In one of those things that some people will nod along to and others will be confused by, I deleted a bunch of accounts late Monday and locked up the other ones as tightly as I could.
Because someone I work with sent my private email address to someone else. The one that a quick search on any search engine leads to me, directly, with all sorts of things that can get me fired from my job or cut my chances of getting employment.
Specifically, I’m “out” online as being “crazy” [1. I like the term crazy. I embrace the term crazy. I tend not to use it too much online because I know that others don’t like it at all. But I’m crazy, and I’m okay with that.]. I’ve spent most of the past year blogging about having a mental health condition – one that I’ve referred to as being considered “dangerous” to have someone with around.
I’ve tried to be really careful about separating work-online identities. “Anna” is not the name on my ID, and it is not what anyone I work with calls me. Googling my government-ID name and my work-related email address gets you either people who obviously aren’t me, or an unused account on one of the “sort your books” sites. But googling my email address, my private one, leads you here. Or to my now-locked journal. Or to my now-deleted tumblr account.
This is one of the reasons why I get angry when people talk dismissively of those who choose to use pseudonyms online. “Oh,” comes the dismissive sniff. “You’re not willing to stand up behind what you’ve said.” Or “If you really believed that, you’d say it behind your ‘real’ name.”
Women like me – and so many other women and men with “hidden” disabilities, women and men who are trans*, people who are non-gender binary, who are bi or lesbian or gay, people who write about their struggles with racism or sexism or homophobia or bullying at work, people who are otherwise marginalized – risk losing their jobs, having their children taken away from them, risk being attacked in their homes or at work, having their children threatened, just for writing about their lives online.
There are all sorts of reasons people are pseudonymous on the internet. This one was mine. It’s not hard to find people with different, but equally pressing – and even more pressing – reasons for being pseudonymous.
I’m hoping I’ve been overly cautious. I’m hoping this person – who spent Monday sending me threatening emails to my work account – doesn’t notice he now has my private email address. I’m hoping that I look silly and stupid in a couple of weeks when nothing comes of this.
But I can’t count on it.
If you don’t see me posting much for a while, now you know why.
Note: Any comments on this post are going to be slow to moderate. I won’t be publishing anything that attacks the person I work with, though, since that person is both not here to defend against such comments, and because I do believe it was one of those things where someone did something thoughtless, rather than deliberately malicious. The results are still the same, though.