Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Myth of Anonymous Blogging

The Fall of a Blogger: Doctor A now stands for Doctor Arrogant. You could also call me Doctor Naive. On YouTube and LiveVideo, they call them the haters. Over here I've heard them called bullies. They are nameless and faceless people whose sole purpose in life is to bring people down.

The media's job is to build people up only to tear them down. And, let me tell ya, there are a lot of people out there to help with the latter. You can do what you can to try to fend them off, but they will get to you eventually.

I thought I could stand up to them with a vblog, but the wrath of the haters is just too powerful. I thought I was the smartest kid in the class, but little did I know how many clues I left lying around my blog for people to locate me.

Both friends and enemies have e-mailed me in the last twenty-four hours. All of them have successfully listed my real name, place of employment, medical school, state medical licence number, and my memberships in professional associations.

All of them told me they knew this information BEFORE my first vblog. They were just waiting for the right time to let me know. One e-mail even included a picture of my office building (I think it was taken yesterday).

Let this post serve as a message to all those "anonymous" bloggers out there, particularly medical bloggers. No matter how careful you think you are about your information, there's someone out there who can learn everything about you.

I've never had this happen to me, but this only thing I can think of is the feeling of identity theft when that happens. I'm a very shy person in real life, and my privacy is something that I hold very dear. So, an incident like this has shaken me to the core.

I don't know what I'm going to do. Part of me wants to continue to spite the haters. But, I tried that once, and look where it got me. I'm going to have to do some soul searching while all this emotion works out of my system.

I very much appreciate everyone's support and well wishes during this week (has it only been a week since this has happened?). Unfortunately, it cannot overcome the hate that I've been receiving during this same period of time.

I need some time to think and see if I come back to blogging. Blogging is definitely not fun right now, and is causing MORE stress than work. I don't need that. That being said, I've decided that the Doctor Anonymous blog will be taking a brief hiatus. But, I shall return, maybe....


Rita - Supporting Safer Healthcare said...

I'm sorry to hear that you are getting hate mail, you certainly don't deserve that.

It doesn't matter what your "real" identity is you know, in the blogosphere you are Dr. Anonymous.

And personally, I like what Dr. Anonymous has to say; I hope he keeps blogging.

twilite said...

Hi Dr A! I'm really sorry if you should decide not to blog. It was nice reading that you wrote.

Perhaps you could be a writer or author of some books...

Take care. The peace of God in Christ transcends!

Anonymous said...

Well, I think being anonymous has its benefits. If I find something funny going on during my working day, and post it and everyone knows who I am then there is a potential confidentiality issue. So keep it up.

Cathy said...

Dr. A., I am very sad to read this. What is with these people and "Hate" mail? Has the whole world gone crazy?

I will be looking for an email from you!

The Curmudgeon said...

I watched the video.

I'm truly sorry for your troubles, Doc, and I hope you work through it in the best way for you as soon as possible.

I worry about anonymity too. I've skated too close, from time to time, to revealing details about my life which would make my identity instantly identifiable to anyone who happened on my blog... as long as that person knew me well. And I don't want that to happen. Fortunately, I don't think I know any people in real life who also blog. And I have a "beard" blog -- a public blog in case someone who knows me on the outside should find out I have visited the Blogosphere.

And there are times when it is soooo tempting to come out on the blog and say something completely revelatory. But then my secret would be out.

And you remember what Ben Franklin said about secrets, Doc? "Two people can keep a secret, so long as one of them is dead."

Moderate away, Doc. Don't feel obliged to post this. You were kind enough to visit my little blog many times. I hope you'll come back -- to my blog to visit and to your blog to write.

Good luck.

Nikki Neurotic said...

I really do hope you return. Have you ever heard the expression..."Don't let the bastards grind you down"'s a very fitting quote right about now. With everything there is going to be people who do shit like that, and if you let them get to you it'll just make you sick at heart. Just ignore what if they "know you". From the bit I've read on here you've never written anything that would cause MAJOR problems...and the stuff that could be seen as controversial, well, we live in a country that you are allowed to say things that are on our minds, and you've never crossed the line on radicalism.

I really hope that you don't leave. It's something that you enjoy doing, and to let some people get under your skin and take away something that you like...well, you can't let them get away with that.

If anything, I suppose you can try starting a new blog, you could even set it up so that only "certain" people can read it. People that you know and trust. I don't know if Blogger offers that, but Wordpress does so check it out.

As a fellow "anonymous" blogger, I am sending love and support your way.

Anonymous said...

You have to do what you can to make blogging fit, and if your sense of privacy is invaded by what's happened so far, then by all means, do what's best for you.

I have learned from commentary by other popular bloggers though that with a large stat count comes some celebrity, and people tend to view celebrities as public property instead of people.

Do what you must, and if you come back, I will still come here to read.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh I'm sorry honey. You said it all when you said the following: "I need some time to think and see if I come back to blogging. Blogging is definitely not fun right now, and is causing MORE stress than work. I don't need that."

That is exactly the mindset I've had lately. When I had such stress and anxiety over my blog, including not sleeping for a few nights, I realized that it wasn't worth it. I love to blog, but if I'm worrying about the effect of my blog on my work and my relationships with people at work and in my life, then it isn't worth it. The blog, for me, was created to help fill a void and relieve some anxiety and allow me to get out thoughts I was having that nobody else would ever listen to - but when it gets to the point that I'm actually having more anxiety over it, then it is no longer worth it.

I'm sorry if I contributed to your anxiety and unhappiness over this by knowing who you are and telling you how I knew who you are. I think a post you wrote near the beginning of this blog says a lot because it talks about how sitemeters reveal so much about a person....the location from where they are blogging and so on.

At any rate, I hope you aren't mad at me. Take your time away - I understand, at least, since I'm doing the same thing right now. And don't bother deleting all the posts since they stay on the web forever in the form of google cache... :-/ I wish I knew how to delete them off that!

Hang in there - and let me know if you need anything.


Janet said...

There is no such thing as privacy in our society anymore. When I started my blog I decided to only be semi-anonymous because I did not want to give the bullies a target. Some people see anonymity as a challenge, something to be hacked.

I hope you come back to blogging. Where would we be without BA?
Bastardi non carborundum est.

Fat Doctor said...

How sad.

NB said...

I feel really bad for you. Mean people just suck.

Anonymous said...

I don't quite understand the problem - I didn't watch the video. But it seems to me it's not that big of a deal if some people know who you are. If some people like to show off that they can figure out who you are, more power to them. If they send you hate mail - why??? - just ignore them. They obviously have low enough self worth they feel a need to prove something to the world.

Keep blogging if you enjoy it! Get good email filters and delete the hate mail before you see it!

Anonymous said...

From one who not only was outed, but was stalked, and had professional contacts told that I was nuts and generally the scum of the earth, I know EXACTLY what you are experiencing, and I am so sorry.

If you would like to, you are welcome to come on board my somewhat all purpose healthcare blog. With a change in username, voila! - you can become a brand new you. no need to post this - just email me at univrslhealth at gmail dot com. I'll give you full contact info there.

Anonymous said...

I have been a dedicated rader for several months, but as a non-blogger I've been reluctant to comment much. But now I'm compelled to try & reassure you that people out here want you to continue; that people like me will read your thoughts in whatever form you put them in; that people like me appreciate the effort you put into your blogs and vblogs; & that people like me don't want you to go away. We NEED voices like yours to counter the haters & nasty people. I've enjoyed reading your posts, and the comments you put on other blogs that I read; and I pray that you'll stay around.

What is happening around here -- Doctor Anonymous, Neonatal Doc, Fat Doctor, all having crises the same week. If you all go away, so will I, because you're all on my "must-read" list. Hang in there, stay warm, and GO BUCKS !

Peggy, RN -- a frequent reader & first-time commenter

Anonymous said...

Dr. A ... I was afraid that I would see this post when I came here tonight. I'm really, really saddened ... beyond being able to express it in a comment.

I've begun a post that I hope to have ready by the weekend regarding all of this stuff.

Please - do not become a casualty. Take a break, catch your breath, pick up an asbestos suit ... and keep on blogging. A world of Blogaholics is going to be lost without you ... :o(


Patient Anonymous said...

I am so sorry about this and it really hurts me. I blog about so many intimate things that I need to stay anonymous but there are people out there that could put it all together and know that it's me. I have thought about it and figure that, well, if they find me then let's hope that they have the decency and respect to let me exist in the anonymity that I have chosen. If not, then I will have to deal with that if/when it happens. But it's the choice I made when I started blogging.

I think it's the choice that we all have to make when we start blogging, even every time we make a new post. It's the internet!

I hope you don't go. Hey, you "made" me *wink*

Judy said...

I've always been pretty sure that anyone who knows me well could peg me based on things I've posted.

Fortunately, either nobody who knows me well reads the blog, or they don't care to out me. It would definitely cramp my already wimpy style.

I enjoy reading your blog and I'm sorry you're getting hate mail. I hope you'll find a way to continue to blog.

coaster1robert said...

it's shame you will has been broken,But that's the haters Fault.If your getting threats,that's against the law on the internet.copy all the letter of threats only,right click the properties,in outlook,or outlook express,you need to go into properties look for all IP address,copy and print,take them to local police,they should be able to help,with internet
threats or ( cyber crime). Robert

OHN said...

But Dr. A, you are the leader of our support group for are like our "Bill". You can't desert us!If you don't keep blogging, we will be forced to add 20 more blogs to our blogrolls to make up for our sadness. Can you live with that guilt??

Professional Dreamer said...

I think you should continue to blog, Dr. A. Your page is extremely professional and well written, if you ask me and probably thousands of other people. You have been an inspiration to so many! Plus, like another poster said above, you really are “anonymous” when it comes to the blog-sphere in general. You have a lot of poignant things to say about very interesting topics. If people can’t handle that, then that’s their problem. Look at Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He’s put himself out there on CNN, in a way. He probably gets hate mail all the time! Overall, I don’t think you should be forced to stop doing something you enjoy. You seem to have fun with this blogging, so why stop? You haven’t said anything that would potentially harm anybody. You have fans, man. Just remember that, whether or not you decide to stick around. Wishing you the best of luck, Professional Dreamer... XOXO

Anonymous said...

I'm relatively new to your blog, having happened upon it via the Dinosaur. I haven't read the archives to know what, if any clues you left behind.

I don't see what purpose people have trying to figure out who people are in real life. What does it really matter?

If you were spilling confidential company secrets, yes, I'd expect your company to hunt you down.

If you were holding the key to some secret subversive enterprise, I'd expect the law to seek you out.

But a doctor? What kind of medical secrets are you spilling that would make people want to hunt you down? Nothing earth-shattering, I'm sure.

Some people have nothing better to do, I'm afraid.

Unknown said...

hey doc,

i dont have a lot of time to comment on all of this, but i just wanted to send you some ladybug-love and support.

and to tell you i still have a wicked crush on your voice!!! ;)

hang in there...

Saia said...

Just passing through, hope you dont mind, wanting to make new aquaintances... I'll have to stop back by...

Anonymous said...

Im sorry your going through this. Take care.

Awesome Mom said...

Oh dear well if you do end up starting up somewhere else email me with the new address. I promise to keep your secret safe. I am also going to be a lot more careful about my own identity.

Liana said...

I'm sorry, Dr. A.

Good luck with thinking and making a decision. I would miss your blog if you choose not to continue, but you have to do what's right for you.

jmb said...

Hi there,

Please don't go forever. I enjoy your blog very much and it would be a pity for all of us if you don't "keep on keeping on". Take a break and figure out a way to come back, even if it's with a new identity. I'm sure it's hard to deal with all the hate mail, but you know it's more about them than you.
I wasn't sure why you made the video, obviously more was going on than I could see. Maybe you were outed by your podcasts.
Anyway, take care of yourself and good luck whatever you decide.

Anonymous said...

Coaster1robert is right Dr.A. That's a piece of cake for the authorities. Look at how much love is here for you. We stand by you.

Midwife with a Knife said...

Dr. A, I'm really sorry that you're having such a rough time. You are really a victim of your own success.

I hope you come back to blogging, but I understand how you feel the need to be anonymous.

I worry about anonymity too, and so I fictionalize everything a lot, and I'd never do a videoblog.

I hope you come back soon.

Butterfly said...

Sorry to hear you're getting hate mail. Hate mail is never nice. I just wanted to say I respect you for sticking to your right to be anonymous. That's it really.
The blog shouldn't be making your life trickier than it was to start with. I hope you return to blogging when it seems fun again.

Donna. W said...

I made a comment (which you rejected) on the video entry saying I know of a cop and a hospital worker who got themselves in trouble this way. The cop was reprimanded and made his blog private. The hospital worker lost her job. Happens ALL the time. Sorry it happened to you.

Women on the Verge said...

It's a precarious dance we're forced to do on a tightrope... my husband is active military and I have to be so very careful in what I say on policy issues...

I hope you are able to find your point of balance...

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

well here's the dirt on me doc. i traced you through the site meter early on and googled stuff in your area and tried to find you, but only because that is who i am, naturally curious (translation: nosy) and i found someone i was dead sure was you! i just knew i had it. but it never mattered, it was just fun to do. alas, when i saw your video i was wrong but all that means is i'm not as good as i thought i was.

i am so sorry this has happened to you my friend. i read your blog all the time and have since my first blogging days. i can't even remember how i found you or you found me but i remember hosting the ba meeting when we got to florida in the fall.

i hope this works out so that you can come back, but i know that is a selfish thought. so my friend, i hope whatever YOU want works out.

take care and i will check back often.....

(weak) smiles, bee

Anonymous said...

this is all i have to say: even if you are not a doctor, i don't care. all i care about is that i believe you. so, go ahead and do the thinking, and when the time feels right, come back and have fun again with us.

blogaholics unite!


Stormdrane said...

Keep bloggin, ignore the haters.

It's me, T.J. said...


I get tied up with my schoolwork, drop by to visit, and find a heck of a mess around here.

Sorry for your troubles.

Remember, you're always welcome at my place....

And please, don't be a stranger.


Unknown said...

I'm sorry you've been "exposed"; you were trying to do good things and I, for one, still don't know your true identity. I also don't care and I say that in the nicest way possible. At one time I was "outed" by a co-worker who thought I was blogging on the job. I wasn't, but it didn't matter. She got me in trouble with my boss and I had alot of explaining to do. Fortunately nobody cares about my little blog and I didn't give away any corporate secrets - yadda, yadda.

Blogging is the norm to you and me who do it each day, but to the naysayers and those who can't put two independent thoughts on paper, it's easy for these small minds to become jealous at your popularity.

Pity, really. I hope you don't give up blogging entirely. Perhaps you should have worn a surgical mask on that video.

You can always lie low for awhile, and come back as somebody else. That's the beauty of blogging! Today's celebrity bloggers end up being the newspaper lining your bird's cage tomorrow.

Cheers, tata for now and please come back when the coast is clear!

The Beach Bum said...

I enjoy your blogs and it is one of the very few blogs that I have bookmarked.
Five years ago I received hate mail and a death threat from a reader of my website. I too felt like hanging it all and dumping the site. However, through the encouragement of friends, I persevered and kept the site alive.
There are many hateful individuals out there in cyberspace. The stalkers are the worst.
It's very hard to keep one's anonymity.
I hope that you hang in there.
The Beach Bum

Michael C said...

I am so sorry that something like this happens. Keep on bloggin', I say!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dr. A, I 'm really sad to hear this. I 'm a shy person too that I haven't started blogging till now fearing the anonymous-less thing, so I can really feel your situation. You said exactly the correct word "shaken me to the core". And I totally understand it!!
But receiving hate mails should not stop you by any means, receiving hate mails means that you are an EXISTING SUCCESSFULL person. Keep doing what you want, and note that if you sacrifice it for people's sake, people will keep doing what they want, especially these type of people. Unfortunately this is how life goes nowadays, no one stops doing what he likes for the sake of caring for other people even if he’s just doing a something that will clearly hurt other people!!! Keep blogging Dr. A you are not hurting anyone, and you 're even not revealing any secret info about you, your blog is just discussing interesting topics & sharing it with people. Cheer up Dr. A:) and you’ll always be anonymous to us, you know, I always thought that you’re the one whose picture is there in the main page of your blog until I saw your video :):). GO ahead with your blog for the sake of the many many friends you have :).

Just a reader.

Anonymous said...

Doctor, I sure do feel ya on this one. People can be so very cruel. You must get back on your horse and ride, my friend. I have really been to the point that I deleted one of my favored blogs. It had 25,000+ hits on it. It was a lot off the wall but funny. I did and still do get haters, trolls, downright nasty people, all the time. I then realized that I was allowing them to steal my thunder. When I deleted that blog, I let them win. Don't you give them that,ok?


Anonymous said...

That sucks. Some people derive great pleasure in doing stuff like that, I agree with others in that it is probably a jealousy thing..
I love your blog,Dr. A- and I won't care if you were Hillary Clinton in disguise, I'd still read it.
(as long as it isn't about politics)
Hoping you can work this out-the blogosphere( somewhere) needs you.

Anonymous said...

Please delete this comment.

Anonymous said...

Chin up, Doc. I think the word "Anonymous" in your name just eggs on certain people to solve the mystery, then say "I gotcha." We're all rather thinly disguised on the net, and all I've seen you write should be proudly associated with your identity -- whether true or blogger.

Hope to keep hearing from you.

NeoNurseChic said...

Think of it this way - I know it's twisted but those people who sent you hate mail obviously must care about you enough to send it! I know it doesn't make it any better, but if you weren't popular and interesting and all of those other things that apply to your blog, then nobody would even bother!

Just tryin to get ya to smile...even if it's just a little one.

Carrie :)

frectis said...

OMG, I'm so sorry to read about this! How strange that people have nothing better to do with their time than haunt you. It isn't as if anything you blog about is a threat to anyone that they'd spend the time on it.

I hope you'll be back. From one alleged anonymous blogger to another...


Anonymous said...

Hey Doc,

You know my thoughts on this boil down to this. Fuck em' if they can't take a joke. People will always find a way to become self important by making life uneasy for someone else.

Do what you must but don't let em see you sweat.

I'm sure you'll be back and so will all those who enjoy your blog.


PostalMed said...

I am not quite sure from what information I can glean from a quick perusal of the more recent posts here just exactly what happened to you to prompt hate mail, but as one blogging physician to another, I would encourage you to keep blogging.

Just from looking at some of your posts, it's pretty clear to me that you are what you say you are -- a physician. Only someone in the trenches would be able to write about some of the things you discuss. You know about Grand Rounds, for crying out loud! I just found out about that from the American Medical News a couple of months ago.

Those "individuals" who doubt your qualifications should be invited or encouraged to go elsewhere. As to being concerned about some of your comments being considered mean, well, sometimes that is necessary. My blog (which is more polically oriented than "slice of life" like yours) is mean on purpose, using satire and ridicule to harpoon those sacred cows that need to be killed, or at least deflated a little (or a lot).

Regarding anonymity, I actually started my blog under my real name, only to go anonymous shortly after starting it, thinking that I would feel freer to speak my mind under a pseudonym. Actually, I just thought the pseudonym was catchier. I've never had much of a problem speaking my mind or shouting from a soapbox. The chairman of Netscape is quoted as saying, "There is no privacy anymore -- get over it." Why should cyberspace be any different?

You seem to be a dedicated and knowledgeable physician. Don't let the kibitzers get you down.


Anonymous said...

Hi dr A yours is an intriguing blog I shall have to come back to it ... I found yours by randomblogbutton by the way.
You're welcome to read my heroin addict confessions I'm at I try and tell it as it REALLY is not the sanatized version ... feel free to drop by, take care now


XE said...

I'm so sorry that people are treating you this way. No one deserves that kind of treatment. I hope that everything gets resolved soon.
Xavier Emmanuelle

Anonymous said...

We talked about you on our upcoming podcast My Three Shrinks of the Shrink Rap Blog.
Shrink Rap (with varying degrees of anonymity)

Ben and Bennie said...

Count me in as one of those wanting you stick around the Blogosphere. I wouldn't care if you were that keyboardist for Prince, I'd read your blog because it is good.

I made a choice early on that I couldn't be anonymous on my blog due to my purpose in blogging but I SO respect the privacy of others who choose not to reveal their identities.

I wish you the best and hope you do return soon.

rdl said...

Dr. A. I am so sorry to hear of your troubles!! I hope you can stay with us!!

justanurse said...

I am so sorry your open and trusting nature has been abused by such nasty and unhappy people... peace

Malnurtured Snay said...

Don't let 'em keep you away, Doctor A! Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

Unknown said...

Just a "sorry for your woes" and an "I do hope you can return" comment.

ipanema said...

Oh God! People expect too much from other people. When people use real names, they dig. When they don't, they still dig them up. D**n DIG everyone for all we care!

Sorry this happened Dr. A! Take a breather and come back. There are people who read you. Let the others wag.

Sophia said...

Well doc as they say"The beat goes on"Hey and don't worry be happy!

Mother Jones RN said...

What can I add to all of these comments? Not much. Mean people suck, they always have, and they always will. Keep blogging.


Anonymous said...

Everybody gets hate mail... I'm also disappointed with blogging... Is sad...

Sid Schwab said...

I really can't figure it out. I've gotten some pretty nasty comments, which I've deleted, and it's made me question the whole blogging thing, at times. Strangely, I'm totally non-anonymous (because of cluelessness at the beginning, I suppose), and I was also one of the five on that Fox list. Like you, it caused a big bump in visits for a day or two. Reading about your travails, and having gotten the occasional nasty, I find myself discomforted. But for now, I keeping on; and I'm glad you are, too.

Anonymous said...

Holy Shit, what is wrong with those people! I have no idea what's going on, and having a dialup connection I won't be viewing the vlog.

I just don't understand why someone would want to figure out who you are, and even take a picture of your building (but then I don't understand rape and murder either). But I do understand what you're saying, as I too have been attacked recently and it really did take the fun out of blogging.

Now I'm going to read what you have decided to do.

Extinct and hunted said...

This is a late comment, as I haven't been following your blog because I too needed a break from blogging. I was cyberstalked, threatened and then someone started posting comments on all sorts of blogs that weren't my comments...i.e. they assumed my identity. The hate email and comments after one post about the value of nurse practitioners was obscene in its content. After other problems in my life I decided that it was more trouble than it was worth and deleted the whole blog. However, after a while I missed my blog and decided to start it again.

As some people have said, what is it with people? Don't you think it's sad that they don't have better things to do with their time?
Anyway, I see that you are still blogging, so good for you.

I don't expect you'll see this after such a long time since this post, but in case you do, I thought that I'd add my sympathies.