Struggling with Identity: From anonymity to Brenda

When I posted the latest Introductions over Coffee article, I didn’t expect my thoughts about identity to become so expansive. How we identify is really important, but once we have our names its easy to forget how challenging it was. After all, we are all given our names by our parents – we don’t usually get to pick our own. Why, then should we be surprised that sometimes people struggle to decide on their names.

Woman looking at a reflection but the face has no features. The image has no identity
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Searching for my identity

Prior to trying my hand at blogging I spent too much time online gaming. While I still have my online identity and would use the name if I were to return to gaming, I don’t think its right for my blog. However, when starting out as a blogger I began just with the blog name. On reflection, it must have been difficult for people to know what to call me – Curiosities? The full title of the blog? The initials? I’m not aware of anyone using a name, but I remember a blogger posting about the need for a name. At that time I was worried about using my name on my blog. I wasn’t sure about putting my name in the public domain which is probably why I just use Brenda rather than my full name.

Initially I was worried about any impact with my work, but quickly realised that I was writing some material for students. Therefore I wouldn’t be able to hide behind anonymity. I had to take ownership of my work and produce posts that I am proud to own. I do wonder sometimes however, if I should have fun and use my gaming name.

Over on Wise & Shine

Today, over on Wise & Shine, I look in more detail at some of the ideas behind identity, trying to understand the complexities behind bloggers not using a name online, whether that name is real, like mine, or a pseudonym. I’d love you to pop over and have a look.


As ever, if you’re not already signed up to my blog, I’d love to have you on board.

45 comments

  1. “Therefore I wouldn’t be able to hide behind anonymity. I had to take ownership of my work and produce posts that I am proud to own.” I can relate on a number of levels . . . Fascinating how anonymity touches vulnerability and what you post. Gets me thinking! Love it Brenda.

  2. I’m okay with no seeing you

    I know you are a lovely person

    Even on LinkedIn, you sound lovely 😛

    I thought you are strict, but you are a beautiful person 😁

  3. A thought provoking read.
    I think, we must leave decision making to the author.
    Announcing identity depends on so many factors as yourself said.
    Even if one keeps the original name, I guess none may show any particular interest, other than the identity of the author, since the social platform is full of fakery and parody.
    Men can act like women and vice-versa.(gender names)
    What about the inclusion of the author’s original photo?
    Why so many of us shy from this?
    Hence I believe that it best we leave the choice to the author.
    Maybe anonymity gives some freedom in being liberated?
    Some of my thoughts.
    Thank you, Brenda.

    • Hi Philo. Very true that we can’t really know most people online. They may wish to project an image that is fake for all sorts of reasons.
      And you also touched upon the other big debate in this area – that of the image in our gravatar. As you say, many of us choose to not use our own face.
      My feeling is that we will be regularly returning to this topic. I’m not sure what the answer is. I know that as I was working on this post, I was getting tied up in knots with the philosophy

  4. Any adventure into internet land should embrace the spirit of your presentations. YouTube have ‘monikers’ or small insightful site names adopted to show passions. ‘Sister Sun, Tin Moon and the Shifting Stars’ is a made up ditty I would love to put out there for a shop or site name. But it could be adopted by two people simply sitting on YouTube in regular chosen topic discussion with a different guest each time. ‘Bob, Maureen and a different guest dropping by each week’ would give a clearer explanation of intentions…..but where’s the mystery? Mystery, like your Curiosities…. site name choice provides a tweak of ‘Oooh! What’s this about’. You never need to really know who’s behind it all. Adds to the mystery too. Great post Brenda.

    • Thanks Gray. Some mystery can be good sometimes too. Now you have me wondering if I should have a more mysterious name … maybe my gaming name needs dusted off

      • 😊 There are the personas that present on YouTube that are visually or not visually seen and yet still adopt the title of something that actually doesn’t explain content of their site on reading. But once seen and their subjects enjoyed? All those little quirky named titles then stick in your memory. Like your Curiosities,…..theme. Memorable. That’s why I like the ‘Sister Sun and the Tin Moon’ scenario. Opposites. Gaming name? Can’t begin to guess. 🤔

  5. An interesting and thought provoking read Brenda. I don’t think I put my name on my first posts but then I went back to add it. I always feel like if someone refers to you by name in a comment it feels more personal somehow.

    • Thanks Sadje. I agree, it doesn’t need to be your real name. It’s about creating meaningful connections and having a name to use when chatting helps

      • Yes. I linked back to your post when I shared Introductions over Coffee #10, so your work is definitely a trigger here 🙃 thank you for the inspiration … who knew it would take us here

  6. Brenda…
    a thought provoking one.
    I have also opted not to use my name and go with just destiny. When I started off I was also unsure on how to go about and recall using the name bewilded until I realised how weird that sounded lol.
    I think the choice to not use my name came from wanting a personal space. Each person is entitled to their own preferences.

    A great share, yet again.
    Popping over to wise and shine 😉
    Hope you had a great day 🤗🤍

  7. I agree that it’s up to the author to use their real name, but I think people should use a pseudonym if they don’t want to use their real name. I understand why some people do not want to use their real name. Examples are people at work finding them, or family members, or even people from the past they want to forget about.

    Using a name (any name) just makes a blog so much more friendlier when leaving comments, Brenda.

    • Thanks Hugh, and we will always encourage. As you say, it’s friendlier. And rightly or wrongly, we are more likely to build better relationships

  8. This was a thought-provoking piece, Brenda. Choosing your own name can be challenging, but it can also be a privilege. This made me think of a recent event in our daughter’s life…
    After her divorce she decided to change her name, not wanting to continue having the last name of someone who had hurt her deeply. On the other hand, she didn’t want her old name back, because “That’s not who I am anymore.” Although we understood, I for one was a little sad that she was no longer going to have our last name. She told me some of the names she was considering, none of which I had ever heard before. They seemed bizarre to me, but I kept my feelings to myself. The next day she texted and said she had decided, and when I calmly asked her what name(s) she had chosen, her answer brought tears to my eyes. She had chosen my name (Ann) as her middle name and my husband’s name (Martin) as her last name. <3

  9. I’ve always used my name on my blog so that readers could find my other, earlier works as I became a published author. That intention has shifted through the years and I’m enjoying blogging for the sake of blogging and I’m grateful for the community I’ve found here. I love having a name or simple alias to call others as I also find it creates closer relationships here. I also find that by using my real name on my blog, it keeps me more accountable for what I write especially in regards to subject or tone. 💞

    • Thanks Dawn. I agree completely about accountability. When you use your own name it can come back to bite you if you’re not careful. I also agree that it does feel better, more personal when there is a name we can use to address others with

  10. Intriguing blog post Brenda. I think it is wise to use your real name online and it does help people to know who you are and that shows the uniqueness of your blog. A fake name is totally wrong because it confuses people and yes you need to keep things private but when it comes to work, try to be real👏

    People appreciate the real you

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