To Be Me Or Not To Be Me? Is That A Question?

This post started out as a comment on some musings by The Science Goddess about male vs. female tendencies to use pseudonyms on blogs.

Here’s my coming out speech from the Blogger platform…

Choosing between a pseudonym and a real nym involves some complex thinking, but I’m not sure it’s anything but an emotional decision.

Writing as Repairman, although I still exercised enough restraint to remain “professional,” allowed me the belief that if I came on a little strong, there would be no consequences outside of civil, or at worst, flaming disagreement on the net. Then I spotted a local stalker who stumbled on my blog and put two and two together with local events and news. I realized that, even for a restrained anonymous blogger, anonymity is largely an illusion, and the only person being fooled is the blogger.

The next thoughts are reflective, and you think, “Is what I have to say worth saying if I attach my name and reputation to it?” That’s where the rubber meets the road, because the answer is, if you’re going to blog under your own name, you need to follow the same rules of civility that apply in face-to-face interactions with both people you know and people you don’t know.

So I’m thinking that the pen name versus real name question can be answered by deciding the purpose of your blog. If you’re into satire and criticism, or humor at the expense of your doughball local educators, there’s no doubt that you need a pseudonym. If your purpose is to discuss education issues and comment on life in general, and you’re not afraid of people pointing at you and laughing at your thoughts, your real name bespeaks belief in your own words and vouches for your integrity.

I get the urge now and then to rip someone a new one (I was born and raised a Brooklyn boy, after all), but for that I would need to be someone else, immune to the hurt and injury I may do to the victim. But that’s not my blogging purpose, even though I sometimes feel the pull to stray into that minefield. (But all bets are off if someone engages me on my own turf, and abuses truth and logic.)

Lest some of my blogging friends feel I am disapproving of anonymity, let me say that I dearly love to read the satires and the reports of unnamed education clowns. That’s entertainment for me and catharsis for the writer. Go for it. But protect yourself.

If you find yourself leaning mostly toward “non-fiction,” however, a real name makes you think twice about what you say, and that makes what you have to say better.

I do know of bloggers who have multiple blogs that serve their various personas. Maybe that’s the ticket. But real name or not, remember that nothing is ever truly anonymous on the web, and it never goes away. (The Science Goddess is the first blogger who made me aware of that fact.) l

Now, let me ask one more question here…does the predominance of female use of pseudonyms (according to The Science Goddess) mean that women are more snarky – in general – than men? 😀 (Oooh, I can already feel the flames!)

From MW Webster’s Collegiate…

Main Entry:snarky
Pronunciation:*sn*r-k*
Function:adjective
Etymology:dialect snark to annoy, perhaps alteration of nark to irritate
Date:1906

1 : CROTCHETY, SNAPPISH
2 : sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner *snarky lyrics*
-snark£i£ly \-k*-l*\ adverb

PS: You’ll enjoy this post by Miss A on Blogging Professional Development…

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8 thoughts on “To Be Me Or Not To Be Me? Is That A Question?

  1. As you well know, I’ve done the whole staying anonymous thing for a while, and you know what? It never works. Not only because someone always puts two and two together eventually, but also because you actually start getting involved in the conversations in the comments, and when you do that, you develop a relationship with other people in those conversations, and thus, they’ll eventually know what your name is, so the cat’s out of the bag.

    I’m going to read up on Science Goddess, but this was well written.

    Good observation on the relationship angle, Jose. And thanks for the compliment. 🙂 –Hugh

  2. I have been thinking so much about this issue- it’s like you read my mind! As an anonymous blogger, I do fool myself into thinking that my identity is unknown to many, especially those who I work with. And while I do enjoy a good rant, I try not to make up details about others…not that I’m always nice.

    Anyway, thank you for giving me a well thought out way to think about this.

    And thanks for the vote!!

    You’re welcome, Mimi. Voting your blog “most humorous” was easy, considering my keyboard is so vulnerable to coffee spills in the midst of reading one of your posts that feature the unique cast of characters from your school. 🙂 –Hugh

  3. From my Oxford Concise English Dictionary:

    snarky, adj. (-ier, -iest) N. American informal: sharply critical. — Origin C20: from dial. verb snark ‘snore, snort’, ‘find fault’.

    Snark away, Hugh.

    You caught the irony in my last question, Tom. Thanks for the encouragement! 😉 –Hugh

  4. First of all—your picture for this post is creeping me out. It’s like Micky and Minnie Head Soup. 🙂

    I think many posts on edublogs by men are just as snarky as those by women, but it almost comes across as a dare. Men who blog under their own names also name their “enemies.” They call out the people or policies they take issue with.

    Maybe it’s a case where we’re waiting to see what happens with (white) men. If they can blog without repercussions under their own names, perhaps the rest of us can, too.

    Didn’t mean to spook you with the Mickey Mouse Drama Masks…I chose them for their irony and implied ambivalence (at least from my point of view). In any case, the whole question is just drama to me, ergo the masks. (I don’t think Minnie is represented…no bright bows in the mouse hair.)

    As far as issues and combativeness goes, I feel pretty free since I’m retired, drawing Public Employees Retirement, Social Security, and my own 403b. I’m financially independent (on a modest scale) and I don’t have to kow-tow to anyone. But that doesn’t allow me the leeway to blather irresponsibly on the internet. I still have a professional reputation to maintain, however popular or unpopular. (I’ll be way unpopular with teachers who punish kids via bad grades that do not reflect good assessment.)

    Bloggers who have to contend with employers do not have the freedom I enjoy. Sad, but true…

    Solution? Become independent? Consult? Write? Self-publish? Is this the beginning of another conversation? –Hugh

  5. I feel you, Repairman. I have debated the very issue about which you post. I don’t really have any suggestions for you, other than to say that it is an issue about which many of us muse.:)

  6. Hugh,

    I struggled with this very issue this morning as I wrote a post about “The Wackness in Education” that includes a critical “Open Letter to The System.” On one hand, it has to be said. On the other hand “The System” pays my bills. It’s a tough line to walk.

    I sometimes wish I had a pseudonym, especially after reading Mimi’s blog, because so many of my BEST stories cannot be told for “Dooced” reasons.

    The good thing and bad thing about my blog is that my name and reputation is attached to everything I write. I spend a lot of time really figuring out my take on issues because future employers and prospective clients can read everything.

    The hard part is that I enjoy being snarky, and sadly, every post gets the snark-censor. Some day, I’d love to share the uncensored first-draft versions…

    Time to write a book under a pseudonym perhaps?

    Rebecca, I wish the snark-censor would work a little harder for me! 🙂

    If you ever do the pseudonymous book, email me and I’ll buy a copy.

    Another thought…go to a different blogging platform so you can begin a new blog with a new name. Yes, there’s a bit of a learning curve to climb, but after one platform is mastered, the others fall in line quickly. But you will be tempted to reach out to your compatriots privately and encourage them to read the new blog. And sooner or later, Poor Richard’s maxim about secrecy (paraphrased) will be proven: “Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”

    If I were to build a no-holds barred, butt-kicking blog, I’d never tell anyone. But I think it would be tough to do since I’m a person who enjoys authentic relationships. I’d have a tough time not reaching out to a kindred soul.

    I’m off to read your post! I did check my email at verizon central while in central Oregon visiting my son, but this comment didn’t surface until I came home today, hence the tardy acknowledgment. –Hugh

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