Anonymous Pen Pals

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about Tech Support and how exactly to get that ball rolling.

I’ve also been thinking about the role the internet plays/can play as a support network. The internet has a huge potential for helping people - just look at Q&A sites like Stack Overflow where software developers seek for almost every software problem imaginable. When it comes to more personal matters though, there is a big problem - that our personal and professional lives are so intertwined on the internet.

It can be hard enough to discuss and share your concerns about your daily struggles or mental health without worrying about whether your present or future employer/clients/colleagues will come across it online and judge you, or treat you differently because of it.

So what can we do? I don’t have the answers, but something I’ve been thinking about is trusted anonymity. Would a closed network of trusted (i.e. known) individuals but where all communication is anonymous, be a more appropriate model for people looking to learn from each other about their struggles?

This could be anything from a fully anonymous mailing list, to creating one-to-one anonymous pen pals. I love the idea of being able to discuss and grow with “anonymous founder of a web startup in East London”, without all the concerns raised by either of us fully knowing who the other is.

Perhaps this has been tried already? Or already exists? Or is a crazy idea? I’d love your thoughts.