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Friday, April 8, 2011

Hiding behind a curtain

Ummm…so I thought I had a post topic today. And then I realized that I’m really too busy being distracted by EVERYTHING to take anything seriously.

Spring Fever!

Backpacking trip this weekend!

Way too much caffeine this morning!

Vet School!


Awesome sprint workout yesterday!

Fat Lazy Pony! (Whose name just might be Farley and who will definitely have to be ridden with a crop when I start riding again).

Ok – focusing, focusing, focusing……Ooooohhhhhhh SHINY OBJECT.

Seriously….this is ridiculous. I am 26 years old and perfectly capable of staying focused long enough to write a post that doesn’t resemble stream of consciousness (the most annoying books I had to read in school were stream-of-conciousness – can anyone say “Catcher in the Rye”???? EEEEEKKKK this is another TANGENT!).

Let’s talk about blogging anonymously….or not. When I first started the blog, it was very important that it was anonymous. I regularly googled my blog to see if it associated with my first and last name, and e-mail address. I was concerned about privacy, security, and yes, putting too much of myself out into cyber space and being burned.

I soon realized that although blogging anonymously had its benefits, NOT blogging anonymously had even more benefits.

1. Accountability. I can’t just spout off what I want. There’s a REAL person behind this blog with a REAL reputation. My blog isn’t about being able to express myself without consequence; it’s about sharing experiences truthfully without causing undue harm to the relationships and people around me. I can’t tell you how many times I was (rightly) prevented from relating a story to you because, although it would have served a purpose and would have been the truth, the consequence to myself and the person would have been too great. And in those cases, where I’m better off keeping my mouth shut – not being anonymous has helped me see where the line is. If I DO post something that is negative about a person/company/product/experience etc., then it’s with thought and purpose, AND I make sure it isn’t anything in the post that I wouldn’t say directly to whomever is involved. I think accountability is important in real life and a virtual/online life. I’ve consciously decided to make it easy to find out who I am, without being stupid about it. For example, the online boards/forum that I’m a member of, my user name and avatar is consistent, and if any of you are members of those boards, it will be very easy to see who I am (even though I’m not posting my real name or contact information). My online identity is consistent.

2. Honesty. Much of what I said in “Accountability” also applies to honesty. At first, I either wanted only people who knew me in real life, OR people who didn’t know me at all to read the blog. If BOTH groups read my blog, I would be faced with having to be honest enough to satisfy the people in my life, which almost certainly would be embarrassing to share with people who didn’t! I can remember really struggling with this early on in the blog, and maybe that’s one reason I tried to be anonymous during the first stage of the blog. A lot of family members read this blog and they will definitely call “foul”! if I incorrectly portray something, beyond what can be forgiven for entertainment value of a lighthearted story. Thus you, as the non-familia reader can be assured this is an honest portrayal of one girl’s struggles to be an endurance rider (and now a vet student), and all the other drama associated with those journies!

3. Building Friendships. It’s hard to cultivate a friendship with an anonymous person. And the friendships I’ve made through this blog has been one of the biggest rewards. It has also been a way to keep in touch with people that are “endurance ride friends” – meaning I don’t see or contact them outside of rides – on a regular basis and have that relationship develop more into a friendship than an acquaintance.

4. A better impact for teaching, sharing and providing catalyst for change. Sharing experiences and learning from other’s experiences is usually more impactful if you know the person behind the experience. It’s not impossible to make a significant impact anonymously, but at least I personally am much more skeptical when someone is publishing under a pseudonym. Here’s a non-horse example of that – did any read the “student cheating” article in this month’s Reader’s Digest? (Yes I read the Reader’s Digest – it’s my bathtub magazine). Very interesting, very entertaining. Yet, I’m not sure how much to believe and it didn’t make me want to go out and do something to change what was (potentially) happening. It was published under a pseudonym for obvious reasons, and probably rightly so…but in that case, I would like to see additional validation. According to the article, something like 60% of the students utilize this service in some way…..a majority. In that case, I would have expected to hear SOMETHING about this when I was in school. If this practice is as pervasive as outlined, I would have expected that SOMEONE in my social circle would have done this. And I’m just not convinced. I think I would be more convinced if someone came forth under verifiable credentials and provided similar stats.

5. Trust. It’s hard to build trust and recipiprocity (I know – spelling error and spell check isn’t picking it up) under anonymous circumstances. That may not be needed for some blogs/mediums (such as Dr. Grumpy), which are understood to be about entertainment value, but if you are sharing a real-time journey, that doesn’t violate any kind of client-confidences, and your point is to help other people and also get something out of your own blog – I would argue that it is difficult to impossible to do so anonymously.

6. An incentive to learn. When you are baring your soul to strangers and sharing both your successes and failures, there’s a high motivation to learn – both so you can share something positive and so that you are able to help someone else. I feel very strongly that I should help others and give back to the sport and others in general. Blogging is one way I feel I can do that.

To my readers – what is your thoughts on blogging (or publishing) anonymously or not? Although there are isolated cases where anonymity is useful and needed (such as a one time event/expose in conjunction with other evidence), I think on an ongoing basis (such as a blog) it is less useful.

And on a more fun subject - what would your psuedonym be?????????? I like "Chick N Boots" (oooooooooo....that would be a good name for a blog if I end up being a chicken vet!!!!), or maybe one your fabulous puppy names that is on the "naming page". (which btw - there is a GLARING ommission on the puppy name list that I'm hoping one of you adds. I'm seriously considering it, but want one of my readers to get credit. Redgirl/mom/matt - you aren't allowed to guess or give hints.)


  1. Now how can a person get serious coming up with names when they don't know if it's a boy or a girl? You have to visualize a real puppy to be inspired.

    Personally, I always liked Fido, but it's been waaaayyy overused :)

  2. Flicka?

    Anonymity is a perennially interesting question in blogging. (Says this pseudonymous blogger.)

    I do think pseudonymity and anonymity are a bit different - you *can* build a reputation and trust around a pseudonym, by interacting with other people online in a consistent manner - much like you would do IRL. (Of course, there are trolls out there who will abuse the "mask" and that makes it hard to trust, but I find the same is true of people I interact with in person sometimes as well.) It's not unlike authors who write under a pen name. In my case, the decision was pretty easy - there is a enough irrational and violent hostility toward women in science and animal researchers (I am both of these things and I blog about issues concerning both - double-whammy) that I don't want my blogging in any way associated with my real self. I just don't need to invite that into my offline life.

    Which is not at all an argument against blogging as oneself if that's what someone wants to do - just that there are many reasons for choosing various levels of anonymity or pseudonymity.

    It's pretty cool to meet new people from various walks of life, who I might never meet in real life, so in that sense I guess it doesn't matter (to me) very much whether you blog under your real name or a moniker - I LOVE reading about your endurance rides, training philosophies and vet school journey - please keep it up. Wishing you and Farley all the best.

  3. I can't leave a comment on the naming page- but how about
    Alec for a boy
    or Sabba for a girl


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