…by any other name…

Sometimes, there’s a convergence between what other blogs are posting and what I’m already thinking about, but during the last week or so it’s been almost scary. There have been discussions in several places concerning how you use names on your blog, including two that cropped up just yesterday. Kathy Howe’s blog at Work It, Mom! suggests some rules to follow if you’re blogging as your “side job,” particularly being discreet and not forgetting that what you write can be traced back to you, especially if you’re using your real name. Penelope Trunk gives a few good reasons why you should blog under your real name, and her perspective is interesting considering that her name wasn’t always “Penelope Trunk.”

Jenn Satterwhite is posting an excellent “mommy blogger primer” series at BlogHer (even if you’re conflicted about that particular label, it’s got good content generally), and the topic of names comes up in Part 3 – not just whether you’ll blog under your own name, but what about using the names of your family members and other people in your personal life when you’re writing about them?

I thought about coming up with a clever pseudonym for this effort but it really wasn’t worth it, so this blog is brought to you under the name my parents gave me (it was my grandmother’s first, and my mother’s choice; I was born on Mom’s birthday, so Dad gave her the naming rights). I only use my first name here, but I submit articles under my full name, because I just think that comes across more seriously than first-name-only – and since I’ve linked to all those articles here, I guess I officially have a “public Internet presence.” (Yikes.)

But just because I’m out there in the blogozone, that doesn’t mean everyone associated with me needs to be. My son has his own Internet presence, so I don’t have a problem mentioning him by name here (but he really hasn’t been keeping it up very much since the big move and the new job – come back soon, Chris!) My husband was protected by an alias in earlier posts, but I asked him recently if he minded if I “unveiled” him – and since he said he was OK with it, I’ve given him the hybrid blog name of “Tall Paul.” (It’s accurate, and it’s what my girlfriends in my book club call him anyway.) And even though there’s enough information associated with me out there to piece together his full identity, and those of other family members if someone was so motivated – hopefully that’s not going to happen! – I will be keeping the names of his children, our extended family members, and our respective exes under wraps here. I also won’t be identifying my employer or any of my co-workers, because Kathy is totally correct about that discretion thing. On the other hand, the dog’s identity has been public for quite a while now.

The online world is a wonderful community, and at the same time a big scary place, and wanting people to know you vs. wanting to protect yourself and your real life is yet another one of those “balancing acts.”

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One comment

  1. Great post!

    I’m a believer that even if you go to TREMENDOUS lengths to conceal your true identity, someone that is determined enough WILL figure it out.