Break cover

Apart from those who occasionally surface to like or comment on a post, I have no idea who reads my blog. The basic hosting tier I have provides very limited usage stats; to integrate Google Analytics, I’d need to pay more. I can’t see your IP address. I can’t even view granular geolocation data.

All I can see is what pages are being visited, the number of views and visits, and the country associated with a user’s session. Ah, no, but not the pages visited by which country: it’s not that sophisticated. I can’t even identify logged-in users, unless they happen to interact with a post in some way.

But, look, I’m a seasoned web professional. I’m charged with providing a wholistic service which covers all aspects of the field, from hosting to development to writing. As a result, I spend my working life tracking the would-be hackers who daily initiate brute-force attacks on the websites I manage. Naturally I know all about Tor exit nodes and VPN obfuscation.

It’s true that I don’t know who is reading my blog, but even without granular data I can make educated guesses as to how some are accessing it. A lot of amateur sleuths don’t seem to realise that despite hiding behind a VPN, their actual browsing behaviour exposes them. Why? Because I have OCD. I see patterns. Because the web is my bread and butter.

Naturally, this is why I am on edge these days. For I have seen the spikes in traffic. I have seen what is being read, and presumably shared. I have seen how much of it links to my identity and history. And so, of course, paranoia kicks in with full force. As my inner anxiety levels are catapulted skywards, I identify several candidates in the malicious camp, and one or two in the benign.

One recent spike was for an old post of mine, not touched in thirteen years, which once caused white supremacists to descend on my blog en masse to declare me a race traitor, who should watch his step. These proud nationalists didn’t appreciate being called out for their lies, nor being told to take personal responsibility for their lives instead of forever blaming the outsider.

Have the bovver boots been sent marching once more, despatched to put me back in my place? Possible, but unlikely. The real reason that old article has surfaced, I believe, is because it’s one of the few extant posts that still references me by my name. It’s one of several articles that suddenly returned from the dead about a month ago. Another of them, hastily edited, accidentally revealed my father’s name. Others reveal a bit too much about my employment history, and the places I have lived throughout my life.

So I am revealed. I have been found out, my preferred anonymity undermined. By whom, and why? These are the questions which occupy me, to which I currently have three tentative hypotheses in addition to the one above. It could be any, some, all or none of them.

The first, the defenders of the activist aristocracy, who object to my refusal to advocate on behalf of men accused of wrongdoing. The second, social engineers intent on targeting infrastructure I manage professionally. The third, old acquaintances attempting to work out if this blog belongs to me.

At the end of the day, I don’t care who reads my blog, as long as I’m not under threat. It was out of fear of extremists and their extremism that my beloved once begged me to obscure my blogging identity. But I now see that is futile, for those really intent on trying could trace every link that points back to me in a single afternoon.

So I am found out: by now, those who are really intent on trying — whoever they are — know who I am, what I believe and what I stand for. They’ve probably even seen a photo of my mum and dad on a local news site standing next to a bird table. I guess there are no secrets at all anymore. What a shame.

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