I just had a long chat with the owner of my company. It was a pleasant chat, and we had a few good chuckles. But there was a subtext, which I will share with you in my own candid, naiive way.
You're never really anonymous on the internet. I mean, I'm not, and I have made no attempt to hide my identity other than not mentioning my actual name and home address. But as a reader of this blog, you aren't exactly anonymous either.
Let me explain further:
It has come to my attention that not all my audience is sympathetic to my postings. You'd think the simple reaction would be "This sucks, so I won't read it any more."
Some (obscene gerund) guy called my office last week and left a message on my voice mail about how I was endangering my clients lives by posting "I have a flight to Chicago on Monday", as it clearly gave specific information to terrorists who would then presumably lay in wait for us, and then do unspeakable things to us, all because I gave them our confidential flight itinerary. Never mind that I didn't mention what airport in Chicago (there are at least a dozen in the local area), what time, or even what plane I would be taking, and whether or not it was a corporate or a charter flight. Clearly I gave Osama the upper hand.
What the hell what I thinking?
Well, to be honest, I wasn't. I mostly post this blog for my mom; she's far away and it makes me feel closer to her to show her the details about my life, including my job. It never occured to me that some people might think that "I have a flight to Chicago on Monday" might hurt my company or endanger my safety.
Anyway, I listened to the voice mail and decided to remove the links on my blog that used to let my readers track my aircraft. I'm not worried about terr'ists so much as I was worried that the person who called my voice mail might be a stalker, and even though having my own internet stalker is very exciting in a way, I simply don't have the time and energy energy to deal with that particular kind of person. I mean, I don't even own a taser.
So I removed the link, and I went through my blog to remove any sort of specific reference to any sort of things that might possibly be remotely construed as possibly invading the privacy of my company or the people who I fly with.
The next day, the same guy left this comment on my blog.
"I see that the nature of your blog has changed. This is a good thing. I see that you have also removed the ability for viewers to track your aircraft. This is also a good thing. I cant imagine how any corporate pilot in these days of security and terrorism, would/could knowingly divulge the itineraries of their company on the internet.
I watched as your aircraft departed from Landmark for your trip to PWK...Scary isnt it...and your boss and chief pilot and many others in the industry were watching as well.
Sadly - the conversations that you must have had with he owner and the chief pilot would have come as a complete shock to you.
Nice eh? Some (obscene gerund) guy hides behind his anonymity to completely creep me out, and then tells me to abandon my career as a pilot.
But it turns out this guy isn't so anonymous.
I have a hit counter on my blog. If you scroll down to the bottom left of my blog page, all the way to the bottom, you'll see it. As of this afternoon, it's just about to turn over 10,000 hits. It also has a cool secondary use, which is that it gives me all sorts of information about who visits my blog - when you visit my blog, you get more than a piece of my soul, you get a small tracking cookie from my blog that goes into your computer. Among other details, it showed me the IP address of the person who left the comment, and through some pretty advanced computer geekery mixed with a decent WHOIS ip lookup, I was able to figure out where this guy lived, and who he is.
He works for a company just across the ramp from me, and in fact was probably watching me when I flew to Chicago last week. We have never met in real life; I'm certainly happy to keep it that way, and I can only presume he will afford me the same courtesy.
Otherwise it might get awkward.
Anyway, how do I react?
It doesn't matter that the owner of my company has a link to my blog, and when I write on it I assume that he reads every post. It doesn't matter that he had a good laugh about this whole situation. What matters is that I am a professional, and I shall not portray myself as anything but that.
I will no longer be posting anything that might possibly be construed as hurting the company I work for, like when I posted that I wasn't entirely prepared for the approach into Red Lake a few weeks ago due to sudden smoke from nearby fires. It doesn't matter that I didn't actually screw up the approach, nor does it matter that safety was not comprimised in any way whatsoever. I may have given the impression that I was a human and made mistakes, and as a professional pilot, I do not make mistakes.
I will no longer publish pics of myself pretending to be asleep, even though I thought they were pretty funny, and Lisa called them 'cute'. It doesn't matter that I have never actually slept in an airplane, whether as a passenger or as a crew member. As a professional pilot, I do not sleep.
I will only be posting about trips I have already flown, so that Osama has less of a chance to take our baby jet on a rampage. As a professional pilot, I worry about 'the terror', so my clients don't have to.
I was going to talk about Lisa, and what role she plays in my life, if any, but that won't be happening. I was going to talk about the rest of my family, but I'd hate for Osama to go after them simply because they were on my blog.
So for those of you who read my blog in order to talk about my weaknesses and failings, I'm done talking about those. I can still put in several posts a week without actually taking you into my confidence, and that's how it's going to be from now on.
It's the best thing for all of us, no?