I’m hidden, but I’m not hiding. For note, though I’m barely read, I am a prolific writer, revealing my innermost thoughts before the entire world. Those thoughts are not locked behind a paywall or multi-factor authentication. I am right here, in the public domain, hidden in plain sight. There is no mystery surrounding the man; my soul is wide open, on full display.

If somebody wished to find me, it would not be hard. I have sadly left a trail of cyber debris behind me in my quarter of a century online. Most of it I cannot clean up, because I have no means to authenticate recovery, or because persistence is just the nature of the various services I have used through the years.

Sometimes we find our own faces plastered across websites, in books and magazines, published without our consent or knowledge. We make no fuss, because who really cares? We are the nobodies, our lives of no concern to others.

There is no need for old friends to go googling me night and day. If they wanted to find me, they would find me right here, where I always was. I’ve been blogging since 2005; try as I may, I seem to be unable to obscure my blogging identity. Those who know know and those who don’t don’t care.

My reality is betrayed by the cyber detritus I have left in my wake. The books once published. Random acts of kindness somehow forever associated with my name. Abandoned social media accounts somehow never properly closed, beyond recovery.

Alas, I have no hope of ever being thought a troll, a sock puppet or some imagined fictional character, for try as I may to strip all identity from my output, some piece of metadata submitted eons ago has somehow attached itself to all I write.

Removing every reference to time or place, or face, is a futile quest, for we reside in this world. Even posts long unpublished seem to live on in cached lives elsewhere beyond erasure. Perhaps that is why I have given up trying to obscure my identity. Perhaps that’s why I’m past caring.

It’s years since I went out seeking an audience. I’m happy with it being quiet in these parts. I’m okay being read by only a few, or not at all. I’ve long realised that being insignificant brings a special kind of freedom that the significant could only dream of: to be able to write whatever you like and not fear censure.

For, see: mostly ignored by most, you get the authentic me, wittering away on the periphery. I don’t need to perform for the masses. I don’t need to stoke controversies to remain relevant. I don’t need to write populist articles that will earn me a hundred likes and a thousand new followers. What you get is my true self: my heart laid bare.

I embraced this mode of being in my second year of university, when I consciously made the decision to cut myself off and become a recluse. I suppose the same is true here. I’ve consciously chosen to keep on blogging out in the wilds of the web, whether I have an audience or not. It doesn’t matter to me.

Hidden, but not hiding. This because I learned the hard way what happens to those who strive to make themselves known. Some old friends of mine witnessed such disasters in full. If only I had remained hidden back then, keeping myself to myself, my head down, content to be a nobody ignored.

If only I had embraced this special kind of freedom then. Hidden but not hiding.

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