Why I Don’t Blog Anonymously

In my last post, the one in which I temporarily lose my mind and decide to take on a slightly controversial and hugely important subject as my next blogging endeavor, I discussed how it seems some are lagging behind in seeing the benefits of Social Media in the realm of Medical Education. Today I’m going to talk about what I see as an important aspect of my personal Social Media experience – anonymity, or lack there of. Next time, I’ll introduce you to some tweeters and bloggers who have impacted me and try share a few of the really great responses I received on my last post. 

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons User: iamtheo
People have written anonymously for as long as publishing has had a place. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Eric Arthur Blair…* Not ringing a bell? I bet you’re familiar with their writing…

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Tom SawyerAlice’s Adventures In WonderlandAnimal FarmNineteen Eighty-Four – any of those sound familiar? I don’t think anyone would argue these works being written under pen names, which is not so different than the current trend of establishing an anonymous, yet prominent and consistent, online identity, led them to achieve less than their maximum level of influence. However, they also did not become classics because they were written under pen names.

Obviously, I choose to blog without anonymity. Having my name permanently attached to everything I write makes me consider a post just that much more before I hit “publish.”
Without the mirage of personal protection anonymity brings I will never feel justified in writing snarky or compromising details about patients or using this public domain to vent my frustrations concerning colleagues or classmates. That is not to say that all anonymous writers use their space in that way, but I can think of at least a few prominent medical bloggers who abuse their anonymity as a method of personal protection in order to mistreat or poke fun at their patients.

This blog isn’t really about medicine or patients anyway, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever even blogged about a patient encounter. Mind on Medicine is really kind of a confused blog floating around a big blog-sea, transitioning between personal stories, education endeavors and bad attempts at humor without picking one category to dive head first into.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons User: Erichhh
I enjoy not being anonymous for several reasons, not the least of which being I’m not nearly creative enough to come up with believable and interesting stories that don’t give away information about who I am. As an example of effective anonymous blogging I’ll share with you Apotential, one of my favorite med student blogs. As a comment on my last post the author of Apotential made a great point about anonymous blogging and specialty choice that had never crossed my mind:
“I’ve actually thought a lot about un-anonymizing myself, but in the end, I’m too interested in psychiatry to take that chance. Most physicians can get away with having a professional personality or voice, but psychoanalysis requires anonymity even in the analytic session itself. (Not saying that’s my future career, but I sure haven’t ruled it out yet). So I’m anonymous as far as google is concerned. If I end up going into something else, I’ll eventually de-anonymize. :)”

Other reasons people shared included things like fears of repercussions when applying to residency or jobs, not being comfortable with colleagues reading their writing, protecting family/friends and the very real threat of writings being used against us (out of context) in the future. Personally, I think these are all really great reasons to blog anonymously.

While in my eyes all the reasons for blogging anonymously may seem insignificant when compared to the actual process of keeping a blog anonymous, others may value their anonymity to a greater degree. While I would rather have my writing out in the open when I apply for residencies, because I feel it’s an asset that contributes to me as a whole, others may be more cautious due to the fact that not everyone in this field has caught on to just how beneficial the use of Social Media can be.

I am fully aware of the very real chance that I may someday need to verbally back up not only how I share my thoughts and experiences, but also why I share them. I’m not so naive to think that publishing my writing online will never prompt a negative response, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take in exchange for all the great things I have gained from having a presence in Social Media.     

Or maybe Danielle Jones is just my pen name…

*Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, George Orwell