Double-click on a blog page to open and read it for the first time and you get an instant reveal of what might be inside. Bold colors with pictures of the author or dainty scroll work in soft colors, the style conveys much, but what about the name?
Some are clever and descriptive, yet never drop a clue as to the author’s true name. A blogger who is also the wife of an active duty member of the U.S. Marine Corps said that her husband insisted that she write anonymously. That’s understandable. And smart. Others stay on a first name only basis. And then there are those that blast the first and last name of the blog author, front and center, top of page, bold.
To write an anonymous blog or to write as myself became the big question in the design of my blog. Should it be a name free anonymous blog, or first name only on the “About Me” page?
The internet can be an ugly place, where people hide behind a masked identity and spew out vile comments they would never say in person. Maybe comments in the style of hate-speech are not found so often on a crafty-shabby chic-DIY type of blog, but that’s not the type of blog you’re reading right now.
Welcome to the blog at sandydouglas.com.
And yes, that is my real name.
My name is at the top of the home page, and it’s in the header, though it is not bold. In today’s internet culture, any right leaning conservative Christian, which I am, who puts an opinion out risks being attacked by those unable to accept a viewpoint differing from their own, so why not just write an anonymous blog and avoid having my name attached to all that? Comments, all the positive and the not so positive are mine to own, whether I’m writing an anonymous blog or not.
The subtitle of this blog reads “Where truth meets life.” The truth here is not my truth. I like to take life’s daily questions and issues and go to the source, the ultimate rule book, the Bible, and see what God has to tell me about it. This blog is the place for me to share what I learn. It doesn’t mean I believe that my answer is the only correct answer, or that I don’t change my mind after further consideration. Don’t take what I say as “gospel”. Try it for yourself and see if God has anything to say to you about it.
You see, God still speaks to us today if we know how to listen. In the days of the Old Testament of the Bible, God spoke directly to people in different ways than He speaks to us today. That’s not my opinion, it’s from the Bible.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1-2 NKJV)
In the Old Testament of the Bible, He led the Israelites around the desert for 40 years by a pillar of fire at night and a cloud during the day. God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. He spoke to the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah through visions. “In these last days” refers to the time following the time of Christ, so this verse speaks to all of us in the present day. It is we who are left with two ways that God communicates with us: Through the Holy Spirit and through the Bible. That is how God speaks to us today and that is where I go for answers.
And what does the Bible have to say about writing an anonymous blog vs. writing under your own name? Go to your index or concordance. You might not find much under “anonymous blog” but here is what I found.
Write With Accountability
I want to be accountable and own the words I write. The internet is not a safe place. If a person says “I know it’s true because I read it on the internet,” we get the sarcasm. The internet can be a helpful tool to quickly research a topic from reputable sources or an inexhaustible network of inaccurate, false or erroneous information, and it can be difficult to tell the difference.
The bottom line is that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, though you can believe some of it. The trick is to do a little digging on your own and discern the facts.
Everything I publish must be acceptable to God. No matter which of the world’s religions you follow, most of us can agree that there is a God, that we will stand before Him and give an account of our actions, and that He will judge us. I want the words I publish to be presentable to God. I want everything I write to be founded in truth and presented with love.
And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 NKJV)
Writing is a solitary activity. By writing under my own name, I have someone standing over my shoulder, reading as I write, to serve as a witness to keep me from being too reactive, inflammatory, exaggerative, accusing or judgmental, all things I am prone to be. One of the ways for me to ensure that I carefully consider every word that I publish is to know that it is connected to my name. It doesn’t mean that everyone will be pleased by what I write, but I am prepared to stand behind every word.
It also doesn’t mean that my skeletons will be marched out of the closet or that my dirty laundry will be aired on this virtual clothes line. This is a blog about what I learned in my study of the Bible, not a site for true confessions of a Christian housewife, though I daresay that might get me more readers.
As Christians, we don’t have to be stuck in our pasts, weighed down by the activities of our old selves that we would like to forget. Our past sins and sinful ways of living are forgiven and we are now living a new life in Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
Live in the Light
In the presidential elections of 2008, one of the campaign promises was a transparent government, a government where nothing is hidden or secret; everything they do ought to be worthy to shine in the light of day. Evil happens under cover. It happens in secret and in the dark. When you bring it out into the open, it scurries back under cover because it cannot withstand the light. Live your life in the light and if there is anything you do that must be hidden and kept secret, examine it. Bring it out where everyone can see it. Hold it up to God.
But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:21 NKJV)
Writing to Connect with Readers
In good fiction, the author is invisible. The reader becomes so immersed in the story that the characters are as real as the towns they live in. When the language is larger than the character who speaks it, the author is there in the room and the spell is broken. I don’t want to think about the author in fiction. In all other reading, I want to know who is speaking.
It is possible to build an online identity while remaining completely anonymous, and depending on the topic, it doesn’t always matter. I could pick out a name to use here that portrays how I want my readers to see me. Maybe I could be a fun-loving Barbie or a home-making Sue. My husband said once that the women he’s known named Sandy were always fun. I don’t really know what a typical “Sandy” is like. Truth is, I’m not particularly bubbly or fun…my sister got those traits. Rather than try to build an identity from scratch, I’ve decided to stick with the one I’ve been working with for awhile. So Sandy it is. Besides, it doesn’t really matter what my name is; the important thing is the name of the one I do it for.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17 NKJV)
Knowing the author’s name and face is part of the connection readers have with blog authors. It’s not the only one or even a requirement but it helps. A writer could use his real name and write deceitfully or write anonymously with nothing but the highest character. There are no guarantees on the internet. Sorry about that. I can only give you my commitment to be myself and write honestly.
As long as my breath is in me,
And the breath of God in my nostrils,
My lips will not speak wickedness,
Nor my tongue utter deceit. (Job 27:3-5 NKJV)
So welcome to the blog at sandydouglas.com written by…Suzie Herfenergler. Just kidding! See, I can be fun!