My pseudonymity

I’m choosing to weigh in on the latest pseudonym controversies just now, even though the peak rage has already passed. Besides, I know it will rise again, as soon as NatGeo Blogs officially dumps their pseudonymous bloggers, or when another network goes ape-shit on the this deceitful bunch, or when one of our fabulous pseudonymous sci-bloggers gets raked across the coals for cowardly hiding behind their pseud. So I figure I’m ahead of the curve in that regard (just go with it). Anyways, I’ve got a slightly different beef on which to chew, but more on that in a moment.

First, why do I blog pseudonymously? After all, people would take this blog more seriously if I used my *real* name, right? I mean, I could be a scary, deceitful, mischievous, BAD person behind this mysterious “Dr. O” shield!! No matter, most the people who read this blog don’t care that I blog pseudonymously. In fact, some readers have come to sort of, well, KNOW “Dr. O”. You could even say it’s become a household name (well, in a couple of households…I think…oh, who am I kidding, not even in my own household).

But seriously, a lot of younger peeps out there read this blog and far more superior ones like it for intel on what it’s like to be a scientist with a family, balancing job searches and pregnancy, combining a career in academic research with being a mom and wife. And, if it’s not clearly obvious, divulging my in-real-life identity could seriously compromise my recently revived tenure-track job search (especially when I spend most of my time blogging about how I don’t let my research take away from my family.) SOOO, I guess I don’t really care what other people think of “Dr. O”.

Except I do. A little bit, anyways. A few months ago, a #sci-mom movement, intended to better engage the mommy blogging and sciblogging communities, gained some traction. I thought “hey, why don’t I try and take this on, for realzzz!?!?”. I wrote up a fabulous post, got my pseudo-blogging self registered on TMB, and started perusing/commenting on the Mom Blogs. I moved forward full steam, thinking this was the best idea since sliced bread.

But when I tried to chat with some of the non-pseudonymous mommy bloggers out there, I sort of got the cold shoulder. I know, some (most?) of this is just due to the fact they don’t know “Dr. O” yet (it did take more than a few months to build the “Dr. O” name up in the sci-blogging community). Though I sort of wonder if they ever will. Can they, will they ever trust Dr. O, or will I always come across like a unscrupulous blogging goon?

I sometimes ponder coming out and blogging under my *real* name, but then I wake up and realize what a spectacularly STUPID idea that would be right now. So Dr. O it is, for now at least. I don’t know that Dr. O will ever be taken seriously in the mommy blogging community, but I’d like to keep trying, if only to pick up a few new mommy peeps out there. Maybe I’ll earn a couple mommy bloggy friends? Maybe before Monkey is all growed up and I’m a sci-grandma blogger? We’ll see…

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11 thoughts on “My pseudonymity

  1. I don’t get the whole we MUST know your full name thing. I mean I don’t do that in real life. I don’t walk into a restaurant and announce my full name and address before asking for a table or announce my full name and title before asking a question at a seminar. When I talk babies with other women at the park we don’t exchange full names and job histories, yet I still find those conversations useful and enjoyable. To me reading your blog or others is that kind of casual interaction. I don’t need to know exactly who you are to find what you are saying useful or enjoyable.

  2. I think too many people conflate pseudonymity with anonymity – that you’re writing and blogging from under a rock somewhere – which of course couldn’t be further from the truth. I have no problem with individuals who block anonymous commenters (although I myself choose to allow them), because that really can lead to quite a bit of mischief. But pseudonyms are very different. To me, they are just as real as the people I know in real life, and in some cases they’re on par with some of my closest real-life friendships.

  3. I’ve thought about “coming out” … but then again, I have the freedom to write and express how I feel about a situation in ways that I probably couldn’t do without having someone find me out and automatically labeling me a bitch. If you’re calling me a bitch because I’m venting, and I’m not even divulging names, institutions or labs … then there’s something seriously wrong. I’ve “come out” to a couple of people, people I trust, and it’s been wonderful, they know the face behind the blog. But I know, especially in my scientific circles, that many people don’t blog, comment or tweet and aren’t really in tune with the benefits and the community this creates. And for fear of being judged a slacker, or whatever, I maintain my pseudonym.

  4. Without pseudonyms, you wouldn’t be able to blog about the juicy stuff. Well you could, if you didn’t care about future employment. We need to have these kinds of discussions without being worried about how it will impact our tenure or what have you….

  5. Once you forgo a pseudonym, there’s no going back. All things that are irreversible scare me. Screw the mommy blogosphere. If they are not allowing you in, it’s their loss. I don’t know much about that part of blogosphere so I don’t want to judge what they do or don’t do, but any professional woman blogging about her professional woes better have a pseudonym; anything else is too dangerous.

  6. I agree with @GMP 100%. I could not write as honestly about mothering or working motherhood without my pseudonym. I don’t want any potential employers googling my name and reading about my sleep woes!

    I also don’t want anyone googling my kids names and reading about how easy or hard it was to potty train them.

    However, plenty of people I know in real life know about my blog. And anyone who knows me and stumbles across it would almost certainly recognize me.

  7. @Cloud, you raise a couple of really good points, and it occurs to me that someone blogging about their professional and personal life under their real name may not be as honest as somebody blogging under a pseudonym. Hence, the argument that you can’t *trust* a pseudonymous blogger is just plain wrong.

    I also find that many of the pseudonymous bloggers I *know* have claimed to be pretty easy to uncover, especially if somebody they know IRL crosses their path on the internet. Writing style combined with a few details about your life/work can compromise a pseud pretty quickly. As a result, many of the pseud bloggers write and comment with some level of decorum. The pseud has rarely served as a license to misbehave…merely a means to talk a little more openly about topics that don’t get discussed at the water cooler.

  8. Pingback: OMG schoolstartedwe’redying but here are some nice links… « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured

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