During a recent conversation about turning some of my blog into a book, a well-meaning friend asked why I didn’t link my real name with Whiskey. She thinks revealing my real name and maybe a family photo would lend “authenticity to my voice and increase my blog traffic.” It’s a fair question. I talk about my family here and even more so on Twitter. If someone who knew me in real life came across my twitter, it wouldn’t be very difficult to figure out it was me. Why not just “be me” online?
I am me. On Twitter and here at my blog, I am able to write about how I feel- my frustrations and worries and general crankiness. It’s impossible to measure how important that is to me right now. To express myself uncensored and without concern that I might hurt my family with my honesty- that’s golden.
Anonymity allows me to talk about some difficult things without worry that talking about them will make things more difficult for my family. I deserve the right to choose anonymity, but even more than that, my family deserves the right to privacy.
If I were only speaking of myself here, and not responsible for a household full of folks who act as major characters in my writing, I might think differently about linking real me and virtual me. But I feel a responsibility to protect my kids and my niece principally, and maybe also my mom and my sister, too, if I’m being honest.
There are “mommy bloggers” who have chronicled every diaper, step, and bento lunch box of their kids, complete with pictures and gory details. These kids have no choice in the matter. They’ll grow up with their childhood recorded for the entire internet to see, whether they like it or not. There are bloggers who share every feeling as it happens, every event painfully recounted in several posts per day, right down to sharing intimate words from their loved ones.
Part of me gets this. As a writer, I understand the compulsion to write it down. The first thing a writer generally puts to paper is what’s happening around them. Journaling has been a long tradition, and blogging is a public journal. Personal bloggers like having a record of their lives, and the feedback from readers- even from strangers- is comforting in its way.
I feel that some people forget it’s a very public journal. It’s so easy to let your fingers fly and speak your mind – and then hit publish. But the consequences of public journaling are easy to dismiss. While I may only have a handful of readers now, anything I write here is Out There, for anyone and everyone and for pretty much All Time. It may not seem important now, but how can I predict the future for my kids, and the potential for embarrassment or stress that my public rantings about our difficult family life could cause them.
Sometimes blogging about tough stuff is like group therapy. Through comments and emails folks offer advice, hugs, their own stories and hardships- and we feel a sense of kinship. We feel less alone. My frustrations are validated by you, and some of you let me know that you’ve been where I am and you’ve seen the light at the end of the sewer. For someone who spends far too much time at home with her problems, these connections – however tenuous and casual- mean a lot to me.
I don’t “tell all” here. I try to tell “me.” And frankly, I didn’t intend to have a personal blog. I started a virtual world blog. But due to circumstances and my own inclination to write and share my feelings, this blog turned into a sometimes personal blog. And even my virtual world posts are colored by my real world feelings now, as they should be.
But it’s not up to me to share my family’s real world feelings. That should be their own choice. Quoting my kids on Twitter already approaches the mental line I’ve drawn between sharing and over-sharing. Naming myself here would in turn name the rest of my family, and that’s not something I’m willing to do.
The anonymity that I enjoy here allows me to be more myself than I would be if I knew my kids were reading, that my family were linked to me, that my words would forever follow us like cans tied to our feet with string. As much as my family deserves privacy, I deserve a place to blow off steam and rant about how hard things are for us right now. Anonymity allows both of these.
I harbor no illusions that a good archivist couldn’t ferret out my real life name with one hand tied behind her back. That’s generally why I still hold back, still post in general terms, and still keep the really gnarly stuff for my private journal. Anonymity can only go so far, and last so long.
There’s nothing wrong with a pen name. And I think I chose a pretty good one. Whiskey Monday suits me far better than my given name, and I believe I’ll keep it for a while longer.
Real life woman. Virtual World avatar. Likes top shelf vodka, dominant men, blues, sunsets and playing darts. Dislikes insecurity, rap, small children and clowns. I'm either behind the bar or under it.