Sometimes you only notice how much things change if you have a break from them. When I first started blogging, when I first started to write Too Young for a Midlife, Too Old for a Tantrum, it seemed that all the immediate people I read, and who read me, did so anonymously. In some cases I knew who they were anyway, and they knew me, in other cases I still don't know. Now I've returned to blogging, and become involved in Mummy Blogging in particular, the change I notice most is how many mums put their names to their blog and are no longer shrouded in anonymity.
Blogging for me always used to be like writing an online diary. I'd write about private subjects in a public forum, and the frustrated writer in me was always thrilled with comments, even the negative ones, because it meant that someone was reading what I said, and becoming engaged enough to let me know what they thought. However, when I confided to a couple of friends that I wrote a blog and they started to read it, it changed the way I wrote, and more importantly altered the content. When you're new to blogging, and it's all still bright and shiny, you tend to read lots of blogs, and become immersed in the world of online writing, a little glimpse into other people's lives; nosy neighbour syndrome for the modern age. Such it was that I learned what an industry blogging had become, how seriously it was taken by some, and the interest it held for the media.
I realised that blogging had given many things to people, a sense of community, belonging and friendship, but it had also taken away many things. Which early bloggers were shocked by the tale of Heather Armstrong, the woman who was sacked for writing a blog talking about her workplace, earning her place in internet history not just for her writing, but for giving us a new word - dooce? This word has become synonymous with being outed from the comfort of anonymity, sacked from your job and thrust into the public spotlight, but is this a risk that all anonymous bloggers take? Belle de Jour, one of the most high profile anonymous bloggers who has probably more reason than most to maintain her privacy, has so far managed to keep her identity secret, and maybe the time for people wanting to find out has passed. However, she continues to write her blog, albeit infrequently, has moved on with her life, and now is more likely to be found with a piece in the papers which might once have paid good money to someone who'd reveal her identity.
Fast forward to today, and the phenomenon of Mummy Blogging. Many of us are proud to put our names to our blogs, many of us choose to assume another name. My stance on this is that if someone wants to find out your identity badly enough, it will be a relatively simple task, but is it right this should be the case? How many of us like to keep our personal lives personal, and have something to lose should our real names appear in the public domain? How many of us blog for the simple pleasure of writing, and how many of us to promote our work, our careers, our lives?
I don't have all the answers, in fact I'm not sure I have any of them. I choose to stay what I would term "quasi-anonymous" - sure, my name isn't on my blog, but my photo's on Twitter, and I'm more than happy to meet up with other bloggers should an opportunity arise. I don't have a wardrobe full of skeletons and I don't have the sort of life which would interest the media. But anonymous blogging allows me to comment on my job, my friends and enemies, and my life, and not fear a family argument, a row with the boss, or worse, with the other half. I'm sure I won't stay anonymous for long but will putting my name to my blog change the way I write?
So I'm throwing this open to the internet - what are your thoughts on staying secret or going public?
I'd love to hear from you.