My Identity

(Or lack thereof)

Perhaps the most frequently asked question I get is about my identity and why I choose not to reveal my face or voice.  I get this question so often, I've decided to make an entire stand-alone page to answer it.

Obviously, such an undertaking is extremely costly to me in multiple ways and so it's not something I enter into frivolously.  However, being anonymous also comes with several benefits - some offensive, some defensive.  Some as an author and artist, some as a political observer.  Some just as a human being, and so it's also something I do not wish to end frivolously either, if I can help it.  Though, I fully expect some malicious entity will dox me eventually.

But ultimately, there isn't one single reason for my anonymity.

In my FAQ page, I mention reasons pertaining to Death of the Author and how it helps my work speak for itself.  However, another major reason I wear a mask is to force you to ask yourself why you care that I wear one.

Have you ever stopped to consider why you're so interested in superficial characteristics about me?  Why does not knowing something like my skin pigment or what I have between my legs bother you so much?  Do you think it changes the truth-value of anything I say?  Does it change the merits or anything that I do?  Or is it as irrelevant as hair and eye color?

You and I aren't dating, you're not my doctor, and you're not a member of my family, so what makes you think you're entitled to that information?

People often ask me: "How will people know anything about you?" as if my phenotypes had anything to do with who I am at my core.  As if they had anything to do with my skills, my ideas, or me as a living soul incarnate.

That said, I'm usually quite open with people about things other than my demographics. By which I mean, you can ask me anything you like, just nothing about my real name, my age, where I live, my race, sex, orientation, height, weight, gender identity, ethnicity, or details to do with my family and work that might out these other categories.

Some people accuse me of hiding, but I honestly don't care if you know what I am.  It's less of a shield and more of a sword.  One used to strike at people's unchallenged, unexamined assumptions and judgments about personal identity.

If you like, you can think of it as a social experiment in not having an identity.  As I said, it's very costly to run this experiment, but I don't mind as long as people find value in the work I do and the sacrifices I am making to bring this data to humanity.  No one else seems willing and able to do it, and that's ok too.  It's not something I am recommending as a solution you have to replicate.

 

And the experiment is such that, once I unmask, that's it.  I can't undo it.  The experiment is over.  So naturally, I have to be careful in whom I trust with my real identity.  Loose lips sink ships, as it were, and the more people who know, the more I have to keep track of and it's hard enough already playing this role.  Sucks that I am forced to maintain the ruse for my friends as well as my enemies, but I must remain consistent for this to work.

The analogy I often use is it's like being an undercover cop (and no, I'm not actually a cop, narc, or fed in real life).

These days, I imagine pretty much every group has its stereotypes, its prejudices, and its reasons for remaining silent and flying below the radar.  By not having an identity, I am able to move freely between any and all such groups and gain insight into how the other half lives.

 

One of the benefits of this work is coming to realize in myself just how much energy and effort and emotion is placed in caring about superficial characteristics and the tribes that are built around them.  And by virtue, seeing that in others as well, and having to put myself in the shoes of someone else, pausing before each statement to consider whether this is something they might think, say, or do.  In this way, I feel I have come to develop a greater level of empathy towards people of all different backgrounds.

My hope is that, by removing these traits, it will allow me to be a mirror to help others better see themselves and to get to the heart of what is really important in life.

 

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