March 15, 2005

On blogging anonymously...or not

In the interest of giving myself a fresh start on all of this, and in the hope of keeping it up on a more regular and interesting basis...

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.

2 Comments:

At 1:03 PM, March 27, 2005, Blogger Ailyn said...

very brave of you. i look forward to see what you write.
:)

 
At 6:12 PM, April 24, 2005, Blogger Al said...

I appreciate the possible downsides of attaching your legal name to your writing, but I generally think that people should do so. I generally automatically discount statements by anonymous writers as mere rumor. If you want someone to take what you say seriously, then you should be willing to attach your name to it.

 

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