Since it's Friday and I'm feeling giddy with excitement because I'm starting my weekend early, I thought I'd write about one of my favorite subjects - me. After I post this I'm off to what passes for a country house weekend in this country, so you can imagine me sitting on a lawn and sipping martinis by evensong.
I notice a lot of nitwits out in the Greater Bibliotek Blogland Area always complain that I'm anonymous. I'm really pseudonymous, but I won't split hairs. They've realized the folly of trying to argue with me, because if you meet satire with earnest disagreement you just come off looking like a loser who doesn't get the joke. Lots of people argue in the comments section, but usually with each other rather than with me. So since they can't out-argue me, and probably can't out-satirize me, they claim that I'm a "coward." My, how often I've read that accusation. Some of these nitwits seem to think I'm like some fifth grader who'll be hurt if someone calls me names. "The AL's a coward! The AL's a coward!" they all run around chanting. Yawn. Let's just call these earnest folk the Coward Crowd.
You might have noticed the Chronicle article I wrote about a couple of days ago was written pseudonymously under the name of Thomas H. Benton. Now it's true that we know the real name of Benton: "Thomas H. Benton is the pen name of William Pannapacker, an associate professor of English at Hope College." But that wasn't always the case. For a long time Pannapacker wrote just as Benton until he outed himself.
If you're familiar with the Chronicle of Higher Education, you might also know they usually have several pseudonymous columnists at any given time, writing about job searching, life on the tenure track, etc. Some of the Coward Crowd at least pretend to have a nodding acquaintance with higher education, though it's not always clear from their reasoning abilities. Nevertheless, they don't seem to mind this practice of the Chronicle.
You might also be aware that there are a LOT of anonymous or pseudonymous library blogs. One of my favorites is Dances with Books, which should be required reading for all library managers, but there are many others of varying quality. If I'd ever had any thoughts about being a public librarian, these blogs would set me straight. You can be pretty sure that any blogger writing about her workplace or her patrons is blogging anonymously. One of the reasons I never write about those areas is because when I started there were already so many of these blogs, including one of my all time favorites, the now defunct Happyville Library with its soap opera cast and plot. However, I never read other library bloggers talking about how DWB or the Happy Villain or those Mofo librarians are "cowards."
So the query for my critics, and I'm just asking because I'm curious, is: why is everybody always picking on me? I certainly don't mind, because every time some earnest blogger talks about how terrible I am, they look like they've got their knickers in a knot and I get a big bunch of new readers. It doesn't hurt me when you call me names, because I really don't care. I write for the folks that get it, and to hell with the others.
Maybe my question is more psychological. Why does it bother some people so much that there's an anonymous blogger out there? And if it bothers them, why does the AL bother them more than other anonymous bloggers? I just wonder why some readers get so fixated on the anonymity and others couldn't care less.
It can't just be that they don't like what I have to say. Though the Coward Crowd are usually hostile critics, not all of my critics care about the anonymity. I know from reading blog posts inspired by the AL that plenty of librarians, perhaps the majority, disagree with me, but they don't get obsessed about the anonymity. Often, these are the bloggers who make some of the best points, because they focus on clarifying their own positions. These bloggers focus on ideas. I guess some people can't focus on ideas because they're too obsessed with personalities.
It also can't be that I've attacked the Coward Crowd. Plenty of librarians have felt the lash of the AL and laughed to tell the tale. I still get a chuckle of the remark that "the Annoyed Librarian is annoyed with me, so I must be doing something right." Perhaps he is. Besides, it's not always clear who I'm writing about. I couldn't help but notice during the twopointopia flap how some librarians self-identified themselves as twopointopians and then claimed it wasn't a cult, while others realized that if there was a cult of twopointopia, they weren't part of it, regardless of their interest in 2.0 technology. That post acted more like a Rorschach test than anything else, as I've noticed some of my posts seem to do.
So it can't just be that I'm anonymous, because the hostile critics don't bother to accuse other anonymous library bloggers of cowardice, only little old me. It can't be that they don't like what I have to say, because lots of librarians who don't like what I have to say don't worry about the anonymity. Heck, some of those librarians go so far as (gasp!) not even to read my blog. How dare they! And it can't just be because I've made them my...no, this is a family blog. I mean it can't be because they've tasted my pain.
I once had a professor who at the end of the course asked, "what reading this semester did you dislike the most? And what intellectual failing on your part does that dislike highlight?" I feel sort of the same way about the Coward Crowd. Please, Coward Crowd, tell me what psychological tic you have that makes you worry about this so.
Oh, well. I'll probably never know for sure. I have a sneaking suspicion why they're so bothered, but it has a whiff of self-aggrandizement about it so I won't voice it. I'm nothing if not modest. I'm so modest, I won't even tell you who I am. And that bothers you, doesn't it.