I see that “Kyle Finchsigmate” over at The Chem Blog is having some problems maintaining his pseudonymity at his own institution:
” I’m still befuddled why people walk up to me in the hall and talk to me about it. It’s more irritating than you can imagine. I feel like people treat me differently when they find out. . .
It has also become a liability and I’m not in the mood to juggle liabilities. Faculty and students around here have too much time on their hands to deeply contemplate the idiotic musings of a graduate student and it has handicapped me considerably. . .”
I’m not surprised. He’s given out enough details over the course of his blog for someone at his own school to figure out who he is without too much trouble, and I suspect that his distinctive habits of speech carry over into daily life as well. I enjoy some of his posts, but others (as I said about Dylan Stiles's blog) just serve to confirm for me that I am not, in fact, 25 years old.
I very briefly considered going anonymous back in 2002 when I started blogging, but realized that anyone who really wanted to would be able to do the same to me eventually. My writing isn’t as full of copulating inanimate objects as Kyle’s, but it’s also my own, and it’s also recognizable. (And if it’s not your vocabulary that’ll give you away, then it’s your opinions and your outlook).
I also figured that, one way or another, I’d like to be able to take credit for what I wrote. I lost the chance for some anonymous satire and griping by going the public route, but that’s just the sort of thing that would have caused even more trouble if (when) it was eventually traced back to me. So public disclosure it was. It’s worked out well, and I’ve never regretted it.
But I’m very glad that there were no blogging opportunities when I was a grad student. I had an awful lot to get off my chest about my grad school experience, and the opportunity to do it would have been hard to pass up. Sorrow would have been the only possible result. Actually, I’m just glad that there was no Web, period, when I was in grad school, since there’s no telling how long it would have taken me to get out of there if I’d that distraction constantly available.
So a word of warning for those of you thinking of starting a pseudonymous site: you’re heading toward a contradiction. If you’re doing so because you’re going to say things that you can’t say under your own name, you raise the chances considerably of eventually finding them there. And since the internet, for all practical purposes, Is Forever, your opinions and actions will follow you around whether you want them to or not.