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?

Making Friends Online

About a dozen years ago, I lived in San Francisco. I loved music, and had a list of upcoming bands that I planned to see in the sidebar of my blog. One day I posted about a show that I was going to see, and that I wished I had someone to go with me. As it turned out, one of my readers lived in San Francisco and also wanted to see that show, and told me in the comments. We’d been following each other’s blogs, but had never met in person before. We wound up not only seeing that show, but becoming great friends, thanks to the common interest we discovered through our blogs.

Have you ever made a friend — either in person or just online — through the comments on a blog?