When You Are Not Who You Say You Are

ramblings keep me sane

When I started this blog my focus was on book reviews but now that it has grown, I want to share some stuff other than book reviews. Ramblings Keep Me sane is essentially about, well, ramblings. It could be book-related ramblings… or not. It’ll be like a discussion post where readers can share their opinion about anything under the sun.

When You Are Not Who You Say You Are

A lot of bat-shit crazy things have happened in the book blogging community and while I really wanted to comment on those issues in the past, I didn’t because, honestly, I don’t have the time to wade in the drama. kingsley gif That said, on 18th of October, Kathleen Hale, the author of No One Else Can Have You, wrote an article on The Guardian about how she stalked a book blogger. Say what? Yup, you read that right. See for yourself. Needless to say, it was a mess. I don’t know what sickens me more, the act of stalking itself or her self-deprecating-yet-feeling-justified tone in writing the article. Kingsley-shrug In the said article, Hale made a great deal of Blythe Harris’ fake identity and she felt that her actions were justified because of this. My question today, fellow bloggers and/or bookish people, is this: does it matter if a blogger uses a fake name when he/she blogs? cat meme I mean, I get that Hale was hurt because of Harris’ criticism (truly, I get that) and she felt like she could be Sherlock Holmes and unearth Harris’ identity because if her name is fake then her criticism is fraudulent too, right? So Hale proved (more or less) that Blythe Harris isn’t really Blythe Harris, but what was the point? In my five years of blogging in different blogging platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger, I lost count of how many bloggers I encountered that were not using their real names. Some bloggers use names of fictional characters in books or movies, others use their nickname or a variation of it, some make up entirely different names (a few bloggers admit to using a blogger moniker or alter ego in their blog’s about page). Using a blogging alter ego is not entirely new, at least to me. It’s no big deal. So long as you’re not gaining monetary gain or purposely deceiving someone by creating a fake persona, then that’s okay. When I started Books Keep Me Sane I contemplated using a blogger moniker but decided to just use my nickname instead. You might wonder why bloggers do this. I can think of a couple of reasons why:

  1. It separates the personal stuff from the blogging stuff – there are bloggers that don’t want to include much personal details in their blogs and they feel the need to use a different name
  2. It’s cool and mysterious to not reveal your true name – some bloggers just want to be enigmatic
  3. Using their real names can affect their blogging – this typically applies to gossip blogs where they spread nasty rumors about celebrities.

Bottom line is that I don’t think Harris’ use of a different name online is enough justification for Hale to pay for background check on the blogger, and calling in Harris’ work and pretending to be a fact-checker. We shouldn’t be surprised if we find out that everyone isn’t who they say they are on the internet. It is important to always remember that you really don’t know who you’re talking to online. One seemingly innocent Twitter follower could be your stalker, an unsuspicious comment in one your Facebook status might be from the person who has an extremely weird fixation on you. Be careful of what you share on the interwebs.

Do you think it’s okay to use a blogging alter ego/ online moniker? Does this lessen the credibility of the blogger?

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10 thoughts on “When You Are Not Who You Say You Are

  1. The way I see it? A blogger using an online moniker is no different than an author using a pen name. I don’t see what the big deal is about that. I don’t think it affects their credibility in the least.

    This whole KH situation is scary for bloggers and the positive feedback I’ve seen her garner from surprising sources concerns me. Of course, the fact that The Guardian decided to publish this is disturbing, too, but I guess they’ll do anything for clicks and attention.

    • It really is scary, now I’m having second thoughts when authors are asking for my mailing address when they send me giveaway prizes. 😦 I am also very disappointed in The Guardian.

  2. People like Kathleen Hale are EXACTLY the reason for people like Blythe to use pseudonyms. Blythe has been a Goodreads friend of mine for years, and I don’t give two shits if it’s not her real name. It’s doesn’t devaluate the conversations we’ve had, or the reviews she’s written. We’re on the internet, and there are some real creeps out there. So I really don’t hold it against bloggers if they don’t want to share personal information. We’re running book blogs, after all.

    • True, the focus should be on the books that we read and the reviews that we write, not our personal infos. People should always remember not to divulge so much information on the internet.

  3. If I were a book blogger, I’d definitely have a different name! I read the whole article that she wrote for the Guardian (which was really stupid of them to press in the first place) and think she’s nuts. Seriously.

    I’m not sure if she wrote that to “redeem” herself somewhat by just admitting how stupid she was, or trying to get people on her side, but it didn’t work. At least, not in my opinion, or the hundreds of other opinions on this I’ve read.

    She’s crazy. Credibility is built up by writing good reviews, having good interaction, and running an efficient blog. Not a “real name”.

    • It’s nice to have an author’s perspective on this issue, thanks for the comment Katie. I feel bad for Hale a bit, I am not siding with her but because of what she did and what she wrote on The Guardian her career may be irreparable.

  4. I feel like today, everyone online is using a fake name! It’s fake until proven real, right? And even then, most don’t use their full names, because of crazy people out there who’ll pull this and endanger people and careers. People can be downright scary and while thankfully I’ve found really great friends on the internet, it takes a lot of trust to build up to getting that full name because I (and other people, too) don’t want just anyone to know that!

    • I totally agree with you. Everyone on the internet knows me as Farzy but only a few know my full name. It takes trust to know someone’s personal information and that’s the way it should be if we want to protect our privacy.

  5. I don’t have a problem with blogging under another name. I really think its no big deal. My problem with the said blogger was more about how she crossed professional lines and was harassing the author a bit.

    That being said, I don’t care what said blogger did, Hale had no right whatsoever to do what she did. Two wrongs do not make a right. I don’t care what Hale’s justifications were for her crazy behavior, she should have been a professional herself and risen above it. What professional would Tweet on their professional account when they are drunk? And that was one of her lesser offenses!

    • There’s no denying that Harris threw negative (and hateful) comments about Hale’s book but it wasn’t an excuse for Hale to stalk the blogger. Authors should always think about their “public image” and how it could affect their career before they tweet or write an article about their stalking escapades. They should have more professionalism.

I read every comment you make and I will try to respond to each of them

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