On blogging pseudononymously

Like it says on the sidebar, I try to keep things “more or less” anonymous around here. On the other hand, most of the handful of people who read and comment regularly are also people who know me in real life, so it’s not exactly anonymous at all…

I’ve been thinking about this lately — not just because the whole question of keeping anonymous vs. being an “out” blogger recently came up at a couple of the blogs I read, but also because I’ve been thinking about how/why I blog and whether I want to change things up a little.

This post (and the comment thread) from a few days ago at Historiann provides a pretty good overview of why many academic bloggers go to great lengths to protect their anonymity — both for job-related reasons and for personal safety reasons. And although I haven’t had issues with trolls or haters around here, and although any thoughts of tenure are a long way off for me, I can see the benefits of keeping off the radar of both the crazies and the future employers. That’s exactly why I’d rather not have my real life name linked to this blog with an easy google search.

Having said that, though, I don’t go to great lengths to ensure that I cannot be traced through this space. I talk about places I’ve been. I hint at some of the research I do. I post pictures — which, given available biometric scanning technology, is alone enough to link me to the blog if anyone with the means and the desire wished to do so. I also freely share my blog with people I know in real life, and I write knowing that some of them (including my mom & dad) read it.

So why not just blog under my real name? For me it comes down to a distinction (however fuzzy) between an online space that is personal and one that is professional. The way I use this blog is probably best described as something between a conversation with myself and a story I’m telling to anyone who cares to listen. Sure, it’s on the self-indulgent side and sometimes a bit tedious, but no one is forced to read it.

In other words, I treat this blog a bit like a creative nonfiction free-writing zone. It allows me to reflect on my life in a kind of running narrative that is equal parts stream of consciousness, historical record and pure writing practice. It doesn’t really have any other point, and I’m not super motivated to find a point either.

I might change how I blog some day — for example, I do want to start to blog more about my work, especially as I start reading for my comprehensives this spring. So although at this point I’d rather not have the hassle and effort of trying to keep up a professional online presence linked to my real name, I’m okay with people connecting to my blog through research interests, and I’m also okay with not keeping a completely impenetrable anonymous presence here (I’m pretty sure that’s impossible anyways, and I write under that assumption).

And that is fine for now.

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