This is, in many ways, quite a self-indulgent post and not really on the usual topics I discuss, I apologise in advance, but hell it’s my blog – I can write about what I like.
In many ways, I have a lot of time for the view that people should not be able to set up anonymous Twitter accounts or other social media profiles, I often think if people had to use their own name and include a photo of themselves there would be considerably less abuse. However, some have far more important reasons than I do for being anonymous online – for example, political activists in other countries whose lives would be in danger if they posted under their real names.
Another benefit of anonymity is that individuals can write about their jobs/professions more candidly than if they published under their own name. The Secret Barrister is probably the most high-profile current example of this. There is a general benefit to society in her/him being able to write honestly about a subject which can affect us all.
I do not write on a topic with as much level of interest or importance to general society (this, in my view, is a shame – I wish more people were interested in the well-being, and what happens to, about 70,000 children and young people). Nevertheless, it has been read by a reasonable number of people who are connected to children’s social care in some way, some have let me know that they have found it interesting and helpful – I am pleased and proud about that.
When I first set up the blog, I first and foremost wanted it to be honest – honest about my experiences, honest about things that happen, and honest about myself. There was simply no way of doing that and protecting the young people I look after, even though they are disguised. Obviously, if they Googled my name – and I know they do this (I do not blame them, I am sure I would too) – even if they did not recognise themselves in any posts, they would still know all the different thoughts I had at different times. I could not know what impact this would have, even if they were reading after they had left care. It is probably worth saying, I do not entirely agree with positions I may have taken up in earlier posts, I leave them up because that is how I felt and what I thought at a given moment – part of the initial intention of the blog.
Secondly, I wanted to write about my own experiences as a child. This too could be read by young people I look after and, now, young people I see as a therapist – I have written elsewhere about how unhelpful self-disclosure can be. There was a brief period recently when I considered de-anonymising the blog, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised this was simply not possible.
I have things I want to do with my life/career – I do not intend to work in frontline residential care for much longer – to do these things, it would be helpful to have a social media presence of my own. Obviously, this will involve following and interacting with many of the same people, I cannot see how it makes sense or is even ethical to interact with people under two different accounts – nor, frankly, can I imagine attempting to do this without going mad.
This is pretty much the post I have been intending to write for a few days now, however, in the last 24-hours two issues have arisen:
One is that someone has thought I am someone called “James Danvers” – I am not – and posted screenshots of another website, which he attributes to me. The simple truth is this, I initially paid for the lostincare.co.uk domain, after a few months a friend suggested I buy lostincare.com as well, so no one could use it and to avoid confusion. Unfortunately, someone already owned it and it led to a website which contained dark themes and imagery – I was worried we would get mixed up but couldn’t really do anything about it. Maybe a year or so ago, I was emailed by my hosting company to say lostincare.com had become available – I immediately purchased it. Both domains are now directed at this website.
The second issue, is that last night, someone accused me of “hiding behind” an anonymous account during a disagreement on Twitter. I am not going to revisit the dispute here – you can find the threads if you are interested. I am really very confident I did not/would not say anything that I would not be comfortable saying under my own name – those who know me well would confirm I can be fairly opinionated. However, how can I be absolutely certain of this?? A friend gave the analogy of how people’s behaviour changes when they are in their cars – because they feel protected. I can only really be certain I would express myself in the same way under my own identity if I start using it.
That aside, over time I have tweeted and expressed opinions on a much wider array of issues beyond just children’s social care and related matters. I have become increasingly uncomfortable doing this under a pseudonym, indeed I would like to stand by the things I say about children’s social care as myself too.
For these reasons, this will be the last post on this blog, and I will soon deactivate the linked Twitter account. I will reappear at some point under my own name and I will write a blog, writing about many similar themes, on a site connected to my therapeutic and training services. Perhaps some of you will put two and two together – I would ask you not to publicly discuss this, for the reasons given above, but I cannot stop you and it would be on your conscience if you did.
For now, I will leave this blog up for a while, I just won’t post to it, I will pick up messages via the contact me section and will respond if it feels worthwhile. I would like to say thank you to all the people who have read it, all those I have chatted to, argued with and agreed with on Twitter and via this blog. I hope it has made a difference to some of you. Maybe our paths will cross again, but, for now, I wish you all well. It is with considerable sadness, but nevertheless, what feels like a healthy and necessary closing of a chapter in my life, I say goodbye and take care.