Monday, December 13, 2010

On being Faceless

This being my one hundred and first post, I thought I would get something off my chest that has been sitting there for a while.
Anonymity, more specifically, MY anonymity and why I choose to present myself this way.
Over the past several years I have heard many decry the dreaded "faceless bloggers who HIDE behind their anonymity". Every time I hear this, I shudder, but remarkably I hear it quite often from some pretty well respected people, particularly the Doctors and EMS experts that appear on several of the pod casts. I find it hard to believe that those who are so well educated and respected maintain such a narrow point of view.
I understand that in the professional world you need to put your name, face, and reputation behind your work and your words. I get that. Believe me, I would love to go toe to toe with these guys, but I can't because I am anonymous, and therefore do not matter. I am persona non grata. I would give anything to change that, but I can't.
My Department has forbidden ANY and ALL internet activities on the (dreaded and dangerous) Internet that can be associated in any way to the department. Whether you mention the department or not, does not matter, if you put your name on it then it can be traced back to the Department and is therefore prohibited.
We are in a rural area, and everybody knows almost everybody. Your name and face carries the associations you maintain. In addition, our members are forbidden from writing or speaking with the media and in many cases public officials. There have been a lot of cases over the years where loose cannons have done a lot of accidental damage to the agencies.
Obviously I don't agree with the policy and would love to see something more responsible put forward, but try as I might, it's not going to happen. So here I sit, the faceless Captain.
The truth is, I would love to have my name on my work. I would love to be able to participate in some of the pod casts as another voice, but I really can't. Many months ago, one of the fire pod casts was doing a call in on a subject that I have some interest and opinions on. I was chatting away on the chat screen with comments and the host asked if I would call in and participate. I wanted so much to fill in what I felt the conversation lacked, that I called in. I used my rank and first name as an identifier. I also gave my state and a description of the type of services we have here. After the show ended I realized that my comments would be easily identified by anybody who knows me and heard the session. Instead of feeling good about making my points, I had a feeling of dread that I might get 'caught'.
I watch the activity stats on this blog pretty closely. As yet, nobody within 100 miles of my District has found my blog. That doesn't say much for the folks around here and their thirst for knowledge, but it keeps me safe. I also have a very low readership compared to folks like Justin, Marc, Chris, Mick, and those super bloggers. I like it that way.
I want all those people out there who think I am hiding because I am not willing to put my name behind what I write to know that they are wrong. Nothing would make me happier then to take credit for what I do. Coming out would allow me to write about things that matter. I am a Fire Instructor. Don't you think I would like to be able to use my credibility to make my points? Don't you think I would like to be able to put some work up here on the blog and then use it as references during my classes? "Yes, if you want to read more about this, go look at my post from last week." Don't you think I'd like to attend one of these meet-ups that take place? Being anonymous does not mean I can write whatever I want without repercussions. I still parse all material as if I were delivering it locally in a class. It just means that I can't put my reputation behind what I say. In the event that I actually present an idea worth discussion or something of real value, it will have to pass through without proper credit being given to the true writer.
So all I'm asking is that those who think we are 'hiding' would realize that in many cases we are 'trapped', or 'locked' in this closet.
Anybody who wants to disagree with me, correct me, or debate my postings is welcome to do so in the comments section or via email. I welcome the input with an open mind. I wish I could show you who you are talking to, but I can't. That's just the way it is.
Stay safe.


  1. Good post. It's been a transition for me getting on with a fire and ems department and not writing "all about it". I went into this blog as a student and because I had nothing to hide I never remained anonymous, so it's a little hard (impossible) to now. So because of that, I am uber-careful what I write and instead of my blog being anything about work it's entirely personal. Not what I intended when I started it, but the way the cookie crumbles. And loads of people from my area read mine - not sure if that's good or not.

  2. Thanks for the comment, and thanks especially for reading. I enjoy all your posts quite a bit. It's nice to read about how others in the service spend their time and get through their day. I especially envy your dedication to the gym and your training. Something I had no problems doing years ago, but now can't drag myself across the room to do. I am pathetic. You give me inspiration, and hopefully soon, I will uncover the weight bench.
    I look forward to watching your career blossom.
    Be well, have a safe and happy Holiday with your beloved Firefighter,