My Name Is

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.

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10 thoughts on “My Name Is

  1. You handled that question a lot better than I would have, Whiskey. I like your thoughtful response, and I suspect that many of us operate on similar principles.

    People who follow me see pictures of various rooms in my house in my cat blog all the time, mostly chronicled by my sister, who pretty much took over the thing. I had to think about how to draw the lines in that, especially when I had to convey them to someone else who was doing most of the sharing. What’s OK to share? What isn’t? We all have different lines.

    The mommy bloggers sharing every aspect of their child’s growing up remind me of a local folk singer who performs a song about her son, who she called “Mustard Butt” as a child. I’ve never met the kid, but I suspect that he’s going to grow up to have classmates call him Mustard Butt. And his mom didn’t even need a mommy blog or Facebook to permanently psychologically scar the poor kid. We’re all entitled to privacy, especially about the stuff that goes on behind closed doors.

    You don’t need to offer up the name in your wallet or a picture of your family to “lend authenticity to your voice.” You’re one of the most authentic writers I know. If a reader can’t hear that and requires identification at the door before they will listen to what you say, it’s their loss, not yours. And it’s a big loss if they don’t stop here to listen.

  2. I think your readership reflects that the “authenticity to my voice and increase my blog traffic” theory is bunk, anyway. We don’t need family photos to get what you’re telling us about your RL, or your SL. We know you’re authentic. It resonates in everything you’ve shown us.

  3. I am in complete agreement with the previous folks. Whiskey is as authentic as anyone can be. Besides, it is your humanity we relate to. You tell us of some of the universal truths both wonderful and not so much in ways that entertain and make us think.

    “Mustard Butt” :(

  4. Folks are welcome to share as much or as little as they want to, and others are welcome to set their standards for trust/authority.

    Those who get all wound up over that, well, I hope it’s fun for them and they burn up a few calories in the process.

    -ls/cm

  5. I learned the hard way that what is said on the Internet stays on the Internet. I began my Internet life just before the Web was still in its infancy. Before that, I was active on private dial-up bulletin board systems. That earlier form of online communication lent itself to more open “real-life” conversation, since everything that was posted eventually scrolled off the message base as new messages were written. This was back when floppies were … well, floppy. There was precious little room to store information, so there was no archive to worry about.

    My frame of mind remained the same when I discovered Usenet – this was when the Internet to me was Usenet and Gopher and IRC – and the advent of Lynx. I didn’t think much about “where does this get stored and for how long?”, so I continued on my merry way as I had on the BBS systems. As a result, there are messages I wrote nearly eight years ago that can still be found.

    When the reality set in, I became much more careful about what I wrote, and how I presented myself when I did so.

    Having a second identity, thanks to SL, has really allowed me to open up about a lot of things. It’s a very real identity, sometimes even more real than the one that the non-grid world sees. I write ten times as much as Marx as my RL self, and it is often more “me” than me online, even in non-SL settings.

    So I completely understand this. I’d not want to merge my RL and SL identities. It would be the easiest way to silence both of us.

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