I am an anonymous blogger. You may know my first name, but you don’t know my last. You don’t know my children’s names, and although you may know the color of their hair, you’ve never seen a picture of their full faces. You don’t know my husband’s name, his title or rank in the military, or what branch of the military he proudly serves. You don’t know what state we live in, which YMCA we frequent, or what kinds of cars we drive. You don’t even know what I look like. You could walk by me in the produce section of the commissary and never know I was that girl riding the roller coaster.  We are an anonymous military family, living an anonymous life.  At least in the blogosphere.

My primary reason for maintaining my blogging anonymity is for military OPSEC purposes (that’s Operations Security for you civilians). Basically that means that I can’t reveal any bits and pieces of our military lives that would lead one to piece together a puzzle of secrets. More specifically, you will never know the details of the events that most affect my life. You will never know particulars about my husband’s deployment: where he is going, when he is leaving, how long he will be gone, what he will be doing, or when he is coming home. These are all extremely influential parts of my life, but sadly, unless you happen to be a reader who knows me personally, you will only learn generalities about my life. As a person who tends to lean toward introversion and secretly fears pubic scrutiny, I like hiding behind the façade of anonymity. 

But I wonder how long my anonymity will be maintained. Next month I am attending the Milblog Conference. My hotel room is booked, my child care and travel plans are secured. As much as I look forward to meeting other military bloggers, I realize that my anonymity will be lost the second I exchange my first business card.

I don’t know how I feel about that.

Do you blog anonymously?  If so, do you feel you can be more candid than if you provided readers with your full identity?  And if you don’t blog anonymously, do you wish you did?

21 Comments on OPSEC

  1. Ooh, this is one I've struggled with for a while. On the one hand, I like to talk about myself and some details (like where I shop) are given away by the nature of my blog. On the other hand, I rarely post photos of my family and don't give my kids real names. I'm trying to find a balance that makes my blog personal but not insecure.

  2. I blog anonymously for similar reasons and personal reasons. I don't know if I can be more candid, because I have to censor and think about what I post, which is a good thing in some ways, but also very 007 and tedious in other ways. My take on the topic, where my family & life are concerned: There are simply factoids about our life that strangers and even people who know us do not need to know via this public forum.

  3. I don't blog anonymously and I AM in the Military LOL.

    I don't give out any information that I don't think anyone else would give out, Military or non-Military [Full names. Addresses. Phone numbers etc…]. As far as my career goes, that's when I really don't talk much. I may show photos from work [aircraft] but as long as I blur out the tail numbers then I am allowed to do so.

  4. I'm fine with others doing what they want.
    If others are interested in what I have got to say wether you know who I am or not..kudos!
    If not, I'm cool with it.
    It's not a secret, others like YOU regardless of your indentity.
    Look at how many followers you have.

  5. I actually think blogging anonymously is MORE dangerous, because you have a false sense of security. Its easier for people to find out things about you than most people realize. I saw the title of your post on another blog, so I clicked on it, never read any of your posts before or anything- but this one says no one knows what branch your dh is in- the website I came here from has the blogs organized by branch, so unless your just miscategorized to throw people off, I do know what branch he's in, lol. It's a small thing, but as another example, there's another milspouse blog, and not too long ago the blogger was in law school. Since I've been through trying to attend law school and work around my husband's duty stations I was curious as to where they were stationed and which school she was attending- even though she doesn't open disclose any of these things, in about 5 minutes I had it figured out (their names (including her dh's rank), duty station, her school, etc). And I'm not a crazy stalker, I swear. So anyways, my opinion is its better not to try and be anonymous- chances are, you aren't as anonymous as you think you are anyways.

  6. I don't think I could keep blogging if I was more anonymous. I mean I don't share things that break OPSEC but I do talk about myself a little. I will share photos. I will probably not show a photo of the outside of my house. I will never state on my blog where I live in the city I live. I do share where we are stationed. I do use nicknames for my kids. I never use my last name. But in the end people might be able to figure it out.

    But you have to do what you are comfortable with 🙂

  7. I am not entirely anonymous, obviously but I am very cautious with certain information. However, there's people that could find out anything they wanted to given the right knowledge. When you sign up for websites, if you put your real last name, birth date, etc… these people can find your social security number and more. It's a scary thought of course especially when you consider that nothing on the internet is ever really deleted.

  8. After reading that anonymous comment… I also wanted to point out that many websites, blogs included have site trackers installed. The site owner can view your IP address, your city, state, your internet service provider… See what i'm saying? You're never really anonymous but if it does really bother you I would consider staying off the internet.

  9. I dont blog anonymously because I never really thought to. I always thought that my readers will really want to know me, know who I am, know how i live and know my life. I dont get into specifics so hopefully if you google me you wont find where I live but I guess I just trust that no psycho is going to really want to find me based on my crocheting and cooking skills. 😉

  10. Yeah I can't be totally anonymous. I used to be completely open before SoldierMan joined, but then I saw how most of the milbloggers removed certain pertinent information (like name and rank) so I thought, to be on the safe side, I'd do that too. But I can't be completely anonymous. I already have to censor so much of what I say because I know my family and a few friends have found the blog. If I cut out anything else, well, it wouldn't be me anymore. 🙂 But that's just me. We all have different comfort levels.

  11. I really like this post…just thought I'd let you know.

    I don't blog anonymously. A lot of my posts talk about my hometown, university, family members, and roommates. I think it would be hard for me to blog anonymously because most of my posts are soooooo personal. Heck, someone could probably find me if they tried hard enough 🙂

    You do a good job keeping your identity hidden, though, so I know it's possible.

  12. At my blog, I let it all hang out and let the chips fall where they may. I've never felt any unease over this anymore than any writer who puts her face/name on her newspaper column. Sharing who I am allows my readers to share who they are, as well. For me, my writing demands that I be open with people and it seems to work out fine.

  13. I think it's all personal preference, even though I don't believe that being extremely specific is safe. Listing things like addresses, phone numbers, etc., is not necessary. I started our blog to try and keep family and friends updated on our lifestyle, so I put our names in the blog url. Do I wish I would've done that? No. I try more now not to be specific on what brigade/battalion my husband is in, even though I think if you REALLY wanted to know you could figure it out. I list our location (without being specific), a generalization of his rank (nothing specific), and stuff like that. But I won't say where he is exactly or exactly what he's doing. If someone knows me well enough, they will already have that information.

  14. I talk about where I'm originally from, and I know I've slipped and put P's first name on the blog once or twice. I'm sure if someone tried hard enough, they could find my facebook page. I worry a bit about it, not just because of OPSEC, but because my friends and family don't know about my blog.

    I've worried a bit about having P's face in my header, and I'm thinking I might update it when he gets back to another photo of the two of us where you can't see his face so clearly. I openly admit he is Army, and at some point, I know I said his MOS, but beyond that I think I'm pretty good about it.

    Although I'm starting to feel like I should be a little more careful and keep it even more anonymous, although I know that the internet isn't all that anonymous.

    Interesting post! I enjoyed reading the discussion!

  15. This is such an interesting question. I am fairly open with details on my blog – but a friend of mine recently stopped blogging, because her husband was concerned about the details she wrote about their children. She wrote about life with a learning disabled son; she was extremely open and honest, and felt she couldn't write any other way. Her husband was worried that her son could be negatively impacted by personal details of his disability being made public. She felt she had to tell all or nothing, and for now has chosen nothing. I miss her blog; it was raw and revealing – but I understand her decision.

    Thanks for your kind comment on my guest post, I love your blog, Heather!!


  16. I used to be very open in my blog. It was The B________ Family blog and each of us was named. But then through Google Analytics I noticed people were searching for my son by his entire name and it freaked me out. We went to code names for the kids immediately after that. Our last name is no longer anywhere on the blog. I also keep our exact location a secret, though I do talk about the fact that we are on Recruiting in Ohio. I have mentioned my husband's rank in posts regarding promotion and the sort. I feel like we should be a little more anonymous, but its too much work for me to keep everything secret. I would slip up.

  17. Hi
    I am not anonymous on my blog; but I don't mention my daughter's name and have only used pix from 6+ years ago of her. I am writing a book so I wanted my name out there…but on the bad days, I wish I was totally anonymous :-D!!

  18. Found your blog through the lady bloggers! I am a military wife too, I agree OPSEC is important, but I do not write anonymously. Have a great day! 🙂

  19. I used to blog much more anonymously than I do now, but my blog really started out as a way for friends and family to keep up with our goings on, so anonymity isn't really going to cut it.

    When it comes to military rank and opsec issues, I will blog about the event and set it to post sometime in the future. That way I never disclose actual dates or talk about anything coming up until it's pretty much happened.

    Thanks for following!

  20. In the blogging world. I really don't think anyone can be truly "a ghost writer." I have a homeschool blog and I use my children's first names. But I don't discuss my hubby's mission at all. I don't discuss the day he will be leaving for a deployment, etc etc. Yes, I am cautious about what I say, but I also feel a blog has to have some truth to it. For all we know….you're a made up character?

    Bottom line, if you have a last and first name and you use AKO…everything is out there on the web. Even our installation page – an article was just layed out where my hubby's BN is being deployed too. How's that for security?

    I really believe that if they want the information…they can easily get it. I don't waste my time worrying about it. My family's schedule is always busy and never the same. I don't post for my blog or tweet exact dates/times. I only have Friends that I know on FB. etc etc.

    Am I against social media? No. Am I against OPEC and PERSEC? Definitely not. But I don't live in Fear either. And least not of Men.

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