Someone asked me on Twitter why I blog under my own name. (Hi Jane!) It’s a good question. The short answer is “a lot of reasons.”
First the caveat: I don’t always blog under my own name. I have a pseudonymous mommy blog, now on hiatus, to which I posted for four years, usually more than once a week, and developed a daily readership in the dozens, mostly bloggers I read, who wrote under pseudonyms, but whom I came to know personally, often in the flesh. I used a pseudonym there for a couple of reasons. One is that I wanted to keep my private life private, in the sense that someone googling me wouldn’t have the gory but hilarious story of my daughter’s birth come up as the first hit. Another reason is that I was writing about another human being, my daughter, and she never asked to be a public figure. So I made a silo, where I could hang out with other moms, talking about bodily functions and swapping martini recipes, while maintaining a public face that held to a different standard of decorum.
Note I’ve said “pseudonymous,” rather than anonymous. I have never ever written anything on that blog that would rain misery down upon my world if I was somehow outed from that space. The internet is never really anonymous–someone can always figure out who you are, and in fact, someone from my past who knew me IRL totally figured me out when she happened upon my blog.
So I’ve always considered blogging a public act. On this blog, “Aimée Morrison” is really me, in the sense that I write all the posts, and fully hew to the opinions I share here, really want to know the answers to the questions that I ask, really have the experiences I relate. I am, also, a natural shit disturber with few boundaries on information sharing, so it doesn’t feel particularly out of character to make public statements about the shell game that is grad school, about how my students need to suck it up and read the textbook, to share pictures of myself looking like death warmed over. To hide that stuff behind a pseudonym, I feel, would be like saying I’m ashamed of those ideas (or pictures) or that there is something taboo or illicit about them. I don’t think so. I think the academy would really benefit from more people telling it how they actually see it, that we would all become stronger for sharing our weaknesses and finding them common.
I think blogging is valuable. And part of the way I put my money where my mouth is is by signing my name to it, and putting it on my CV, my bio.
Are there people who think that blogging is a waste of time and that blogging makes me less of a scholar simply by dint of my participation in this sphere? Yup. Are there people who find the opinions I express here annoying, and think less of me for sharing them? Probably. Oh well. People used to think that writing stuff down rather than memorizing it was the end of the world, too. But all the major higher ed news sources feature blogs now. In digital humanities, some of the best scholarship, networking, and pedagogy happens through blogs. More and more people are signing their names to their blogs–including our wonderful guest contributors here–and finding that good things follow.
I have tenure, and I work in new media. Both of these factors make it both easier and more attractive to use my real name to blog. And of course, there are things I don’t say, stuff that I save for after-work drinks with my meat-space network, a much tighter, more discreet, and un-archived discussion space. Some of these things I don’t say because, like writing about my daughter, they expose an individual person to a kind of publicity they didn’t ask for. And because my version of events might not be theirs. Some of these things I don’t say because they have to do with issues in my employment that are confidential, or that have a process associated with them that is not helped by internet publication. Some things I don’t say, frankly, because they reflect so poorly on me that I’d prefer you not know. The trick I aim to perform is always to be specific enough to say something that is actually true and ponderable at the level of engaged conversation, without endangering anyone’s privacy or process or turning this space into a bully pulpit where I get to shout louder than the people I might disagree with.
So if you want to blog, think about using your own name. You will never be anonymous, no matter how hard you try, and it’s foolhardy to write as though you are. Good things might flow into your life from signing your name to your writing online. Oh — and use a real photo of yourself as your avatar, so I can recognize you when I see you across the crowded beer tent at Congress.
|My name is Aimée Morrison and my giant thumb approves this message.|