sacked.
With regards to my blog, being anonymous allows me to exist within a very comfortable ‘grey area’ between writing as an actual Head and as an aspirational one. I have never lied about my experiences and I do not use the blog to create a fictionalised ‘better’ version of me, but, by committing to ‘blog-print’ my beliefs and values, it helps me stay on the straight and narrow when I’m back in reality and trying to lead a school. I know the leader I want to be and my blog can help me explore that.
One criticism about anonymity online is that others cannot trust your credentials and therefore your words carry with them little or no validity. ‘If you’re so right about everything why don’t you come out into the open and stop hiding? What’s the problem? Worried that people will see you for what you are?’ No. But I’m not writing my blog for them; I’m writing it for me. If my words resonate with people, for whatever reason, then that’s just swell, but them knowing or not knowing who I am does not strengthen or weaken that resonance. You can either choose to believe me or you can choose not to-it’s all the same to me. Who you choose to think I am is not my concern and I am not asking to be anything else than one among a million voices, contributing to the online world of educational debate. I do not need to stand up and be counted, but that doesn’t mean that my anonymous views don’t count for something.
*If you ever hear me talk about myself in the third person again, please unfollow me immediately.