(Please note: The above title was supposed to be “When did you come out of the blog closet” but I am so irritated with the word “blog” and how it sounds, I have decided to stop using it.)
I get a lot of email from folks who take part in SPD asking me to change their name, or not say their name and where they live at the same time. Some folks have actually asked that I remove their information from our database altogether because, after some thought kicks in, they begin to fear the return of a long lost lurker, someone contacting them they no longer wish to speak with, or their employer finding out and firing them, Dooce-style. And each and every time I happily make the change without hesitation.
A few years ago, while Toby Joe and I were still living in D.C. a guy showed up down at the pool hall we used kick around in. I probably wrote about the place as much as we hung out there. For those of you who have been reading for that long, you will remember the place. And for those of you who have been reading for that long, my condolences to you and whatever sickness you have that keeps you coming back.
The first time the guy showed up at Bedrock, he said nothing. Instead, he stood there, at the bar, next to where we were all shooting pool and lurked. Come to think of it, I guess that was his thing, lurking. The next time he showed up at the pool hall he brought a friend for confidence. I was approached.
You’re mihow. You like Songs: Ohia. You work downtown. I know you.
I humored him with uncomfortable laughter and a few nods.
Yes, and how might you know all of this?
I asked him as if I didn’t already know the answer. I was probably drunk at the time. Who knows. What creeped me out the most about what he was saying, and the information he had was that it was coming from different places. He was mentioning things from here and Friendster. And that worried me because that put other friends at risk. (It’s like that HIV pyramid, only not nearly as life-threatening and serious.)
As he attempted to “get to know me” better, Toby Joe (who was standing right there each and every time) became more and more ruffled. This fella introduced me to his friend using another make-believe name. I greeted him, kindly enough, but not too kindly. Toby Joe, freaked out and annoyed by the whole thing, and rightly so, began to step forward. After a pool cue wielding sword fight, the guy finally got it and stopped showing his face.
A few weeks ago, a “real” friend of mine asked me some very strange questions.
Does having a blog ever creep you out? Do folks pretend to know you when they don’t? Do you get followed?
I was happy to answer “No” to all of her questions. There have only been a handful of times over the past three years where I could have felt “creeped out”. Off the top of my head, every time an Internet person has made contact, the relationship has ended with success. (It’s a really good thing I am not hot or at all popular.)
To be honest, I am more creeped out when I realize a tangible friend finds this site. There have been folks I know who have said things like, “I have been reading your Web site for months now.” or they hint about something I haven’t ever told them but they know because they lurk. That creeps me out a little bit, actually.
This morning I received an email from someone asking that I change his or her name slightly. I didn’t hesitate for a second. But it had me thinking about how things have changed around here over the course of three years. At first, I would use only mihow. I freaked out if someone mentioned my name at all. I remember getting upset with Toby a few times for using “Howley” in a sentence in the comments. He would have to delete it and correct it and all was safe again. And back then, boy did I ever bitch about work. I can’t believe the things I wrote about back then believing that no one could or ever would find me. Boy was I wrong. But that’s a story for another not so sunny New York day.
About six months ago, I started to come out of the closet. I began to use my full name and talk about my family members, friends and husband. While I’m still not sure this was a wise decision, it does keep me from stomping my angry ass up to the keyboard each and every day and writing about all the things in which I hate. Instead, I bitch about all the things I hate to Toby Joe every night. When your name is on something, you tend to think about it a bit more. Though, I’m not sure that’s a good thing or a bad thing. The jury is still out on that one.
My name is Michele. I live in Brooklyn. Toby is my husband. I started this Web site at 27 but I didn’t come out of the closet when I was 30. On March 23rd, this site will be three years old.