Absolute Anonymity

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You may have noticed (but probably not) that I’d put a new link amongst my blog recommendations. I suggest that you visit it. But not before you’ve read this post. That would just be rude.

I should probably warn you that the things you encounter on the site might not conform to your standards of taste and dignity. On more than one occasion I’ve been confronted with depictions of the unadorned female form. You will see things that are life-affirming, heartbreaking. This is a place where the depravity and dignity of humanity share a common stage.

The blog in question, of course, is Postsecret. It’s only technically a blog, really. It’s more like a regularly-replaced website. But one mustn’t quibble.

The raison d’etre of Postsecret is to provide a forum through which you can reveal your innermost secrets from behind a wall of anonymity. There’s something amusingly paradoxical about it: things that you wouldn’t tell a single person are paraded in front of the entire globe. Or rather, the small subset thereof who frequent the site.

I spend quite a lot of time listening to people’s secrets. It’s a real privilege. For most people, anonymity is very disinhibiting. Within minutes of meeting a person, I can be hearing about things that their nearest and dearest, who have known them all their lives, would never suspect in a million years. They feel they can tell me, because I’m ‘outside the situation’. I have no emotional investment in it.

In practice, though, my conversations with patients are usually pretty tame. Our agreement of confidentiality isn’t total, you see. There are instances in which I might have to break confidentiality, for example if people are in danger. People are probably wary of taking their discussions into Postsecret territory in case I should feel the need to reach for my Special Button Under The Desk.

A quick look at Postsecret will probably yield a mixed bag. Some confessions are mundane, self-indulgent whining. Others are outrageous, and it is difficult to see how someone could ever share them via the normal channels. It seems that the less chance you have of being found out, the more scandalous the revelations you are prepared to make.

Does Postsecret represent a glimpse of What Goes On Behind Closed Doors? Do we all have secrets like this? Or is it simply an outlet for the deviant few? Does it tell us anything about our society? Probably not. I get a strong whiff of the USA off of it, frankly. And how do we know that it isn’t the same handful of people writing in again and again? And, of course, how do we know if any of these statements are actually true?

It makes you wonder, though. Is there something that you have never divulged about yourself to anyone? If you had the guarantee of total, unconditional anonymity, what would you want to say?

All revelations are to be made via the comments facility. No one will mind if you set up a bogus email address for the purpose. Time to come out with it, I say. Spill your guts.

I am realistic enough to anticipate no response.

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4 Comments on “Absolute Anonymity”

  1. Hannah Says:

    I’ve been trying to think of a secret I have that noone else knows, but I honestly don’t think I have one. I kind of wish I did – I like the idea of being deep and mysterious, but sadly I fear I’m not. I will say that my biggest ‘secret’ (not really a secret, because several people know it but most people don’t) is actually quite a positive thing, but I don’t feel I can publicly ‘fess up because I worry about how ‘fessing up might impact on certain other people that I care about. Even though a large part of me would really rather just ‘spill my guts’. Which would suggest that, if other people think like me, we keep secrets more to protect other people than to protect ourselves. Maybe?

  2. Gavin Says:

    Don’t tell anyone but I bought S Club 7’s Reach For the Stars. I couldn’t help it it was too catchy!! I’m going to have to go and listen to Abbey Road to make up for it.

  3. Ross Says:

    I once killed a man. He totally deserved it

  4. Doug Says:

    Hannah – sounds intriguing! Be consoled: your mystery quotient has gained a notch or two, in my eyes at least.

    Gavin – nice to see you coming out of the shadows. Don’t overdo it, though. That was a pretty whopping admission to kick us off! 🙂

    Ross – your only secret is your propensity to tell whoppers. And now I’ve outed you as the misanthropic cheat that you are. You may redeem yourself at the price of one genuine secret. We’re waiting.


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