Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Question of Anonymity

I am thinking about 'coming out' on my blog--that is, deciding to stop being anonymous and go ahead and write with my name attributed to the words here. It's only a recent consideration, so I don't know yet what I'll decide. (And I know my conspiracy-theory-prone brother will not be pleased that I'm even thinking about this!)

I noticed, however, that it was very difficult for me to write anything on my blog over this past year as I got deeper and deeper into my professional roles as an associate minister and as a teacher. I found that much of what was consuming my thoughts and energies had to be off-limits from blogging. Mostly because I wanted to continue to protect my anonymity--not because anything I wanted to write would reveal something about my students or congregation.

I'm wondering if I went public, if I would find it easier to write? Or more difficult?

I'd be interested to know what others' experiences with this has been. Especially if you've made the transition from anonymity to public identity.

11 comments:

mbg said...

This is just my experience, but I stopped posting on my blog as soon as someone else "outed" me. Now when you google my name, you can figure your way to my blog. After that happened, I couldn't write anything without picturing future students, potential employers, creepy ex-employees or ex-whatevers, etc. googling me up and finding too much personal information than I'd really want them to have, or over-analyzing something I wrote. I developed an internalized webopticon. or something.
I'm also a little paranoid. Stalkers, pedophiles, etc.

I guess I'm a little selfish, because I would be sad if you didn't feel as free to post your thoughts because you were thinking of who would read them. I love your blog.

Anyway, that's my two cents.
All the best, Melissa

Katherine said...

I have never presumed anonymity. For a while I had my full name on my blog, but then I decided I wanted to go back to being less-googleable. (thought a recent comment changed that). It's a mixed bag. I've always valued the accountability of being transparent; at first, my parents were my accountability plants, and then now of course my congregation (though I am relatively sure none of them read it, at least not regularly). I just know that I can never say anything I wouldn't say in front of them. That means a lot of things that I really wish I could write about have to be processed elsewhere. I talk about church so rarely you'd almost miss that I'm a pastor. Sometimes I wish I had the relative freedom of an anonymous blog. But more or less I'm fine with being "out."

Amy said...

This is tricky. I don't presume anonymity, but I do try to make it a little difficult for people to google me. I list my city and first name, but I definately leave my partner's name and kid's names off the site.

I recently took my church's site off my links too. I don't want my site to come up when someone googles my infamous congregation.

I do go back and forth about the kid pictures on the site. Which is another reason not to put any more specific info on the blog. I want those that know me to see the pictures, and those that don't know me to not know how to find my kids.

And, some things are just not to be blogged about on a site where people can google you.

Songbird said...

I'm more pseudonymous than anonymous, although it's much harder to get from "real me" to Songbird than to go in the other direction. I think it takes some serious courage to blog with your full name on the site. There are definitely things I will not explore on mine for that reason; I simply have or find other outlets for that material.

Lorna (see through faith) said...

I don't write anonymously - and that, among other things, has probably cost me my ministry because my church don't get it ... sigh

I skippped over here to say something else though

you wrote (over at Melissa's) "Perceiving a need (for better representation, for justice, or for something as mundane as the need for food on the table) doesn't mean that you're necessarily the one to fill that need. The confusion of those two things too often lead to burn out."

and that's helped me a LOT ... thank you :)

Tripp Hudgins said...

I tried the anonymous thing for a while. It did not take. This is how I see it: Blogs are public. Ministry is public. You may find that your personal life is not appropriate to place on your blog, and that's okay. I don't post about my marriage very often. That's an agreement that my wife and I came to. It's been fine.

My congregations have found the blogging intriguing. Members stop by and post or debate. It's been good. Again, I don't post anything that I would not be willing to share in a conversation with one of them.

I am comfortable with some transparency...okay, a lot of transparency. How much are you comfortable with?

Good luck in your decision. Again, I have found it rewarding.

Alex said...

I blog under my name. I assume that anyone can figure out most bloggers (I have figured out four or five quite easily and the bloggers were surprised that I could, with minimal clues...) So, it is freeing to not try and keep secrets. My experience only...

mompriest said...

I blog anonymously. I prefer it that way. I like the idea of having this alter ego through which I can express myself but maintains some boundaries around who I am. Plus I've posted a lot about discerning call and did not want folks in my area or anyone else to know who was really musing on that issue and process. Mostly to protect the congregation and enable our work to move forward with out fear of loss or change.

Maybe folks have figured me out, but if so, I don't know about it. I have pondered ending this blog and creating a new one with full disclosure. But it would be a very differnt blog with a different focus and intent. Less personal, more issue and topic oriented.

Best wishes with your pondering. No "right" answer here, just what do you want with and from your blog?

Rev Dr Mom said...

My blog would be of a very different sort if it were not anonymous. Some of my readers do know who I am, but I don't want my congregation or my boss reading my current blog.

I have considered starting a second blog using my real name, but it would be about different things.

srf said...

Not being a blogger myself, I can't speak from experience, but a good friend of mine who is a div school professor maintains two blogs, one anonymous and one using her real name. She uses the public one as a venue for a kind of publishing, writing about topics she is interested in, but hasn't had time to publish articles about. She likes that these pieces come up when you google her. And it gives her students and other folks that she works with access to some of her thoughts on topics that are important to them and to her. The anonymous one she uses more like a journal, especially for family and friends to keep in touch with what's going on with her life. Maybe such a compromise would work for you too? Though I can imagine maintainint two blogs could be a little time consuming.

John said...

I use a pseudonym. My my district superintendent knows about my blog, and several pastors in positions of authority over me. And lots of people at my seminary and past churches.

I must always write with the assumption that everything is being read by everyone in my life. In a way, this distinguishes between myself and my online persona; in another way, it calls for me to be perfected in love in all dimensions of my life -- living as though I have no secrets from anyone.