George Orwell once wrote that nothing readable can be written unless one struggles to efface one’s personality. Think about this statement long enough and you will start to think of it as a mirage.
We live in a digital world which subverts any attempt to efface our personality. Blogs and social media tools give expression to our changing personality and document our relationships with others over time. They document what we give as well as what we give off in our search for identity, our hopes, our anxieties and the ways in which we interact with the world around us.
We all know one of those bloggers who break through the narrative set by the media in their profession, who have the courage to blog on their work. How they bring creativity and innovation to their profession. I want to be one of those bloggers.
I think of the Robodebt Program and how those who worked on it were hunted down online and I feel a bit sick. The online world is bleeding into our work life, a space some of us use to carve out a career and others, simply to make ends meet. I’m not sure I want to be judged as the same person whether at work or at home, and I know I don’t want to suffer the online consequences.
Orwell believed that a writer’s subject matter is formed by the times in which they live and that the tumultuous, evolutionary times in which he lived had formed his writing and political fight against totalitarianism. I think of Orwell and call my blog Data Anxiety. I want it to reflect our times. Our desire to write publicly and our fear of the exposure which public writing brings; the desire for more attention and the fear of being the recipient of unwanted attention; the desire for more information and the inability to process what we are given.
I want my blog to also reflect our pandemic times. Our questions about privacy and our need for safety and protection. Our hope that scientific rationality will save us and our nagging fear that the amount of information provided online is only making us more anxious.