On Anonymity
photo from Carolina

Let me go ahead and clear the air before you read any further: my name is not actually Jane Krieger. Not even close.

When presented the opportunity to write for this website, I knew immediately that I wanted to get involved. I live for advocacy, but I also enjoy music, reading, fashion and art, as many teenagers do. Writing is one of my greatest passions in life, and I dream of making a career out of writing. In other words, The Pulp Zine was perfect for me.

However, my paranoid nature caught up with my excitement, as it often does. In my role as a contributor to The Pulp Zine, I would most likely have to write pieces of a personal nature. In fact, most of my writing is incredibly personal, so why would my writing for the Zine be any different?

But, in the past, I have only shared my personal writing with close friends, family, and teachers. I delivered a speech in front of my school about religion, but it was barely controversial. If The Pulp Zine wants to represent the reality of teenagers to its readers, the writers need to be honest. And the prospect of being honest in my legal name terrifies me.

You’ve heard it from your teachers, your parents, your aunts and uncles and college advisers: the Internet is truly a permanent place. Although I look at myself as an insignificant droplet of water in the vast sea of information, anyone looking for me on the web can find me.

I am a junior in high school, so teachers and advisers have badgered my classmates and I about Internet etiquette endlessly. The offensive photos or dirty language seem easy to filter out before sending in applications, but personal writing presents a different issue.

I, like many teenagers, have struggled with mental illness. You will definitely read more about my experiences with mental health later, especially because I have decided to write about them with a pseudonym. Unfortunately, many colleges view prospective students who have dealt with depression, bipolar disorder, or other disorders of the same nature as liabilities. I am under the close watch of my doctor and therapist, and I have been taking medication for quite some time. From my point of view, although depression still haunts me from time to time, I am in pretty good control of my emotional and mental state. Dare I say, at times I feel like I have overcome the hardship that depression causes. College Applications often include essay prompts asking about struggles that the applicant has endured and defied. But the unspoken rule is, do not write about mental illness, no matter how closely your experiences relate to the question. Following the same logic, I do not want to write about my medical history under my real name, in the event that a future college or employer exhumes my writing and rejects me. While on the one hand, I want to give a big middle finger to the system and sign my name on all of my manifestos…on the other hand, I have goals and dreams that unfortunately don’t line up with my ideal reality.

Mental illness is not the only personal issue I would like to write about. Friendship issues, family drama, ethical dilemmas and boys, of course, are other prevalent topics in my life, as well as the lives of The Pulp Zine’s readers. I am proud of my writing, but that doesn’t mean that I want my whole family to read about my boy issues. Similarly, I have fought with friends in the past, and I have some advice to lend to readers who might be going through similar difficulties with their friends. I don’t want one of these friends to find my writing and over analyze it, as teenagers like myself often do. I will, of course, use pseudonyms for everyone mentioned in my writing, in addition to myself. By writing anonymously, I not only protect my privacy, but also the privacy of my close friends and family members.

I hope that you, The Pulp Zine readers, will trust me. Trust that I am not a 53 year-old man sitting in a dark room illuminated only by the light of my computer screen. Trust that the experiences I write about are real and true, and not fabricated by a shadowy enigma. I applaud the other Pulp Zine writers who have the courage and confidence to bare their personal beliefs and stories in public. I only wish I had such audacity, and I hope that some day soon I will.

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April 25, 2013

Comments

I relate to this! Honesty in writing is the most important thing. I am also writing under an penname and agree wholeheartedly with your reasoning. It’s awful that we live in a world that tracks your every move and word on the internet, and then spins it around to judge you based on those moves and words, but pennanmes are kind of a relief! The best of both worlds…

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