Showing posts with label anonymity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anonymity. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Blogging your way through divorce

If you look up information about divorce, sooner or later you are going to run across people blogging about their divorce. This isn't a lawyer giving professional advice; this is a divorced or divorcing individual writing about their personal experiences. While not a professional viewpoint, it does offer interesting insights into both the mechanics of getting a divorce and the emotional side of such a traumatic upheaval in one's life.

I think of "Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce" by Molly Monet as one lady who went through it all back in 2007 and now writes about the process, what happened, and how post-divorce life is shaping up while sharing the raising of two children with her ex. I can't help thinking that this woman managed to retain a certain level-headedness throughout her ordeal and has come out on the other side a well-balanced and adjusted individual. Plus she has an ex with whom she's managed to create a new relationship that is not at all acrimonious and beneficial for all parties involved including both children and parents.

On the other hand, the posting "The Divorce Photo" by Marcelle Soviero paints a bleak view of a break-up that leaves the protagonists with little contact. There are 3 children involved and there is a sharing agreement entailing regular communication but the author points out she only exchanges email with her ex-husband. Seeing him is a rarity and in this article she talks about a chance encounter at Starbucks nine years after the divorce even though the two of them live only 5 miles apart. It seems that seeing him is unwelcome in the sense of what to do, what to talk about after legal proceedings left her in "financial ruins". She mentions their nondescript conversation where they opted to "stay inside safe words, afraid to trigger any of our hot issues."

In the middle of it
The above two examples are people who have come out the other side. One seems to have reconciled what happened and found some sort of peace while the other indicates unresolved issues. Nevertheless, these people have been through their divorces and are now years down the road. What about those who are currently in a divorce; who are smack dab in the middle of it?

Fake It 'Til You Make It by Rebecca Sarwate - Apr 6/2011
I am a week away from embarking on a life of complete solitude, I have been coping well. I show up to work everyday and give it my full effort, despite a disorienting case of physical and emotional exhaustion. I stay engaged with friends and colleagues. I bathe. I sleep. I breathe. For those of you who have gone through a marital dissolution, just accomplishing everyday tasks is a triumph.

The one thing that has completely fallen by the wayside is the ability to eat and drink. The glass of wine I wolf down to calm my nerves before Eddie and I confront each other for the first time every evening doesn't count. We have nothing left to say, but the sight of his person walking through the door each night, casually humming as if the world isn't ending, gives me the vapors. But the concept of actual nourishment is beyond me. I experience fleeting pangs that tell me it's time to fuel up, but more often than not, I end up staring blankly at my plate and glass of water, like I do most other stimuli.

Finding Forty, Day 311; Why? by Kate - Apr 9/2011
For a while now I've been thinking of a particular subject for this next blog. It was going to be about the perks of living alone, like eating Baked Cheetos at midnight in bed, never having to do laundry, or being able to talk OUT LOUD to yourself and not worry if anyone hears you.

But the more I thought about those things, which truly can be great in the moment, the more I realized they don't make me as happy as I thought they would.
...
I want a hand to hold. A body next to me in bed. Someone to share the newspaper with on Sunday morning. I want to bicker about what we watch on t.v. and what we want for dinner. I want to look at him from across the soccer field as he leans over and whispers into our son's ear and know he's mine.

You're getting a divorce. You're in the process of getting a divorce. It's seems surreal. Is this really happening? Could it be a dream or is it actually a nightmare?

The Risks of Blogging About Your Divorce
In the blog "Perils of Divorced Pauline", the author is divorced, remarried and about to enter into the custody battle royal of her life. She posts in About:
I am a survivor of a world-class gnarly divorce. My ex-husband is suing me for full custody of my son, and more time with my daughter. He’s super-rich and I’m super-not. You get the picture.

In case you were wondering, his name isn’t really Prince Machiavelli and my name isn’t really Pauline. All of the names and identifiable elements in this blog have been changed. The last thing I need is to give my ex more incentive to sue me for money that I don’t have. He’s like that.

This is an interesting situation. Pauline wants to blog and share with us but admits if her ex-husband found out, this would not be a good thing. Consequently, she blogs anonymously. Hmmm, and just what risk is she running here?

The Risks
Here's the scenario: you are in the middle of negotiating a divorce. Is blogging a good idea or a bad idea? While divulging your inner most secrets may be therapeutic, is there a risk to the negotiation process if opposing counsel, as it were, read your blog and found out those inner most secrets?

The Bitter Divorcée by Annie Parker
On her About, Ms. Parker tells us a little about herself and her blog:
In February of 2010, I started this blog and began calling Ex out as a deadbeat and a no show on the internet. He discovered my work in March and sent me a nasty note demanding that I label it as fiction or take it down. I have done neither and since that time, he has been an even bigger pain in my rump. He petitioned to reduce his financial obligation to the children to $40 per month, (presumably so he could no longer be called a deadbeat—$40 a month would certainly be affordable). He demanded to see the children on his non-negotiable terms. He tried to put me in jail. He called the police to our home on Christmas Day.

I'm not asking this question as a criticism, I'm merely curious about the outcome. What would have happened if Ms. Parker did not blog? What would have her husband done? Was part of his motivation for what he did or attempted to do based on anger over what he had read in the blog?

Then again, do we say that the benefits outweigh the dangers? Ms. Parker says on her About: This blog has been transformative for me. The support and friendships that have come through this endeavor have been sustaining and the authenticity and intimacy it has brought to my everyday life has been absolutely amazing.

Final Word
In the examples mentioned above, I find Molly Monet, Marcelle Soviero, and Annie Parker are blogging after their divorces and would guess that their blogging did not affect those events. Their blogging may be affecting their current situations but is this good or bad?

Both Rebecca Sarwate and Kate are blogging real-time, while in the midst of the entire process including talking about, separating, and eventually, I imagine, doing the legal stuff and signing the final documents. How does blogging help them? Then again, what risks do they run if their partner or somebody associated with their partner discovered this information? Would it affect the negotiations?

I see that while no-fault divorce may take the why off the table, it doesn't necessarily remove the how. When I say "how", I'm talking about the settlement and as of this writing, I'm not sure there is a formula which spells out in black and white just what a settlement should be meaning there's nothing else to negotiate, that's it, everybody go home now. It would seem that negotiation is still very much a part of the process. Blogging may be therapeutic for the individual, but could that also get the person into trouble?

The pros and cons. The pros: get it off your chest, get some feedback, develop a support network as if this is an online version of a self-help group. - Annie Parker sells a t-shirt that says, "Blogging: It's cheaper than therapy." - The (potential) cons: your spouse reads it; your spouse's lawyer reads it; your family reads it; your friends read it; and/or your co-workers read it. Of course, if you're doing this anonymously, there's nothing to worry about. Yes? Right? Hello?


References

Penelope Trunk: Advice at the intersection of work and life
Divorce and Dating
This is the story of my divorce, and my ensuing endeavors in dating life.

Wikipedia: No-fault divorce
No-fault divorce is a divorce in which the dissolution of a marriage requires neither a showing of wrong-doing of either party nor any evidentiary proceedings at all. Laws providing for no-fault divorce allow a family court to grant a divorce in response to a petition by either party to the marriage, without requiring the petitioner to provide evidence that the respondent has committed a breach of the marital contract. Laws providing for no-fault divorce also limit the potential legal defenses of a respondent who would prefer to remain married. There is no mediation involved.

Google search: blogging your way through divorce

my blog: Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce

my blog: Perils of Divorced Pauline

my blog: The Bitter Divorcée

2011-04-13

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Monday, 27 September 2010

Anonymity: The power to speak freely

William Quincy Belle is not my real name; it is a pseudonym. When I first decided to join the ranks of those espousing their personal view of the world, publishing their stream of consciousness and divulging the intimate thoughts of their innermost selves, I felt a certain degree of reticence about revealing myself to the outside world.

Anonymity does bring a different aspect to blogging. There are no rules; there are no restrictions. You can say anything you want. Nobody is overseeing your choice of topics; nobody is editing your prose or your approach in dealing with your chosen topic. Freedom and total liberty are the principal attributes of being anonymous. Yes, you can choose to get feedback in the form of comments but you do have the option of moderating comments and you also have the ultimate authority in deleting any comment which just doesn't strike your fancy. You have complete power; you are lord and master (lady and mistress?) of your domain.

Ah, but with freedom comes responsibility. Freedom to utter your innermost secrets may also be your ticket to boring the heck out of people. Do you really have something important or interesting to say? Just because it's an innermost secret doesn't necessarily mean you've got something profound to share which will captivate your potential audience and leave them wanting more.

On the other hand, and here's where I see the importance of anonymity, your freedom to say anything is your opportunity to not worry about all the normal restrictions we contend with in regular life. Whether we like it or not; whether we admit it or not, our actions, our words and even our thoughts are very much affected if not controlled by our surroundings. Our family, our friends, our colleagues, all these people play a part in determining what may or may not be acceptable to them and hence to us. Add on top of that society in general like the laws of the land and the morality of religion and you end up with quite a long list of influences both good and bad which will certainly affect how you behave.

I wrote an article entitled Sex: Men are from Mars during which I spoke of masturbation. Hmmm, now is that a topic of conversation I'd consider bringing up around the water cooler at my place of employment? Am I going to talk about that with my neighbours or even my kids? Ha! Maybe, as a good parent dealing with sex education, I should have talked about it with my kids!

Nevertheless, my point is that any of us would probably think twice of discussing such a topic and we would certainly think it over three times as with whom we would discuss this. Society, our "real life" sets up numerous impediments to talking about certain topics like personal feelings, emotions, and relationships and of course, sex.

Why? Well, it strikes me as rather obvious. We do something; we get a negative reaction; we don't do that again. We do something; we get a positive reaction; we repeat the action. Seems somewhat Pavlovian; a sort of trial and error system whereby we determine what we can and can't do. [chuckles] I imagine that a great deal of all this is learned as a child with our parents; then comes school with teachers and classmates.

So, let's return to this idea of anonymity. Ha! I think of one of those cinematic moments where somebody enters the confessional in a Catholic church to absolve themselves of their sins. The main idea here is that you have, to a certain extent, anonymity. Maybe not anonymity from the priest although it is supposed that the priest does not necessarily know you, but you have anonymity from the community at large. Your friends and neighbours even your own family are going to be unaware of what you've confessed to. Ah, the liberation of being able to divest yourself of whatever troubles you without the worry of criticism, censure or even banishment. Confession is good for the soul. - [chuckles] Even good for Tony Soprano if I think back to the HBO television series. Excellent series by the way; catch it in reruns or get the DVDs.

But not all of us are Catholic. Growing up Protestant, I do not remember there being a similar ritual in the church and off the top of my head I cannot speak of other religions; such a system of confession is unknown to me. Other than religion, there are professional services like psychologists, therapists or some sort of support group so in some way, albeit complicated to find or get involved with, there may be an outlet away from family and friends, an outlet somewhat anonymous where one may discuss topics that normally one would not want to discuss with family and friends.

My nom de plume
When I was in school way back when the Earth was cooling, in the early 60's, the teacher gave us an assignment to write a short story. At that time, James Bond had hit the mainstream with first the movie Dr. No then From Russia With Love. I ate it up like any pubescent boy discovering girls, manliness and the idea of being an adult by devouring every book ever penned by Ian Fleming. As a consequence, my choice of topic for a short story was a spy story similar to James Bond featuring a spy I elected to call William Belle. I had never forgotten the name and when considering a nom de plume for my blog, I naturally said why not use this name. Just before starting the blog, I researched the name William Belle and discovered a number of people with this name so I further distinguished it by adding Quincy.

Other aspects
In perusing information about anonymity, I can see all sorts of angles to the issue. It can be a good thing as it allows us to talk of things we would normally be reticent to bring up. It can be a bad thing as it allows people to say or possibly do things, bad things, for which they cannot or will not be held accountable. Obviously, as with just about anything, anonymity has its pros and cons.

The issue I did want to bring up, the real issue about anonymity and me choosing to write using a false name is that anonymity provides a certain freedom, real or perceived, to discuss matters very subjective and personal that the real world may frown on. It's interesting to note the level of apprehension if not outright fear any of us may have in discussing certain ideas. If I was in China, I would be afraid of criticizing the government. At work, I'm afraid of criticizing my boss. With family and friends, I am afraid to discuss personal issues whether it be my own quest for the meaning of my life, what possibly have I managed accomplish of any worth during my oh so brief time on this planet and my relationships, my marriage and sex.

China
Fortunately, I live in Canada, not China. We have freedom of speech here which does permit me pretty much total liberty to say what I want. Of course, our society may put certain limits on such freedom: no promotion of hatred, nothing related child porn, etc. but for the most part, I am free to say what I want. Ha! Imagine trying to criticize our Prime Minister Stephen Harper in China. You'd be jailed!

See my blog entry Freedom of Speech: Freedom to say "anything"? to see some of the bad aspects of such total freedom.

Work
I picture this as the quintessential example of everyday social interactions. It certainly is here that we can observe and participate in what anybody would call "the norm" of behaviour. Yes, here we are very much influenced by what others think; especially if that person may be one's boss. We are probably very, very careful to stay in the middle of the road out of fear of being ostracized or even fired. Ah, the influence one has when one has the power to send somebody packing!

Family and Friends
While this social circle is arguable closer than the previous group, there are still rules of etiquette with taboos and censure for those things which may fall outside the realm of the norm. With friends, you may say more than at work; after all your friends do not have the power to fire you. Of course, they have the power to ostracize you and that is quite the power to wield. Nobody likes not being part of the "group".

Family is slightly different; hopefully a little more intimate but then again, a question for all of us: Just how open and honest are you with your spouse? Still have secrets you are leery to divulge to your partner in life?

Dishonest?
Am I being dishonest? Maybe, but at least you can't firebomb my house; you can't turn me in to the authorities and you can't tell my boss about me. Although my wife knows about this blog and reads it periodically.

Let's just say that I have given myself a liberty of expression that "real life" prevents me from having. One could argue that any impediments to the freedom of speech I may be feeling are more imaginary than real but while I think my article about masturbation is true, pertinent to the human condition and hopefully a tad humorous, I'm not sure I am ready for others, family other than my wife, my neighbours and my colleagues at work, to be made aware of my thoughts about a subject which remains pretty much taboo in our society. For that, I remain as embarrassed and uncomfortable as the next guy. But behind my nom de plume, I can speak freely!


References

Wikipedia: Anonymity
Anonymity is derived from the Greek word ἀνωνυμία, anonymia, meaning "without a name" or "namelessness". In colloquial use, anonymity typically refers to the state of an individual's personal identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown.

Wikipedia: Pseudonymity
Pseudonymity, a word derived from pseudonym, meaning 'false name', is a state of disguised identity. The pseudonym identifies a holder, that is, one or more human beings who possess but do not disclose their true names (that is, legal identities). Most pseudonym holders use pseudonyms because they wish to remain anonymous, but anonymity is difficult to achieve, and is often fraught with legal issues. True anonymity requires unlinkability, such that an attacker's examination of the pseudonym holder's message provides no new information about the holder's true name.

my blog: Sex: Men Are From Mars
In my lifetime, whether it is my own experiences, the experiences of others, what I have observed in everyday life, television, movies or the news, I have noticed a theme. Men can be and ofttimes are both persistent and very direct in their quest for sex. Why?

my blog: Freedom of Speech: Freedom to say "anything"?
In Canada, the anti-Jewish extremist Salman Hossain has been charged in absentia with three counts of promoting hatred and two counts of advocating genocide based on what he said on his web site. In the United States, the white supremacist "shock jock" radio host Hal Turner has been found guilty of threatening 3 judges based on what he said in his blog. We all think we're free to say anything we want but are we free to say absolutely anything?

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
- Oscar Wilde, Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 - 1900)

2010-09-27

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