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Are you an Outie, an Inie or an Out&In? Does it matter? I think so. How does it affect our writings if we blog anonymously? What about if we're "out," and we blog under our real names? Shortly after Bloggers Need Not Apply appeared in 2005, graduate students around the U.S. simply disappeared from blog communities.

We heard rumours of academic firings based on blog writings, and of course, rumours that universities such as Purdue were planning on hiring the said fired academics. What to do? Being incubating academics, we debated of course.

My colleagues voted for immediate anonymity. I resisted. Did I really just want to be a Catherine Earnshaw, Lucy Snowe, or George Eliot (Don't I wish?)?

For the first time in my short blogging career, I felt dirty because I needed to hide what I was saying. I guess I've always believed in the Atticus Finch ideal: he behaved the same way in his living room as he did in public. And if I couldn't write it without repercussions, then it didn't need to be written. Because in my mind, that's what it came down to: the content of the objectionable blogs. I wasn't writing horrible, juicy gossip or bad mouthing a university.

However, anonymity appealed to me on one level. We were trained to keep our teaching journals on a blog. Ok, fine. But does the rest of the world need to hear me admit I'm an idiot as I work my way toward excellence in teaching? Definitely not. I went underground.

A year later and with much reflection, I've come partially out of the closet, so you could call me an Out&Inie. I still don't feel the urge to share my day to day teaching journal, but I'm ok with pedagogy. I'm coming (partially) out for four reasons:

  • I have to teach Writing for the Web, and I'd like to practice what I preach and share my ideas with the community.
  • Anyone who seriously looks at my academic pedigree would be completely foolish to believe I don't blog;
  • And, I think any techie could probably uncover the anonymous blogs anyway.
  • Finally, when I think about where I'd like to teach, I don't think I'd like to teach at a university that didn't support blogging (Are they really out there? Or is this like the boogeyman?).

But pushing personal concerns aside, how might this affect my students? Their bosses (whomever they may be) also know how to use Google. And if I let my students blog on whatever they like, this could be problematic for them in the future. I also can't help but wonder what would happen if I let them choose to be Inies. If they're blogging anonymously, won't that relieve some of the classroom pressure and anxiety? If Johnnie's favorite topic is GI Joes, he might not be willing to publically own up to it, and we might have missed a great blog.

Of course, they would have to share their anonymity with me, so some of the crippling factors would still be present. But what others might be relieved? And how might that protect them down the road?

How does it feel to be an Out&Inie? Terrifying but perhaps a needed reminder that freedom is, afterall, just a chimera.

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One Comment

  1. Wow! I’ve never thought about this issue. I’m currently unemployed after being “right-sized” and looking for jobs. I may need to make my blogs a little more anonymous. Another great post.


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