Non-anonymity

My (very few) frequent visitors might notice that I added myself to a WebRing today (like-mined bloggers, in this case women clergy and their buddies especially…).

Looking through these blogs has me thinking about the issue of anonymity and blogging. When I started this blog, I made the decision to not be anonymous. I did this for several reasons:

  • First, I knew from certain acquaintances that if you choose to go anonymous, people sometimes figure out who you are anyway. Best example: last year, one of my colleagues comes to me and says, “Hey, I’ve been reading this blog and I think this woman went to your seminary.”  (Note that I went to an obscure seminary. I love the institution, but let’s be honest, it’s obscure.) I took a look and said, “Yep. I’ve never met her, but I know exactly who she is.” I wasn’t sure I could manage to keep the details sketchy enough to remain completely anonymous.
  • The there’s the issue of being a pastor and your often very public role. On the one hand, blogging publicly, yet still being anonymous, is somewhat appealing. You have a public forum where you’re not “known” the way you are in your community. On the other hand, if your blog is “outed” in your community, watch out! I haven’t told my congregation about my blog outright, but I know I’ve been googled by some of them!
  • I also wondered how I felt about putting things on my blog that I wouldn’t want people in my community reading. If I wasn’t comfortable with them reading these things, then what were the ethical implications of putting these things on the web?

Now, I don’t want to in any way question the choice of my fellow bloggers who go anonymous. I think blogging is a wonderful way for pastors to support each other. In fact, there are times I really wish I had gone anonymous. Sometimes, I really wish I was putting things here without some of the worried listed above. Sometimes I think my posts could be deeper or more interesting if I was anonymous and felt less constrained. It would be a great outlet, a great way of consulting with colleagues, a great way to receive support from some people who I really respect.

I could say more, but Zora is fussing.

So, feel free to weigh in. What are the merits of being anonymous/being public with your blog?

7 Responses to “Non-anonymity”

  1. teri Says:

    Erica, I’m glad you’re joined the RGBP! Welcome!
    As for anonymity, I can say that I started my blog before the blogging revolution (ie back when it made you a total dork). So I didn’t worry at all about anonymity. Now I have had a few encounters, both excellent and less so, with people using my blog. (One of those got me this job! the other got me into a little hot water at a presbytery committee meeting when I was trying to get approved for this job.)

    I have decided not to move to an anonymous blog for many of the same reasons you’ve listed, plus the fact that I think it can be a tool for the church as well as an outlet for me. Plus, my family reads my blog so I already do a little censoring…so it seems do-able and even desirable to be a cool enough pastor to blog and also a sensitive enough person to do it without hurting (too many) people’s feelings. Plus–the conversations it can open up outweigh the hazards, at least for me right now.

    I applaud your decision, made with confidence, and hope for many good years of blogging in this Presbytery! woohoo!

    I look forward to seeing you sometime around. (There’s supposedly a group of cool young-ish pastors here…talk to Won about that. Good times.)

  2. meg Says:

    At this point, I figure my anonymity is only a gesture, and an empty one at that. To what am I gesturing? Um, to the fact that I am not out to name names and cause trouble. On the other hand, if you google the name of my seminary, my website is like hit 80-something out of 57,000 sites, give or take a 1,000.
    Am I anonymous? No, not really. As I still trying to protect, in some sense, the details of the persons and places that I write about? I guess so. But also, since I was made aware (around last year this time) of how many people in the rather small circle of this seminary and denomination are reading my blog, I’ve also started keeping a tighter ship which is, ultimately, a very good thing.

    Good thoughts, Erica. Thanks for helping me think mine through as well.

  3. will smama Says:

    First – and most importantly – welcome to the revgals!

    I guess I am anonymous in that I don’t blatantly use my name, location, etc…. but I also know that there is no way to keep it totally anonymous. If you find my blog and you know me – it won’t take long. I guess I am just trying to keep up a little bit of a boundary all the while acknowledging that it is really not that much of a boundary at all.

    Where I think folks get into trouble is when they blog as if they will never be found… and then they are.

  4. Stacey Says:

    I thought I was anonymous, but ended up being found by congregants, and it turned into a big mess. Since then I’ve done some thinking, and realized that it probably wasn’t the greatest idea to be airing congregational issues publicly, whether they knew it was me or not. It’s just not a good way to prove yourself (or be) trustworthy. I, too, wish that I could go deeper in my writing and not worry about what I say…but then, that would just be letting myself run off at the mouth with no accountability. So, in the end, I’m okay with not being anonymous.

    By the way, welcome to the RevGals!

  5. Lorna Says:

    “In fact, there are times I really wish I had gone anonymous.”

    I chose not to be anonymous. I’ve written a couple of posts that have landed me in hotwater – mostly because those who took offence at what I wrote don’t understand the nature of a blog

    but one thing someone said to me one day – stuck

    they said “would you print out a copy of today’s blog and put it not only on the notice board but also on every seat in church?” ouch! since then I’ve realised that my blog is NOT the place to air my grievances about things that are happening in our church. The power of the tongue /pen/ blog to hurt is emormous. So I’ve turned the focus back to me and my journey with God. Trust me that’s painful enough.

    As Stacey says accountability is important. And as I see it honesty without love isn’t really honesty! No matter how I pretend it might be.

    Anyway welcome to Rev Gals. WE are a great community and glad you’ve joined us.

  6. Sally Says:

    Welcome to revgals- I am one of the few who don’t run an anynonomous blog- but here in the UK blogging is not that common a practice yet. I may have to review this at a later date.

  7. more cows than people Says:

    Hi, Erica! Glad to join RevGals at the same time as you. I am a fellow Presbyterian and a knitter. I’m blogging anonomousishly (word or not, its the best way to describe). I’m not eliminating details that could identify me; I’m not obsessing over masking my identity. I’m telling some friends and family (away from here) about the blog. But I find that not being explicit about my identity and location has freed me for a certain degree of candor that I often don’t achieve as pastor in this SMALL town in this SMALL county. I am quite genuine, but constantly censored. And am happy to be less so in this forum. I’m sure people will figure me out. I hope that this community, that’s not so into blogging, won’t find my blog, but… if they do… I pray I’m not saying anything that would be hurtful to them.

    Your post though, and some of the comments to it, will help me to think more carefully about what I post. I’m still so new at this…

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