Real Names vs Internet Names: A running commentary

Apr 15, 2008

#Life#Getting to know me#The Flinger Family

There’s this phenomenon on the Internet. It’s called Google. Most people/employers/possible clients know how to use Google. Google is good. Google is bad. Google may be Big Brother.

Or, maybe, if we go all deep and philosophical, Google is really God. All knowing. All seeing. Telling your seventh grade boyfriend things you said about him and making your marriage an open book. Google is the bane of the medical world and the best friend of new moms with collicy babies.

In short, we all turn to Google at night to answer our requests. Am I wrong?

But with such knowledge at our fingertips (annoyingly so) it’s easy to “get caught” in the act. Or tarnish a reputation. Or ruin friendships/relationships/jobs.

So, when I got the name of a potential nanny, the first thing I did was type her name in to google and see what comes up in case she hasn’t read whoorl’s tip for nannys. I found nothing. Not a clue. Which, in a way, is a good thing. I think.

I’ve struggled with this for my own business, needing and being so public to market a skillset while simultaneously being enteraining about my husband’s junk and honest about the juggle of staying at home and working. I told myself, a year ago, when I got a job, I’d quit the blog.

I didn’t.

She did. And she might. And she talks about the benefits of going offline.

And it’s not that I am going to go anywhere. I just wonder about my Internet Identity and my Professional Identity and how they mesh with my Mom/Writer/Sarcastic “I make fun of my life and most of it is real.”

As “more and more blog writers out their real names, I wonder if I should as well. Or if I’m even fooling myself with thinking this is a safe place anymore anyway.

Most of you know me in real life. And you know a lot of what I say here is a character of my real life, not my real life itself.


And in case you were wondering?

Nov12_07 049

This is us. Hi.

But you already knew that, didn’t you.


  1. I only use my first name. But then I am a little leary of being all “found” by somefreakidatedincollege or something. Plus, you know since the in laws don’t read the blog, I wouldn’t very much want them to be able to google my name and see what I said today.

    It works for some and it doesn’t work for others.

    Whatevah you decide you will always be Mrs. Flinger to me!!

    By Faith on 2008 04 15

  2. Once I stopped blogging and started communication with my blog friends via linkedin and facebook and email, I started using my real name. I still just use “The Aitch” for twitter and flickr just because they are different than facebook or linked in. But now that I don’t blog anymore, I feel less ashamed (less frightened too!) to let people know who I really am.

    But yeah they all find out in the end anyway. By The way, my name is Andreah.

    By The Aitch on 2008 04 15

  3. I use my real name. I never refer to myself by my married name, only my maiden name (which I write under), but I have referred to my husband and son both by their full names so anyone smarter than a box of rocks could figure it out.

    By Annika on 2008 04 15

  4. I waited years before coming out with my real name.  I know the lure of staying relatively anonymous.  I felt like I had to come out when I wanted to get writing gigs, because potential hiring peeps wanted to know who I was.  I’m hoping I don’t regret it!

    By To Think is to Create on 2008 04 15

  5. I like that word Andreah used: ashamed.  That’s exactly how I feel about blogging/twitter - sometimes even facebook (but that’s getting better), just the whole online world.  I love it dearly, but I seriously believe my family and friends would look at me like I had 4 heads if I told them I have these friends I talk to online, and I sent Christmas cards to them, and I really think they are the coolest. 
    I sometimes use my real first name, sometimes I don’t.  Some people know my last name, but most don’t.  I have tried hard not to use the kids’ names just because, but slip up every once in a while. I am by no means an online personality, but I enjoy the “peek” into other people’s lives who are like me that I get with blogs.  That’s something you just don’t get in “real life.”

    By Southern Mom on 2008 04 15

  6. No way. I have heard way to many bad Google stories to throw my real name out in the ring. Plus then the psycho kiddie stalkers can’t come and snatch my kids…hey now there is an idea!

    By Kat on 2008 04 15

  7. I don’t put my “real” name on my blog but it is all out there on Facebook, but I figure I have to approve people on there so if people want to find me that I used to know, fine.

    However, I agree about people being able to easily find stuff you wrote in ways you never imagined.

    I had a college reunion this weekend and a guy who was a couple years older found the post I wrote about the couch with the marijuana plants growing out of it.  I didn’t put any last names and in fact, the only person in the story is myself and a guy named Bob, of all things.  So, you know, it was a little unsettling that this guy found that story on my blog, and then he was asking me about the events in the story because he had already graduated.
    Interesting, and yet, kind of creepy….it made me think a little about the stuff I write and how I want to present things and being nervous about someone “undesirable” finding stuff.
    As for you, once I figure out your address I’m sending you a lock of my hair and a letter about how I think of you every time I see mayonnaise or asparagus.

    By Sonia on 2008 04 15

  8. I have zero anonymity on the net, by personal choice. Largely for professional reasons, I have always used my real name, and am sgetgood just about everywhere—FB, Twitter, the other microblogs that I never use anymore etc.

    That said, my son has a different last name than I do, although if you look only a little bit you could find both him and my husband even though I do not use their last name on my blogs. I also don’t blog too many details about my personal life, even on the personal blog. Trips, tv shows etc. but not too much biography (although that does seem to creep onto Twitter).

    You have a different thing going on, your blog is personal. That said, as I’ve said before, I think you should “out” yourself, even if you use your pre-marriage name. Business clients will take you much more seriously as a name than as Mrs. Flinger. Tis the reality of life.

    By Susan Getgood on 2008 04 15

  9. Awesome… look how cute Mr. Flinger is!

    I’m sure as a blogger, this is a really difficult issue.  I know that as a lowly READER and someone who POSTS on favorite blogs, I struggle with whether or not to use my family’s real names.  Hubby freaks at the thought, so I usually refrain, but for you, it’s part of what you DO. 

    I definitely feel that in a few years it won’t matter if you WANT to be found on Google or not.  Much like Big Brother, it will know ALL.

    P.S.  I’m just glad I know you - by ANY name!  smile

    By Katie Kat on 2008 04 15

  10. We are SO in each other’s heads. I am currently re-focusing my online life. When I started the “mommy blog,” I only used my first name, my kids had pseudonyms, and I did not reveal my location any more specifically than “USA.” But as I move toward more professional aspirations, the mommy blogging thing is starting to rub me the wrong way. And with my kids getting older, it’s just not as much fun to talk about their “issues” anymore. It’s embarrassing - to me and to them.

    My husband doesn’t want me to discuss him at all on the blog and often gets annoyed at what I share about myself and the kids. But he’s pretty good about it as long as I don’t share anything really personal.

    I think ultimately I’ve decided that it’s just no longer my style to blog extensively about my personal life. I think we can all be “outed” if anyone wants to know about us badly enough. (I know several bloggers who think they are “anonymous” but you can find their name and address through a simple WHOIS search of their domain.)

    So, yeah, I wrote a book here in your comments. I want my internet identity to be my professional identity. And for me that the mommy blogger identity is going to fade out.

    By Shannon on 2008 04 15

  11. I don’t try to keep my identity secret from my regular readers. Most of them know my name and where I live. I read their blogs. I know where they live. I keep my real name off my blog for the safety of my family and our privacy but also so people I know irl don’t google me. I would also prefer to keep any freaky stalker people from showing up on my doorstep someday. I checked myspace and facebook when hiring for my student worker positions though. Some of them were pretty out there.

    By Someone Being Me on 2008 04 15

  12. Alli Fussy Fussypants IS my real name. What?

    By Alli ~Mrs. Fussypants on 2008 04 15

  13. I used to try to be *somewhat* anonymous.

    It did not work.

    My name is Angella Dykstra, and I AM PROUD OF IT.


    By Angella on 2008 04 15

  14. I was sort of outed when I started the Sk*rt thing and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about just using my real name on my blog lately, but well, I don’t know.  Let people figure it out I guess.

    And by the way, how cute are you two?!

    By MammaLoves on 2008 04 15

  15. I have always used my full name on my blog. I have no desire to put the energy into my blog that anonymity would require. I also believe in standing by what I write.
    Sure, there is always a safety issue, but I really think if someone is hell bent on finding you they can and will.

    I used to splay god knows what on my blog before I clued into the enormity of the internet. Now, I have learned some boundaries. I am fairly open on my blog compared to most, but it is now at a level I am comfortable with.

    Honestly, if people are not ok with the 4% of the life that I put on my blog, there would be less than zero chance I would want to have them around anyway.

    That said, I make zero judgment on how people handle this. It is such a personal preference.

    By Loralee on 2008 04 15

  16. you are purty…:)

    oh, my name is out there, baby.

    By ali on 2008 04 15

  17. look at all of that cuteness!

    I’ve always used our first names, and thought I tried to keep it at that, I’ve got my full name out there and it would be easy to link the two.

    Very good post.


    By karla ~ looking towards heaven on 2008 04 15

  18. Very timely post, Mrs. F.

    By Jennifer on 2008 04 16

  19. Pretty!  I use my name online, but I don’t have a blog.

    By mdvelazquez on 2008 04 16

  20. What a sweet picture.

    You’ve got me googling myself now, and the results are not startling, although there are several of “us” on that first page.  My real name has appeared on my blog in a photograph, and you’d figure me out if you Googled me.  I’m not anonymous online, really…it hasn’t had any negative affect on me.

    By Assertagirl on 2008 04 16