The Parapet Of Obscurity

I mentioned on Maggie’s blog that writing or blogging online might well be an effort to let others know we exist.

I likened it to ‘putting our head up above the parapet of obscurity’.

Maggie liked that line, which made me think more about it.

Before the advent of the Internet, it was all too easy to get lost in the crowd. Unless you were a sporting hero, an eminent politician, a popular film star or musician, perhaps a famous published writer, you could easily spend your entire life unknown other than to your family, friends, and work colleagues.

Most people lived and died without notice or mention, and any legacy they left of their ordinary lives was in some faded photos, and the memories of those who had encountered them.

Then Blogging arrived.

We no longer had to send pages of manuscripts to publishers, in the hope of getting our thoughts and ideas converted into articles or books. Class distinctions no longer applied, with usernames and graphics becoming the norm. Nobody had to know where you were from, whether or not you were well-educated, or what accent you had when you spoke. Unless you decided to tell the world, it was unclear whether you were male or female, old or young. Perhaps the only clue to your origins might be the language you were writing in. But with so many people speaking English, even that was no guarantee of where you might originate from.

Anyone who so desired could tell the world what they thought. They could have opinions that were widely shared, or be outrageously outspoken. The anonymity of your username ensured that you could do what you liked with no repercussions, other than some comment debate with those who didn’t agree with you. But even that could be skipped, as you could just refuse to approve their comments. If you wanted to publish your book, you could serialise it on your blog, cutting out the need to submit it to a company for approval. You could post photos of places you liked, or had visited, and tell anyone who was reading just what you thought of them.

An explosion of opinion arrived online. Opinions about everything from American presidents, to the quality of some blogger’s poetry. You could find yourself very popular, or perhaps reviled, depending on who was actually bothering to read your stuff. Those bloggers could be meek and needy, or rude and arrogant. Nothing mattered, because you were unknown, and anonymous.

Ironically, this very thing still made those bloggers as obscure and unknown as they would have been without the benefit of the online platforms they were using.

So some people, myself included, decided to stick our heads up above that parapet of obscurity, and actually tell everyone who we really were. Where we lived too, and how old we were. What we had done with our lives so far, and what we hoped to do with the rest. Whether we were married, single, gay or straight, depressed or happy. What we liked to eat, and what we didn’t like. We carried on with our ‘like them or not’ opinions, and cast our thoughts out online as if using small fishing nets in an huge, unfamiliar ocean.

We made some friends, and possibly some enemies too. Risking the disapproval of anyone who had access to the Internet, and potentially causing a great deal of embarrassment to those we knew and loved. And many of us laid our lives open to scrutiny, our pasts, and our presents. For all those of us who have chosen to throw off that cloak of anonymity, we should bear something in mind.

It will be ‘out there’ forever, and can never be taken back. Even if you delete your blog, every comment you made elsewhere will still exist. Your photos will be somewhere on a ‘cloud’, and as long as the Internet exists in its present form, whatever you have written about will never disappear. It doesn’t concern me, as I am closer to the end of my life than the beginning. But take heed, before you follow my example.

Once your head appears over that parapet, it cannot go back to obscurity.

58 thoughts on “The Parapet Of Obscurity

  1. Excellent ponderings. I’ve been dealing with this issue of ‘the internet is forever’ and our own mortality and it gets kind of deep for sure. I learned tho that not everything is forever of the internet a few years ago when one of my music concert reviews was lost on the performers site during a website redo. All the places it was pubbed and supposed to be accessed outside of his site were defunct and no longer running…so I dug up the word doc and sent it on to him
    Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes…there are no β€œtakie backs” or apologies in the modern world! Once said/typed it’s there for eternity!

    I recall a poor woman who before boarding a plane in the US posted a tweet which was controversial. She travelled overnight to South Africa. She landed, switched her phone back discover she had been fired from her job and was part of a media s***storm!
    Consequences for ever nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this concept.
    My wife and I are travelers. I started writing for friends and family who wanted to know what we saw. Then, surprised and gratified by these “followers” who kept popping up from places all over the globe, for a short period I succumbed to the desire to keep my head above the “parapet of obscurity” actively seeking followers by reading and “liking” their posts. But then sanity [skepticism] returned. I am gratified by a few consistent friends I have only met through their blogs and comments. I’m old enough now to have seen far too many real friends pass. I’ve traveled enough to see many monuments to people now known only to scholars and momentarily to people reading the monument. I do not believe “the Internet is forever.” But I have come to the point of writing for the pleasure of writing and am pleased to find that the act of a weekly post helps me to better observe what I am seeing as I pass down the road. And now and then, I come across a post like this one that really strikes a chord.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for your thoughts. I am very glad that you enjoyed this post.
      I too doubt that the Internet will continue in its present form, though I suspect that it may become even more involved and potentially intrusive than it is now. But for the time I have left, I will continue to keep trying to leave something behind. Just in case… πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.


  4. I also think there are so many distractions that a lot of folks still get lost because not enough people are looking around. FR’s point–one still has to do something different to get noticed. And then one has to do it with a style and quality to involve more than a few people. You, my friend, do blogging with both style and quality. Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Theo. I have always felt that blogging and other social media platforms were very different to each other. But I have noticed recently that many new bloggers treat the whole thing in much the same way.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you are right about the various platforms collectively called social media are each different and do different things. Blogging is more of a standalone activity unlike, say, Facebook which is a collective or shared platform, unlike the solo platforms each blogger creates. I am largely unfamaliar with the other platforms. Warmest regards, Theo

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoy the real writers because of the ways we can all connect. It would take much too much effort for me to invent a persona to hide behind on-line. I am aware that anything I write can be read anywhere, so I do keep some things private.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. In some cases, Elizabeth. Many were writing about emotional issues like depression or failed romances, etc. Others were expressing some fairly outrageous opinions that they might not to want to have been challenged on. But for those just writing about ‘stuff’, I often wondered why they were apparently worried about being ‘discovered’.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Brilliant post, Pete. So lyrical and eloquent…So thoughtful. “Putting our head up above the parapet of obscurity”. I like that too, a lot. As for me, I don’t ever want to write something that I’m ashamed to put my name to. I’m proud of what I write. I understand the seductive reasoning of writing with an alias, but that’s just not me. I am who I am. For better or worse. I am neither ashamed or enamored by that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pete, I am glad you took the risk to just be you and not hide behind the technology. I do not disparage those who choose anonymity because I understand that choice as well. I, too, notice readership goes down when I am away or just post a short blurb instead of fully flushed out thoughts. The words will always be there in some form or fashion and I am okay with that. I suppose deep down inside there is some desire to leave a bit of me behind when my life comes to a close. Maybe that’s an age thing. Great thoughts as always, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Maggie. I confess I do see my blog as something of a ‘legacy’, which some of my family may well read in the future, and be able to look back on our family life, and my own experiences in a different era. Perhaps a better option than a battered suitcase full of faded photographs. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Absolutely fabulous post. I especially love the title. It’s too true, one had to merely dream about being published,now one can publish anything,and even if no one reads it at the present moment someone somewhere,at time will. Thanks for the post. And; “You’re only as old as You feel” Therefore,I must be a hundred!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Stick your head up and it restricts what you can say about things that could get you into trouble. However, being anonymous also restricts what you can say because once you have written about topics such as school and workplace misbehaviours you have to be careful not to say anything that might too obviously identify you. It’s a difficult one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nothing disappears once it has been sent out there. I think bloggers probably think a bit longer about what they are writing and sending out to the world but people tend to post stuff on Facebook without pausing for thought, which may well come back to haunt them in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. At least when I become a famous author after my death – a prospect my daughter is looking foward to as I am leaving her my manuscripts and intellectual property in my will – looking foward to the fame, not my death I hope – researchers writing about my work will have millions of words to look up on line.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. With everything you are truthfully saying, I don’t think I for one will make any impact or become known for very long. Have you ever gone a week without posting? If I don’t put a post out, the “clicks” on my site dwindle to nothing. So for now, my head is poking out over the parapet…..

    Liked by 4 people

    1. When I was on holiday and didn’t post, I naturally noticed a big fall-off in views. But I suppose that it to be expected. But whenever anyone searches ‘Pacific/ Paratroopers’ in the future, they will always find you, GP. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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