Quasi-anonymous blogging.

Screen shot 2009-12-16 at Dec 16, 2009, 11.23.10 PMWhen I first started PDITF, I made the decision to go rogue and write under the alias Ninja. I know you may have actually thought my first name was Debt and my last name was Ninja, but it’s not, sorry to break it to ya. I may be anonymous to you, but for a select few, my true identity has been revealed. Being a quasi-anonymous blogger is the second most awkward thing in the world, platypuses (platypi?) being the first.

Screen shot 2009-12-16 at Dec 16, 2009, 10.55.28 PMSome people know who I am out of sheer stupidity on my part. I frequently email back and forth with various PF bloggers. I use Mac mail on my computer so I receive my personal email and blog email all in the mail client. Every once in a while I will accidentally send a PF related email out to someone from my personal email. Whoops. To the three PF bloggers that know my true identity, a warning: I will hunt you down and call you a doo-doo face if you share my information with others.

My family knows I blog (Hi family!) and a few of my close friends. Outside of those closest to me, I try to keep my nerdy side on the down-low. It doesn’t bother me if strangers/best friends/family know my financial DNA, but I get really uncomfortable when casual acquaintances discover my hidden hobby.

There is something weird to me about friends of friends reading my net worth updates and my spending habits. The other night, I was hanging out at a close friends house (who is aware of my blog) when he referenced an article I wrote to one of his friends (who I have only met once before). The mention in and of it self would not have been that awkward. It got weird when they decided to hop on a nearby laptop and scour my blog in my presence. I mean come on people, I’m standing right here, do you really need to read it now? This situation was uncomforatble for two reasons….

1) Everyone in the room was pretty much obligated to pretend my blog was really cool. None of them would be bold enough to tell me they thought my blog was lame. It would be like if an acquaintance told me they reached the highest level in World of Warcraft. I would say “No way that’s awesome man!”, but in my head I would be thinking “Maybe it’s time to get a girlfriend dude”. Personal finance is not the sexiest of topics, and contrary to what we all may think, blogging is still perceived as “dorky” by many. There were 5 people in the room that all gave me compliments after browsing PDITF, three of which I’m convinced did so just to be nice. Ya hear that casual friends, I know your web of lies!

2) Even more awkward than receiving half-hearted blog compliments, knowing people that don’t know me very well, now suddenly know a lot more about me (was that wording confusing?). I thought having a positive net worth would be the most aweseomest thing in the world, but I’m quickly learning it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, I almost like it less. Now that I am hovering around a NW of $30K, I find myself even more self-conscious than when I had a -$30K worth two years ago. I had no problem sharing my negative net worth with anyone that wanted to know about it, but when it comes to positive territories I clam up because I fear people will think I’m bragging. Sure enough, one of the 5 casual friends that browsed PDITF, saw my NW posted in the top left corner. He then said “You’re net worth is $27K?!” I didn’t really know what to say to that. I think all I managed to get out was “Uh, yeah.” I suddenly felt like that persons perception of me was changed. It probably wasn’t, but it still felt that way.

I made the choice to blog quasi-anonymously and I’m glad I did, but it does have some downfalls. Do any of you readers think blogging anonymously is lame? Do you fellow anonymous bloggers, share your website with any family of friends?

28 thoughts on “Quasi-anonymous blogging.

  1. I'm in your boat. I am generally "anonymous" to the the vast majority of my readers, but there are several people who know my real name and with whom I've spoken to on the phone, met in person, and have become good friends with.

    That said, I write under the policy that nothing I put on the blog will embarass me, my friends, my family, or my future employers if my real identity came out right this minute. I think it's naive to assume that anyone can have true anonymity on the internet – just doesn't exist. If someone wants to figure out who you are, they can.

  2. I prefer to be out in the open. I understand that your career is one reason that you choose anonymity, which makes sense considering what you do. What I really don't like, is when PF bloggers work with quasi-numbers, instead of real numbers. I like to keep things real.

    Anyway, everyone has their own comfort level, and that's about all there is to it.

  3. I am also quasi anonymous but only if you don't know me already. I am pretty open about what I do on the side with everyone I know. I have people at work, neighbors, friends, and family who all read my blog. It is pretty awkward when people talk about it in front of me or it comes up in conversation. Like I read that article you wrote the other day… The worst is when people say "Did you know Kyle has a blog about finances" and I am then immediately asked about some investment I know nothing about, or worse.. Gold.

  4. I totally agree! I am anon too, but there are a few bloggers who know who I really am. I don't feel comfortable with sharing to everyone, but the people who know I really trust. 🙂 I just don't want people IRL finding out about my blog!

  5. Yes! I know what you mean. Eek, I'm so nervous about people I know finding out about it, not really for the fact that I have anything embarrassing, but just because it's something I wouldn't share with people. I am with Well-Heeled… I don't write anything that would shame me later like say anything negative about friends, coworkers, etc. For some reason I don't mind meeting bloggers in real life, but real life people knowing about my life? Not so much… I've told only two people about my blog: My sister & my boyfriend.

  6. I'm "fully" anonymous….although I guess well-heeled is right. While I haven't written anything outrageous, I have revealed some personal thoughts that I would be somewhat mortified if someone I knew read them. I guess that's not too smart, but I like it that way….I get to vent freely, and if it wasn't for that I wouldn't get comments that sometimes help me "see the light", or just understand other views.

    I also agree with what you said about people's perceptions of you changing. I'm sure that if my friends knew I make what I do they'd try to sway my spending habits (and convince me to spend more going out or something)….and I just don't want that. I guess I could be wrong though.

  7. I'm fully anonymous as well. I wouldn't want people knowing what I make and do with my money. I don't want people know that I'm secretly in love with making budgets. It would just be awkward. Still just in case someone does find me out, it really wouldn't be that hard, I don't write about anything too personal.

    I agree about the not minding telling people I was in the negatives but as I'm drawing nearer to being in the positives (woohoo) I am less likely to tell anyone. It was the same in school though, get a bad grade I don't care if others know, get a good grade keep it to myself. Bragging=bad, Modesty=good.

  8. Like Kyle I share my blog with friends and family. The only reason I use a psuedonym is to segregate my business life from personal life. It would be wierd to meet clients for the first time and have them know so much about me after googling me and finding my blog.

    Once I retire (if not sooner) I'll come out!

  9. I've been sort of foot-loose and fancy-free about keeping total anonymity. And I'm sure calling attention to this will only fan the flames. But anyway, NO ONE in real life knows about my blog. I post about a lot of personal issues: my struggles with weight loss, net worth, my family, and my eternally miserable job, which would leave me open to a lot of heckling/FIRING, should I get caught. My fiance knows about my PF inclinations, but hasn't discovered the blog yet. I took down my real picture though, that's good, right?

  10. I agree w/ Wellheeled's comments. I definitely don't think anonymous blogging is lame!! In fact, it's really cool!! 🙂 However, I do plan to come out of hiding eventually and my blog will go through a clean up before that for sure.

    I also agree with your feeling about peeps knowing about your positive net worth – it's kind of uncombfortable!

  11. I'm not anonymous, if anyone chooses to read my About Me. My career is journalism, so my name's been "out there" for a long time — as I commented on Carrie on the Cheap's blog, my name is my brand. But not being anonymous has also led me to report, as Jake mentions above, "quasi numbers." I'm not in terrible debt and have a pretty good net worth, but you won't see any progress bars on the side of my blog. I'm more about sharing PF information with others and having conversations about finance with readers.

  12. The only person in real life who knows I have a blog is my sister and she doesn't even know the URL! I'm thinking I'm going to the next DC PF blogger happy hour though, so that will out me a little. I like the freedom to write openly about my finances and I don't think I'd feel that way if everyone know who I was or if friends knew about the blog. I have a pretty high net worth and I think I'd be treated differently if people in my life knew that.

  13. I know who you are and where you live!

    JK… that's really sketchy and creepy.

    I think it's good that your anon. You work for the Gov't so you never know if there are wierd government rules about this type of stuff. Plus it's pretty cool to be all cloak and dagger!

  14. BTW… don't be "ashamed" of your NW. You worked damn hard. You should brag to them that you've gone from huge negative to huge positive. Should have said…

    "Yeah dude, $30K and rising… what's yours?"

    That would have been awesome!

  15. I've made the mistake of emailing back from my own address as well. So there are a few who know my real name. But I don't worry to much, it bothers me more for people I know to know about the blog than people I don't know to know my name.

  16. I'm with you. (if you know what I mean)
    I'm pretty much anonymous. Some of my friends know that I have a blog, but not the exact URL. The one time I got linked to from MSN and got a ton of traffic I was really excited and told my dad. He then went and found my blog, but I caught him with sitemeter and told him to keep away. And my brother found my blog because I sent him my Swagbucks referral which included my blog name. I told him to stay away too. I think PF is boring for a lot of people (ie. my wife, family and friends), so I'm not too worried about any of them reading the boring details of my financial life.

  17. I love Dooce. And btw, being Dooced would be the best thing ever if it ever landed me her paycheck! She is making serious BANK!

    That said when I started blogging I was transparent. After branching out and reading other PF bloggers I felt like maybe I should be more anonymous, so I decided to anonymize (sp?) myself. I went uber covert and tried to act like people didn't know me, when in fact, I revealed my full name and location on the blog in several occaisions. Take the time to go that far back into my posts…I'll give you props.

    I don't really blog about anything that would make people feel uncomfortable. If they ask you about your net worth, don't feel bad! Ask, "yea, what's it to ya?" You should be proud that at this point in your life you are setting up a nice life for yourself whereas in a decade or so, the same dude will be confoosed (beyond confused) about where to even start.

  18. I find this quite strange. I remember reading a little while back when you wrote about entertaining discussions about net worth and personal debt. And if I remember correctly, you made it sound like its something folks shouldnt be so ashamed of talking about. Well, I guess its easy to hide behind the mask of the internet, but honestly I thought you were a bit more hardened than that. You write under a mask, sure sure, but I definitely thought you were a little more bold than your current post leads on. I often talk about my college debt loans, my lack of credit card loans, and my barely positive net worth. Of course people will judge you accordingly, its what we all do. Its not a big deal nor is it new. We shouldn't be afraid to talk about what we make, how much we owe, what our rent is. After all, aren't we all just trying to get by?

  19. I don't believe there is such a thing as anonymity. If someone really wants to find you, they will.

    As far as half-hearted compliments go? People are either interested in the blogosphere (PF or otherwise) or they aren't. Technology scares the latter and the idea of an online journal makes most uncomfortable. Most of my friends just don't "get it."

    Be proud of your hard work: in saving, paying down debt, in building a must-read blog and being a positive and awesome guy! Now… back to keeping us all motivated while we pay down debt, chop-chop!

  20. I am not an anonymous blogger at all, i do not like anyone in personal life knowing i blog. I do write about some rather personal things on my blog. In fact my ex knows i have a blog which in my mind means now i have to censor what i say… cause i dont want him to know anything about my life… he is a creepy stalkerish guy like that.

    I think the only other person besides him who knows i blog is my mom… but she is not tech savy and even entering a web adress in is beyond her. I am sure one day i will inform my friends that i have a blog, but not untill i actually want to write about them i presume. My friends… even the random aquantances, are not nice enough to lie and say my blog is awsome. They will tell me it is lame and that i am wasting my time. I only think my english teacher would encourage my blog… but he would have a caniption due to my grammar.

    I like having people i dont know read my blog, and people that are genuinely intrested in saving money and the whole personal finance thing. Better that than having millions of comments from my mom saying "i love your blogging hun! what do you want for dinner?"

  21. I'm totally 100% anonymous. Not even hubby knows. He knows all about the stuff I write about because there are no secrets in debt-land, but he doesn't know I blog. He's not really into that sort of thing, though. If he knew, I'm pretty certain he wouldn't even check it out. That's ok though.

    But I'm of the same thought that anything I write would not be embarrassing or hurtful if I was revealed to my 'real life' acquaintances and friends and family. I am who I am. But they don't need to know I blog. Plus, like you said, it is kind of considered 'dorky'. 😉

  22. After reading this, I totally identified with how you probably feel talking about your blog in front of all your friends. But, honestly I can say I LOVE your blog, at midnight last night I was dying laughing about finances…who would have thought?! And yes I know what you mean when you say that it's so much easier to tell your friends when your in debt rather than in the plus…why is that? But, it's something to be proud of…something you should feel good about. Yes, if you were going around bragging about how much you make and how much you're worth, I would say otherwise, but it helps your blog and there is nothing to be ashamed about. 🙂

  23. I'm pseudo anonymous. People know my name is Steph, and what I look like (in at least one or two pictures). I've given other facts about myself. But I'm uncomfortable with random readers knowing who I actually am. Still, I don't mind if my friends check my blog; if they know about my finances, and talk to me about my blog, I welcome it. I like when my friends want to know more about how to improve their finances! So, I'll funnel friends towards my blog, but I'm not guiding readers towards my LinkedIn profile or my home address….

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