How do I feel about blogging under my own name?
I have mixed emotions.
I gather that most people blog anonymously to keep from being fired from their jobs. As I’m my own employer, I never had that to worry about, so I chose to use my own name.
Recently two outstanding local bloggers, in fact the authors of the two local blogs I read and enjoy most, came out very publicly with face-revealing posts telling their real names. More power to these guys and their blogs, and to my city’s outstanding local blog community. But there’s something that makes me feel differently about a blogger’s choice to reveal the face and name behind the blog — I’m a woman.
I started this blog as a marketing tool, so I used my real name. I’m also notoriously bad with titles, and since this is a personal blog (despite its origins) I really didn’t know what else I’d call my blog other than what I called it.
Which so far has been scary only once. I had a reader who seemed to have problems understanding the boundaries of our relationship. To me, he was a nice person who commented on my blog. To him, I seemed worthy of receiving long personal emails and passwords to protected parts of his blog. When he mentioned the possibility of us meeting some day, I became really frightened. I had trouble sleeping for a few nights. I locked the doors. I asked friends what to do.
A public online identity is a different thing to a woman who lives alone.
I live on a residential street with neighbors on all sides. Streetlights light my road. And should someone ever try to break in, I am not without defense. But if I had my blog to do all over again, I’m not sure I’d advertise who I am. So far I have never been in any real danger, but my fear and distress over one situation were very real. When an unknown person starts making strange overtures, the mind panics and the nights can get very long.
Back when I was making choices about starting my blog, I wish I’d considered my safety and my peace of mind. I wish I’d thought about how easily one might find my address in the phone book. I wish I’d thought about my name, face, profession and even my home address being open to anyone with a modem and a phone book.
Fellow female bloggers (and really, all women who live alone), consider an unlisted phone number. Consider what information about you is readily available online, and what people might do with that information. Consider how you are protected or unprotected. And make a decision that takes everything into account.