Publishing Anonymously on the Internet in 2020

Today's Internet frightens me. There was a period of time, before modern social networks, when I felt comfortable using my real name on the Internet, but the risk of abuse, especially swatting, led me to publish Meipouchou under a pseudonym. Writing is a fun hobby for me, and even if the odds are exceedingly small, I don't want my family to be harmed because of it. But staying anonymous has made it difficult for my work to find its audience.

Part of the problem is that Meipouchou has a niche appeal, limiting its potential to go viral. In the past, this would have been an advantage. Usenet groups, and message boards after them, separated people into communities based on interest, making it easy to find the people most likely to enjoy my work. Some of them even had areas for posting advertisements. Modern social networks group everyone together, meaning Meipouchou has to compete for attention with a wider variety of popular content. There are sites like Wattpad where it is easier to get eyeballs on your work, but they don't provide support for the extensive TL notes that Meipouchou needs.

My reach on social networks is also limited by my followers. This actually wouldn't be a problem if I were posting from my main Twitter account. I have a decent number of mutuals who would enjoy and retweet links to this page. Following others on social media just to promote your work is not only rude, it's unlikely to work, so my ability to reach people from the @StewardMcOy and @meipouchou accounts is non-existent.

That leaves promoted tweets. I dislike seeing promoted tweets in my feed, and they seem like a racket. Twitter and Facebook destroyed niche communities, and now charge people to find and address members of those communities. I'm also loathe to give money to companies with such questionable morals. However, without other options, since I can experiment with twitter advertising campaigns for a small fistful of woolongs, they may be the best way to promote Meipouchou.

The net is vast and infinite. Decades ago, that infinity offered the hope of escape from the mundanities of the real world. You could meet people who shared your interests and have fun with limited repercussions. These days, with everyone connected so tightly, that infinity is reflected back on us, leaving us small and vulnerable, with no room for anonymity. I'm not going to pretend that the old Internet was great, or even that it was better. Abuse and flamewars ran rampant, making its small communities uninviting for many. But to me, Meipouchou feels like a project that would be more at home on the old Internet. I hope it finds its place on this one.