Blogging identities: Who are you?

hello its gemmaWho read your first blog post? Did you set up a blog and herald the arrival to family and friends, or did you quietly post, just you and the internet, no need to mind your “p’s and q’s”? Did you use your name or go for something more anonymous?

Blogs grow. The internet seeks to find you. Audiences get bigger and become more complex. Other bloggers, friends, family, colleagues, employers anyone googling a subject you’ve written about. Does that influence what you share?

Being able to share thoughts and feelings in the form of a cathartic post, is one of the bonus of blogging. It is a good way to re-order feelings, find perspective. Hell, some days it is just good to ‘brain dump’. The blogging community is excellent at reminding you that you are not alone.

The flip side is, there are many examples of both ranting and innocuous posts of which someone, somewhere, reads, interprets their way and objects, to a less or greater degree. Of course, some things are more tricky to blog about. Subjects that involve other people, divorce for example.

Effectively, what ever you put out on the internet exists to bite your bum. It is on the internet and it has your name attached to it. Or how much of your name you have attached to it. For me that’s not my full name.

A mum at the school gate, asked me if I have a blog. She saw my photo in a blogging magazine. I’m in a crowd and notable because I’m holding my head at the angle of someone with a severely cricked neck, I look peculiar and therefore more obvious. “Yes” I admit “it’s nothing much” I don’t tell her the name and switch subject. Another mum overhearing this, goes home and googles me.

I do my best to separate my social media self and my original self. Facebook groups and social events mean that it’s not a secret but I try to keep my family name out of the public domain. I feel that I owe it to my son, to respect his privacy by not using his name or my full name. Am I fighting a losing battle?

It is almost impossible for identities not to overlap, without asking accounts seem to link up and I am served up as a suggestion by LinkedIn or Facebook. I am not God of my own personal SEO destiny. Google is. In a bunker in California a computing algorithm decides how much of me appears. While in a terrace house in the UK, I attempt to tidy up after algorithms, closing loop holes through which I might appear.

A few days later the second mum tells me she read my blog and that she is sorry I am not happy (cathartic post). How did she find the blog! Then I realise the post she is referring to made reference to my dislike of school. Awkward.

These days, I am one of a dwindling number of bloggers who doesn’t use their family name on their blog and social media, should I give up and be a bit more me? Are you?

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About Gemma M

Gemma blogs at Helloitsgemma, see link below
She is an older not wiser, mother of one small boy. Gemma always has painted toe nails and enjoys cake.

19 Comments

  1. 24 September 2014 / 09:25

    I originally set up my blog to document my daughters life but then as I got into writing and went through some hard times I found myself wanting to ramble on but I couldn’t, as I’d originally told my family about my blog, out of fear of them reading it and taking it the wrong way!
    I don’t think I’d ever go anonymous but I sometimes wish id just kept it for people of the blogging world xx

    • Gemma
      Author
      07 October 2014 / 12:46

      blogging is a wonderful outlet and the community is very supportive, but completely agree it is so hard when those close to you might interpret it in a way you didn’t intend. Hope times are happier now.

  2. 24 September 2014 / 10:08

    No, don’t give up! What you share is thoughtful and often inspirational,
    Unless we totally remove ourself from social media and blogs we will create a footprint which is then out of our control. I use the rule of thumb of “would I say that to most people?” If my answer is yes, then I write it, but then I’m not one to bother about conventions.

    • Gemma
      Author
      07 October 2014 / 12:46

      Great rule of thumb Monika!

  3. 24 September 2014 / 14:54

    It’s rare that I tell people about my blog for fear of boasting, and maybe a little of that notion that it’s easier to give a presentation to a room full of people you don’t know, rather than one filled with friends and family. And for what it’s worth, I don’t use my daughter’s name online either.

    • Gemma
      Author
      07 October 2014 / 12:47

      I know that feeling Trista – not everyone ‘gets’ blogging.

  4. 25 September 2014 / 15:08

    This is really thought provoking. I have to admit I often hold back on what I write about because i know ‘real life’ people are reading it and I’d never hear the end of it if I wrote about certain situations. I’ve been tempted on several occasions to set up a completely anonymous blog for those posts that I need to get off my chest but can’t. But because of the automatic linking up of various accounts (and me not being very technically minded) i wondered how long it would be before I logged in and blogged with my normal account so I haven’t bothered. I just have to keep my rants to myself for now. x

    • Gemma
      Author
      07 October 2014 / 12:48

      I spent hours trying to work out ways to un-link accounts! Why is it so difficult??

  5. 29 September 2014 / 13:34

    This is a really interesting subject and one I often debate with myself. I don’t use the ‘real’ names of either myself, or my husband and child – but I don’t go to any extreme methods of hiding the fact I have a blog from friends & family. I guess I just have to give thought to personal posts before I hit publish – once it’s on the Internet it’s there forever for all to see.

    • Gemma
      Author
      07 October 2014 / 12:49

      It is there forever, but I guess but having two identities gives you a step away.

  6. 30 September 2014 / 13:02

    My answer to your question is exactly what Cherry wrote above! I started blogging when no one used his or her real/legal name. We all had pen names. That being said everyone in my real life knows who I am online and is encouraged to read what I write on my blog. Not that many irl people bother to read it, so I write what I want there. It’s a win-win for all of us.

    • Gemma
      Author
      07 October 2014 / 12:50

      It has changed hasn’t it, when I started blogging there were many less ‘names’.
      Love a win-win!

  7. 06 October 2014 / 14:44

    I have two blogs, one open about my grief and one more anonymous abou my life as a parent. I’ve recently put my photo on the second blog as it was very hard to keep it anonymous so in the end I thought why bother trying. I don’t promote my second blog to family and friends but I wouldn’t care if they found it. I like to remind myself that yes I might write about difficult or personal things but this is life! We’re all going through something and it’s often the hard stuff that is more necessary to share. Great post!

    • Gemma
      Author
      07 October 2014 / 12:56

      It is life and sharing the hard stuff is so important.

  8. 10 October 2014 / 14:35

    I try to keep myself, not anonymous, but vague enough not to be recognised. However, just in case, I usually keep any ranty posts about my life out of my blog and take it out on my husband instead haha, just incase someone saw it and could take offence!

    Emma | frillsanddoodads.com

  9. 15 October 2014 / 10:10

    This was a really interesting and reassuring read. I’ve only just started out blogging and haven’t told ANYONE as yet. I have a couple of friends who are very successful bloggers, so when I’ve got a few more posts under my belt I may ask them to cast their eye over it, but for the moment it is definitely “just me and the internet” and anyone who stumbles cross it (a couple have already, yay!).

    I have chosen to be anonymous as, by the nature of of ‘step-parenting’, it’s not my child I’m writing about.

  10. 17 October 2014 / 16:38

    There’s a fine line between having a place to mind dump and actually sharing your blog work and achievements with the people around you. From my pov discussing our fertility journey was a huge “thing” among our family and friends and I at times I wish mine was anonymous so that I wasn’t so restricted in my writing so as not to offend anyone. I’m an open book and my blog needed to reflect that- although I hope very much that my boss never finds it! x