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Unveiling the Mask?

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Facebook knows everything.

I blog anonymously. Mostly. A handful of you guys have friended me on Facebook or Google+ and know my “secret” identity. I’ve gone to some lengths to keep my blog separate from real life for a multitude of reasons. Blogging for an audience who doesn’t know who I am frees me to talk about anything and everything. I’m also very timid in regards to what parts of myself I put out there publicly. Once something is out on the internet it can’t be taken back.

Many of you blog transparently. You may have a pseudonym as your display name, but you don’t hide your name. You may even use pictures of yourself. Hell, some of you even post pictures of your children or other family members.

The thing I worry about with blogging transparently is employment. I have a fairly secure job right now, but nothing is guaranteed. Employers nowadays turn to Google when researching potential new-hires. Some employers require you to provide your Facebook credentials or you’re automatically disqualified from their search. I worry that the next time I’m looking for employment someone might decide not to hire me based on my political or religious (or lack thereof) beliefs, and those beliefs are plastered all over this blog. That shouldn’t have any bearing on whether or not to hire me, but it will. People are just like that. It’s for this reason that I so staunchly believed that Phil Robertson’s idiotic remarks should not have gotten him suspended. Work, politics, and religion should all be separated. My stance on immigration or marriage equality does not impact my work ethic.

Basically, I’ve been contemplating removing my bloggy mask. To a point. I’m curious, though. Have any of you who blog transparently had an issues with doing so? Have you found it helps? Does it hurt? Does it even matter at all? Maybe I’m just overly paranoid. I don’t know how much research a company would put into hiring an IT guy, but I’d hate to take the risk.

Audience Participation Time!
Do you blog anonymously? How has it affected your life, if at all? Do you have any tips should I decide to remove the trooper mask?

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Discussion

209 thoughts on “Unveiling the Mask?

  1. Don’t do it. Anonymity gives you more freedom. I censor myself like crazy and still not enough. This is a tough topic. Good luck with whatever you decide.

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    Posted by outlawmama | January 2, 2014, 1:51 pm
  2. I have a picture of myself as my avatar, but other than that I blog anonymously. I would die if my family and friends read my blog.

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    Posted by thecollegeblues | January 2, 2014, 1:54 pm
  3. I use the name Suzie, but not a single person in my life calls me that, and my last name isn’t on anything that I have with regards to social media aside from possibly an e-mail address, which I need to change. However, I use my mug shot so I’m not as careful as you…

    If you want to reveal yourself, I think you should do it piece by piece. An eye, an ear – the anticipation!!!

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    Posted by suzie81 | January 2, 2014, 1:56 pm
  4. You already know I blog semi-anonymously. I do not plan to keep it this way forever. My reasons will come out in time. Let’s just say there’s a group of people that would just love to take me down when I revealed my true self. (Name & all.)
    I plan to lift the curtain once I have fully reached my publishing goals.
    I think the questions you have to ask yourself before doing so are: “How catastrophic could the damage possibly be?” , “What if any reason am I doing this for?”, “Do the benefits outweigh the risks?” etc.
    You’re a highly intelligent guy, TD. You’ll figure it out. You have my support either way.

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    Posted by DaydreamsInWonderland | January 2, 2014, 2:00 pm
  5. Stay Anon, if only so you can rant about your co-workers :-)

    I prefer to be Anon because if a potential employer did Google my name they would assume many things about me that have no place in a work environment, and yes, that could affect my chances of being hired. No sense in adding another strike against you if there’s another way…

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    Posted by Sofia Leo | January 2, 2014, 2:02 pm
  6. While I enjoy blogs where I see pictures of people living their lives, I don’t feel as though I’m missing out on anything you have to offer by not knowing you. I’m always a bit taken back when somebody I never would suspect mentions that they’ve read my blog (i.e. coworkers). I’d think IT people are expected to be a bit quirky, aren’t they? While I share a lot, there are some things I don’t out of respect for my wife and family. I could create a whole separate blog about my 4.5 years as an undergrad that would be hilarious, but some of the hi jinx are too embarrassing to have the wife know about. Lol. Good luck.

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    Posted by donofalltrades | January 2, 2014, 2:04 pm
  7. Blogging anonymously gives you more freedom. :) The world is pretty judgmental already. :) Also , blogging [writing] is all about the inner zone , a face does not matter . :) Other day at Costco , I saw a green dino and a stromtrooper standing on the shelf happily and you know who I remembered! :)

    One of my family members told me in front of 50 others that she reads my blog every night – bad side of not blogging anonymously ; I wish I kept my identity safe !

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    Posted by Archita | January 2, 2014, 2:09 pm
  8. tough one again! stop stumping me!! i do put pictures up but i am nameless, so i guess i fee like i maintain my anonymity. i didn’t do pix in the beginning but i got comfortable with it. but i don’t work so i don’t have the same kind of reservations about that. so yeah, me here again, being no help. :)

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    Posted by icescreammama | January 2, 2014, 2:13 pm
  9. I have no idea, I read conflicting data from any paper/magazine that’s covered the topic. I’d be curious as to real life experiences. I don’t really blog anonymously on purpose, but I think people have just taken to the “rarasaur” name. I’ve personally found business contacts through this and have had job offers. On the other hand, my blog is probably rated G and doesn’t ever touch on current topics… and rarely touches on controversial topics… sooo… I don’t know.

    I do know, though, that employers google their IT guys. I’ve done reports on IT applicants a few times for large and small companies before anyone made hiring decisions.

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    Posted by rarasaur | January 2, 2014, 2:15 pm
    • Well, that’s good to know. Is there anything you HAVEN’T done?

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      Posted by Twindaddy | January 2, 2014, 2:23 pm
      • I’ve never driven a car, or swam in the ocean. :) But employment-wise, there really isn’t much I haven’t done, thanks to a very very large family who thinks people are miserable if they’re not working at least 12 hours a day. :)

        I was also gonna say… people were saying what the positive side is, and like I said– business and job contacts. And, writing gigs and such. I’ve been asked a few times to compile a list of bloggers who would be positive additions to different sites– and each time, folks like you & Sheena & Goldy were “disqualified’ on the basis of secret identities. It wouldn’t have been much money, but still. Also, when I was doing those hiring reports, I didn’t care if the blog was PG or not… I just checked to make sure it wasn’t a nazi or porn site. I looked for signs of unreasonable rage, of work-time-drunkenness, of embarrassing legally-questionable behavior, & nudity. If none of that was present, then most employers I worked with (except the lawyers) considered blogging a plus. Happy employees with an audience are good business, and blogging shows managerial/dependable skills.

        You can run yourself through Persona for a free analysis, too: http://app.persona-co.com/accounts/

        Like this

        Posted by rarasaur | January 2, 2014, 2:32 pm
  10. I am the most un-anonymous person ever, which always cracks me up because of my blog name. I did have a few fears when I was in the process of being hired at my new company because my name is very strange and therefore unique and findable.

    However, I do try to have some level of control. The name I put out on the internet is my first name and maiden name, not my married name. So when I apply to jobs, if they search for me by my married name, they find me on LinkedIn, Etsy and Pinterest…all of which are pretty harmless.

    But you’re right, what you put on the internet is what its out there forever, so you have to be absolutely okay with it.

    Like this

    Posted by starwarsanon | January 2, 2014, 2:19 pm
  11. I would post photos of my children, but then other parents would feel all sadz that their kids are not nearly as cute as mine. I’d hate to do that. Also there’s pervs.

    I’m pretty sure I don’t want my real name on my blog – a few know my first name, but that’s about it. And I’m uncomfortable with pictures of myself out there too. I admit, I like just being Alice.

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    Posted by aliceatwonderland | January 2, 2014, 2:33 pm
  12. I blog with a pseudonym – but everyone knows I’m Denise ~ I’d stay unveiled if you’re worried about work.

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    Posted by Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher | January 2, 2014, 2:34 pm
  13. TD,
    I don’t blog anonymously but I’ve given this a lot of thought. Potential employment is a valid reason for concern and I agree that it is absolute bullshit that an employer considers personal beliefs when hiring.
    For me the answer is simple: if I can’t be honest with my writing, I won’t write. If blogging transparently prevents honest writing or frustrates a writer into silence, they should stay anonymous.
    John

    Like this

    Posted by SocietyRed | January 2, 2014, 2:38 pm
  14. That’s up to you dear. When i just commented, I used my first name and only changed to a pen name when I started writing. Determined people will figure it out, regardless.

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    Posted by 1jaded1 | January 2, 2014, 2:55 pm
  15. Good questions to ask. I’m somewhere in between anonymous and not. I don’t go to great lengths hide who I am, but I don’t plaster it about either. When I posted for BBW my parents were very concerned that my story would impact future employment opportunities. I think for a one off post like that, the likelihood of someone finding it and using it against me are next to nil… and for what percentage of chance there was, it was worth it if my story helped one person.
    I don’t know. I guess I’d want to know why you feel like you should unmask yourself? And then weigh that information against the benefits of staying anonymous and see where you land.

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    Posted by djmatticus | January 2, 2014, 2:57 pm
  16. I feel like you share enough of yourself. Why should we care about the name you were born with? Is that the important part of you?

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    Posted by pouringmyartout | January 2, 2014, 3:07 pm
  17. I believe there are pros and cons to remaining anonymous. Just like anything else. There is also something to be said about associating your true identity with your art. It is really too bad that we have to worry about being hunted down by potential employers. We all have a life outside of work and we are all aware (well some of us) of how to behave at work while representing our employers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. I’m an extremely private person in general, so I do not expose much of my personal life on the internet anyway. Just me. But, I don’t really think publishing your first name is going to make much of a difference. If there is no last name associated, then it shouldn’t pose to be a problem for you. We are all well aware that we do not have much privacy anymore due to our government and the internet. Sad state of affairs.

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    Posted by Pocahontas | January 2, 2014, 3:16 pm
  18. Pros and cons, my friend. Admittedly, I like the small recognition that comes with blogging under my own name. A lot of my friends read it and I love getting texts or having them come up to me in the pub and say ‘Loved your recent post, Becky’. That is awesome. It makes the whole thing seem very worthwhile to know you’re making people laugh. HOWEVER, not being anonymous has also prevented me from writing about certain things, either because I don;t want to offend certain people or I don’t want to reveal too much about myself. Weighing it up, I suppose the latter is more important, because the more you can say on blogs the better, I believe. Sooooooooooooooo… at the end of my in-depth evaluation of this important issue, I’d say stick to anonymity. You still get nice comments, you still get the accolades, and you can still slag off your irritating, slightly pervy and way too hands-on colleague… ;)

    Like this

    Posted by beckysaysthings | January 2, 2014, 3:55 pm
  19. I prefer anonymity. There are some stalk-y people out there, and then just the troll taint stains that should die, but I never really need them to come to me in order for that service to be performed. That takes all the fun out of the hunt.

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    Posted by BrainRants | January 2, 2014, 4:00 pm
  20. I blog anonymously, and have a different email address for my professional life. Nary do the two cross.
    I think I’ve posted a few pictures of me over the two years I’ve been blogging (selfies!), but my wife is more concerned about anonymity.
    Now she’s a woman with a very low internet profile!

    When I talk to blog friends out of band, I usually use my real name, depending on how much back and forth there’s been.

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    Posted by El Guapo | January 2, 2014, 4:15 pm
  21. I mostly blog anonymously, but then again, I’m Batman.

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    Posted by idiotprufs | January 2, 2014, 4:42 pm
  22. I’ve written “unanonymously” for years. And have often wished that I had remained anonymous. I’ve been very blessed to not have troubles. But when it comes to protecting family and friends….I wish I had remained anonymous. Which I could do if I wanted to start a new blog and start from scratch.

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    Posted by Chatter Master | January 2, 2014, 5:16 pm
  23. Keep your helmet on, TD. There is no fun in thinking how you should phrase a post (or even post it at all) considering it will probably come up in the HR’s google search during your next interview. That was my main consideration, especially because there isn’t anyone else in this country with the same name as mine. It’s not impossible to find out who the anonymous blogger is, but I’m not going to make it too easy.
    Phil Robertson can get away with offending people because he’s a celebrity, and because most of his fans probably share his views to at least some extent. We don’t yet have millions of fans, unfortunately. And let’s not take Robertson as our example, anyway. :)

    Like this

    Posted by List of X | January 2, 2014, 5:36 pm
  24. I am possibly one of the least anonymous bloggers out there. I previously had my last name attached to my blog and Twitter but decided to change it. I’m very easy to find on the internet and have wondered if it would ever affect potential employment. My workplace know about my blog, but not so much the content. I have been very open about my dating life and also mental health issues so it wouldn’t shock them to read anything. My deputy CEO actually read my BBW post and congratulated me on my bravery for talking about my experiences.

    I hope that my blog would not affect any future employment opportunities for me. I do consider how much I want to reveal and why. But when you meet me in real life (or on Facebook) I’m pretty out there with what I disclose.

    Do whatever feels right for you. There is no real need to reveal your identity – but a first name will not reveal all. I like the Twindaddy pseudonym.

    I’m actually planning a post about why I don’t blog anonymously so this is a very timely post.

    Like this

    Posted by Daile | January 2, 2014, 5:59 pm
  25. I don’t blog anonymously (obviously) and I have found that it allows better connections with others. It gives my blog more strength as a platform for social issues because people can see the real face behind the ideals. I think it’s different in Australia though as regards employment, so I can’t comment on that. I can say that I have had comments on my posts about how reading my stuff and getting to know me has changed people’s views on homosexuality and gay people in general because they have seen that I am just a normal person. I think that makes it all worthwhile for me.

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    Posted by stephrogers | January 2, 2014, 6:06 pm
  26. I can’t believe that a potential job would actually ask to see your FB and if you refuse they can not hire you…wow! That’s sad. What if you were to do a password protected reveal so you can choose who knows and who doesn’t? If revealing is something you want to do.

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    Posted by behindthemaskofabuse | January 2, 2014, 6:20 pm
  27. Take it off! Wooo!!

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    Posted by merbear74 | January 2, 2014, 8:51 pm
  28. I’ve chose to blog anonymously so far and it seems to work. As you said you can share your views without the concern of upsetting personal relationships. I have spent a few hours asking myself the same questions though, why don’t I share my true self? Then thought maybe in time, but I’m not ready yet. I don’t feel like I’m hiding anything, just not sharing everything. If it feels like time to you I say go for it, but only if you’re ready.

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    Posted by JED | January 2, 2014, 9:04 pm
  29. Well… my blog is pretty damn transparent, but I absolutely do NOT tell my family or work colleagues about it. That would be a nightmare and I feel I would lose all freedom to talk about what I talk about.

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    Posted by Aussa Lorens | January 2, 2014, 10:17 pm
  30. I threw this idea around around the time I was changing my blog name and overhauling the whole thing. There’s a part of me that finds it highly irritating to blog as CK, I thought of changing it to just my first name but decided not to; there’s people I’d rather not find me if possible. CK as the gravatar is harder for them to figure out, but yeah, some bloggers refer to me as Jennie instead and it’s kind of nice to see your real name once in a while. Honestly I never thought about the employment aspect, I always forget some places do that now, which is total bullshit.

    It’s a tough call TD, and it’s really what you think is best for you. I’m liking DJ’s “Tom Dandy” idea though ;) haha

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    Posted by C.K. Hope | January 2, 2014, 10:24 pm
  31. I have absolutely had problems with employers when they stumbled across a blog. Consider it carefully.
    As for Phil Robertson – he is a public figure who announced some extremely abhorrent attitudes to the media – he is a role model for many people and deserves the punishment he (barely) received (imho).

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    Posted by sexyduchess | January 2, 2014, 10:47 pm
  32. Don’t do it dude. You don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Plus, that new grav pic is ALMOST kinda..ahem cool *cough*

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    Posted by Chowderhead | January 2, 2014, 11:11 pm
  33. Stay only opus. That’s spell check talking. I was trying to say “stay anonymous”. What is there to be gained by taking off the storm trooper mask? Nada. Folks can contact you if they want the real thing. Not everybody needs it. Plus you would reveal your brother’s alter ego … Not fair …

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    Posted by Elyse | January 2, 2014, 11:13 pm
  34. I blog with my real name. When I first started my blog (just 5 months ago) I thought it was going to be mainly about writing. But then my personality started to ooze out of my words. Now I’m all out there! I’ve worried about my last name being connected to my blog now. If I had it to do over, I’d just use my first name. None of my family knows I blog either. Not a single member. (Well except my husband, but you know what I mean). I find that gives me huge freedom in my writing. I wouldn’t/won’t change that.

    As far as the job aspect, my husband has even warned me about what I write because he knows it could even affect his job!!! How shitty is that?! Effing employers.

    Good luck. I think your gut will tell you what’s right for you.

    Like this

    Posted by bethteliho | January 3, 2014, 1:13 am
  35. For a while I used real names for everyone, because I’m pretty sure only my mom was reading anything. A few months ago I switched to using initials (for the most part), but I don’t have any qualms about putting up my real name.
    I haven’t had any problems so far, but I don’t think too many people are delving into the internet’s historical records of a college kid. So there is that.

    Regardless of your ultimate decision, I wish you luck. :)

    Like this

    Posted by E. | January 3, 2014, 6:33 am
  36. I vote for keeping that beautiful new helmet on. This blog has your family weaved in, and they should have the option to remain out of the spotlight.
    Either way, I’ll continue offering cookies to my favorite stormtrooper.

    Like this

    Posted by bardictale | January 3, 2014, 7:53 am
  37. As a bellman writing about guests I serve, I’ve always been concerned about reprisals. But I’ve been fortunate; my employers have a policy: “As long as Robert writes about his personal experiences and doesn’t bring shame to the hotel, we’re good with his writing.”

    So I understand your fears.
    Follow your gut, buddy.

    Like this

    Posted by The Hook | January 3, 2014, 10:22 am
  38. I blog very transparently, but I think it’s part of my ‘appeal’ to those people that read me. I just think the way that I write, that is filtering current events or life events through my own experiences, rather than offering definitive opinions, lends itself to a more personal blog. Personal choices. I think you should stay anonymous if you feel more comfortable that way.

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    Posted by dhonour | January 4, 2014, 11:56 am
  39. When I started blogging, it was very important to me to stay somewhat anonymous. I wasn’t so much concerned about a current or future employer but more about protecting my family from wingnuts. I was worried that at any given point, someone could take offense to something I wrote then decide to seek me out.

    Today, I blog, tweet and Facebook under my pen name. I have a separate Facebook page under my real name, but only friends and family have access to that one. And I don’t feel the least bit hindered by that.

    Like this

    Posted by Suzanne Lucas | January 4, 2014, 8:31 pm
  40. There are some good points here. I don’t hide my identity at all, however, I’m a stay at home mom, so I’m not exactly worried about the work force. I have worried for a minute or two about what the other parents at the school would think or how my kids friends parents might react, but reminded myself, I’m not looking for friends and that if the parents can’t handle me on my blog, they couldn’t handle me in real life either. I rarely talk about my blog though, unless it’s to my close friends – they already know me anyway. If I were planning on going back into the workforce, however, I may chose to hide my identity.

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    Posted by Rhonda | January 5, 2014, 11:40 am
  41. I suppose I’m semi-anonymous. My real name is here, but I don’t blog about my personal life and I don’t intend to post pictures of me or loved ones. And I don’t do Facebook and all that shit. My blog isn’t very big yet, but I think of it as a professional site. Nothing goes on there that I wouldn’t publish under my actual identity. For the purposes of really letting it rip, though, I’ve considered having an anonymous blog as well. As an exercise it might be fun for a while to just write like a raging asshole, for instance.
    Deep down I feel that if a writer is proud of what they’ve done, they should put their own name on it. It doesn’t mean you have to out other people, though, if you write about your real life. You can keep them anonymous to an extent. Unless you’re trolling, why not just use your real name?

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    Posted by Dylan Dailey | January 14, 2014, 1:29 am
    • Well, sometimes I like to write therapeutically, which means other people I know might not like what I have to say about things that have hurt me, annoyed me, or upset me.

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      Posted by Twindaddy | January 14, 2014, 6:48 am
      • I’ve had to delete a couple posts that I didn’t want certain folks to read, so that helps me dig the anonymous thing. Sometimes I blog about a class and have to choose my words carefully since a lot of people at school know I have this blog. Like when I wrote about the photoshop stuff. Reluctantly, I decided I needed to delete that post because technically the teacher and I are on decent terms and I still have to deal with her for the degree program I’m in! So, yeah, there’s a reason to be incognito if you’re going to be blasting something or someone in your real life.

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        Posted by Dylan Dailey | January 14, 2014, 11:54 am
  42. Well, here I am, late to the party. I don’t think folks can find my blog by my real name, but they can find it by the name of the Order I’m in. And because of that, I do have to be a bit careful about what I post. I have no desire for them to kick me out because they don’t like something I’ve said!

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    Posted by faithhopechocolate | January 21, 2014, 3:10 am

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