Anonymous Blogging

Let’s talk about what it means to be anonymous. Incognito. Unknown.

Sometimes anonymity enables freedom. I’ve read blogs and articles where authors remain anonymous because they don’t feel they can risk having their names associated with what they’ve written, and some of that personal writing is brave and beautiful and amazing.

Other times, going anonymous is a real wuss move. Commenting online, for instance, is a scenario in which anonymity can breed nasty behavior. People feel protected behind their screens, so they type things they’d never dream of saying out loud to someone’s face.

When I started my first blog, I did it without my name attached. I’m a professional writer, and at the time I started blogging, I did not want my clients to discover that when I was taking a break from, say, ghostwriting a book about cancer, I was posting send-ups of fashion ads and bizarro jokes about whatever popped into my head. It was all my writing, and I was proud of all of it, but I felt it was important to keep the professional writing and the fun writing entirely separate. Over time, the line between the two has blurred, and I’ve come out from behind the curtain a bit. That’s what I’ll be talking about in Portland, and I’m curious to know how others have navigated that issue.

Emily Austin posed a great question last week about boundaries: How much do you share about your friends and family in your blog? What about your co-workers? Is it OK as long as you don’t use their real names? Here’s a follow-up question:

How much do you reveal about yourself? What are the levels of self-disclosure between totally anonymous and 100% “out there,” and where do you feel comfortable?

Comments

  1. I recently began a creative writing blog. Never had the inclination before.
    Write what you know, is a method of dealing with life.
    All of that reasonance in a neat little package.

    There is alot of me, in my writings.
    I don’t worry about it.
    This is life!

    Cheers!

    1. That’s a good point, William! We reveal a lot of ourselves no matter what we write, even if we’re not talking about our hometown or favorite diner. 😉

  2. Hi there Mary Laura, I write a daily farm blog and am totally transparent. (But in a nice way!) My children were convinced that I would have stalkers but I have been met with nothing but kindness and support for my journey into sustainable farming. It is a lovely life so I suppose it attracts lovely people? Do you think that the subject matter would be part of this decision? I look forward to hearing you talk in Portland. Cecilia

    1. I do generally think that commentary tends to follow the tone we set in our writing. If you’re writing kind, sincere words about something so lovely as farming, it’s hard to imagine you’d get anything but kindness back. I’m glad it has turned out that way for you!

      I’ve also experienced friendly, supportive, funny comments on my site. (My decision to be anonymous at the beginning was less about that, though, and more about trying to make sure my clients didn’t land on my crazy humor when they Googled my name for professional writing samples.)

  3. I am anonymous and no one from my real life knows my blog exists. I talk about myself a bit, and my writing is completely honest except where my name is concerned. I like the anonymity, but I’ve had such great feedback from strangers that it would be nice to know what my friends think. However, I don’t plan on revealing my identity any time soon.

    1. You know, it’s funny how things can be perceived differently by friends/family than by strangers. In my experience, strangers accept what you show them at face value, whereas friends/family may struggle a bit to reconcile it with what *they* know of you. Like, if your grandmother reads your blog about your fondness for drag-racing and knife-swallowing and burlesque-performing, but she still thinks of you as her sweet little 8-year-old baby, she may have a hard time making the leap from one thing to the other; whereas a stranger might read it and just think, “Oh, how interesting and creative.”

      1. I completely agree! I think this is why I don’t share my writing. Whenever I do, all I can focus on is how or if they are judging me, if they are embarrassed or proud. I’m much more satisfied with the accolades of strangers. Great post by the way. 🙂

  4. Great article. To answer the question about friends and family. I try not to reveal too much but I do talk about them. I don’t feel it is crossing a line. I discuss it first. When I write about myself, I am an open book. I have had an interesting, sad, frightening childhood and the most beautiful, happy, amazing marriage for thirty years with three wonderful children. No boundaries on me.

  5. Can’t be afraid all my life… My first blog, only blog, still going blog was my step out behind a curtain of shame and fear of reprisal and even though it’s an insanely small blog with a thimble-full cadre of readers, it has shown me that 1) I am not alone 2) all of what and how we live is a construct of ego and 3) there are people on this planet who don’t know who Jesus is, so my odds of relative anonymity, despite full disclosure tells me more: that 1) no one really cares even though they read me and 2) what I say is relatively benign and inocuous in the grander scheme. These points are both liberating and vexing because while I’d love to be taken seriously as a writer, I will absolutely stab myself with crayons if I ever had to appear on the “Today” show to promote my book…. Life is too short… We must speak what needs to be said and then move on, because everyone else does too… I dig you, ML Philpott.

    1. Hey Molly! It seems like you’ve really embraced your site as sort of an “online journal.” I’d venture to say it doesn’t matter how many followers/readers it has if it serves that purpose well for you. (And judging by your impressive continued dedication to writing there as YOU, I’d say it does?) Thanks for chiming in!

  6. When I actually put myself out there, as I have done posting about my family from time to time, that’s when I get the most heartfelt responses. I recently posted about my brother who died a couple of weeks ago. That was my best way of dealing with it. I went out on a limb and sent the link to my colleagues and I was touched by their responses. I am who I am… for better or worse. Guess we are all just scared by who we are sometimes?

    1. Oh, so sorry to hear about your brother. I do believe there’s something to be said for having your thoughts and feelings “witnessed” by others — and writing/posting online can be a way to do that, once you find your comfort zone.

  7. This is something that I really struggle with. I’m not hidden on my blog, I’m right out there in the open, and I think that is sometimes really scary! Especially because I write about mental health, our military life and other things that are extremely personal and controversial. I’m careful not to mention my family members or co-workers by name though. When I read blogs, I feel much more connected to the author and the content when I know who is writing.

  8. I find this interesting. I’m the founder and head of a non profit. With that comes a certain level of scrutiny. Especially in this ever connected world. I considered the idea of writing anonymously but I felt it was counter productive to my message of personal integrity, service, and excellence.

    I should have the integrity to back up anything I write and post.
    I stand behind anything I write which is meant to help others. Even if that hurts their feelings or highlights flaws in them and myself.
    I take pride in whatever I produce and post because excellence is my goal. And with that drive comes the confidence to attach my name.

    I’m willing to change names of friends and family but I firmly stand behind attaching my name to my content. Only in situations where I’m paid to be a ghost writer do I not post my name. I can definitely see how this could affect those with close ties to loved ones. Our blogs definitely have far reaching effects on them as well.

  9. I currently blog under the name Aussie Mummy, but I share pics and feature a photo in my sidebar. So I’m debating ditching the anonymous thing

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