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On blogging anonymously…or not

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When I first started blogging (such as it is – I don’t write nearly often enough, a condition I hope to rectify), it seemed quite natural to take on a pseudonym. I christened my virtual self Distorted Angel, a reference designed to tell you just a tiny bit about me, but not too much. From within the confines of anonymity, I felt relatively safe. You are free to judge me, but not too free, because you don’t know who I am. If you judge me, and find me lacking, it’s not the real me you don’t like. Is it?

The thing about the internet that is at once wonderful and terrible is the ability it gives us to be whatever we pretend to be. In the absence of any externally verifiable data, I have to believe that you are who you say you are. You may or may not be telling the truth, or at least not some version of the truth that I would recognize if I met you face to face, but at some point I have to choose how much of your truth I am going to accept. There are, of course, perfectly valid reasons for wanting to preserve one’s anonymity. Bloggers have been known to lose their jobs because of their blogging activities; it’s easier to write about your family or friends if you don’t have to worry about embarrassing them (or yourself). Women in particular have issues of personal safety to consider. The flip side of all this, of course, is that if you’re at all interested in being taken seriously, it helps if you have the courage to attach your name to your opinions.

In any case, the decision to blog under my real name boils down in the end to a matter of ego. A few weeks ago, a fellow Blogcritic asked my permission to reprint a review I had written in a professional newsletter that he edits. I was happy to be asked, and once the piece was printed, he forwarded me a copy of the newsletter. It looked good, and I’m proud of the piece, and realized I would have been prouder still if it had my name on it. So from now on, everything I write here is going to have my name on it, for better or for worse.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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About Lisa McKay

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Good for you:)

    I made the choice, early on, to blog under my own name for similar reasons – to stake a claim to one’s work – although I do use various noms de plume across the web we weave to make points I would not probably make as myself.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Congrats, Lisa, it is a tough hurdle to jump over. As is putting anything in print, even in the transient medium of the Net.

    I think you’re right though: it does boost credibility. That said, a name is just a name: after you see anyone in print for a little while, it’s fairly easy to get a general sense of someone’s sensibilities, attitudes, demeanor, etc.

  • Eric Olsen

    Um, we were down for over an hour?

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Aaman’s your real name? OMG :-)

    Thanks LM. I believe crediblity only goes so far. There are people under psuedonyms who have far more crediblity than those with their real names. That’s because you can judge them on the facts – or not – they bring to the table.

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    Thanks, guys. It still feels a little strange. Temple, I totally agree with your statement about ultimately judging a person by the content of what they post – there are a few folks around here who post under psuedonyms that I deem quite credible, and of course the opposite is true as well.

  • Tristan

    And the TRUTH shall set you free ………..

    Truth is Truth— no matter the “label” …

    Do whatever makes you Comfortable ~~~

    but DO …..!!!!!!!

  • http://notesfromnancy.blogspot.com NancyGail

    I use my own name too, but not my full one. Simply because there is no way to be sure the people are who they say they are.

  • Smegma

    That’s all fine and well until your name begins appearing at triple x sites. Then you won’t feel so smart.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Ah, Smegma returns.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I would imagine that some triple x sites have complete categories devoted to smegma.

    Seriously though, Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti posted a story about how some BlogCritics members did get their names abused. It can happen.

    But conversely, you can never take credit for your words/work, unless you put your name on it.

  • Eric Olsen

    Smegma, who is also about ten other people here on Blogcritics comments, and who almost universally says stupid, hateful, vile, unimaginative things: shut the fuck up. Seriously. We are all really sick of you.

    Hi Lisa, my name is as all over the Internet as pretty much anyone’s can be, and I’ve never had a single problem.

    Welcome to the light, Luke; sorry iwas so freaked out Monday night.

  • Shark

    I’ve been ME and I’ve been Anonymous.

    When I wrote a weekly column (in a local alt newspaper), I received three death threats in a year. One was from a Right-Wing “Christian” terrorist group that sounded like something out of the Russian Mafia. One contained a letter smeared in humanoid poop (the good news: they included their own DNA evidence for the FBI!)

    They ALL sounded serious and crazy. I was scared for months — everytime I opened my garage door, I expected the worst.

    It ain’t fun.

    In a nation of 280,000,000 semi-insane violent nutbars, I’ll stay anonymous, thank you.

    PS: In writing, there’s a thin line between ‘credit’ and ‘blame’.

    PPS: Read the Sadi story link above for some real chills. ~Brrrrrr.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    DA or LM, either way, I’m sure your opinions will still be just as well received…or not! I don’t use my real name…I only call myself Andrew when I really screw up…and I never call myself junior!

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    Shark, I’ve read Sadi’s story, and it’s pretty damn scary, I agree. Right now, this feels like the right decision for me, but I did give it a whole lot of thought before I did it.

    Andy, I’m sure I will receive the same gentlemanly courtesy from you that I’ve become accustomed to, regardless of what name I choose to use :-)

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    Lisa, you can count on it!