My double life online, separating my personal and professional selves

I almost hit, “Tweet.” I was gonna do it, I was. The words had been written and all that was left to do was hit that blue button. I could’ve but I didn’t. I stopped myself. Just in time? Maybe.

See, several years ago – more than three but less than eight – I started blogging under a pseudonym. I wanted to give myself some distance from my writing. I thought it would free me up a little, give me some room to explore different ideas and avenues of thought. The idea of not being “found” through a search of my given name appealed to me. And, for a time, it worked.

Then, about three years ago, I made a friend at work. He’s a writer, you see, as well as being a teacher, not unlike me. The difference is, he writes under his given name.

Since the beginning, he’s questioned why I keep two separate social media accounts and two separate blogs: one for my teacher side and one for my “real” side. Incidentally, my teacher-side is associated with my actual name. My students also call me by given surname. They sometimes call me by my first name, usually when I’m in the middle of an improv act that dramatises my perspective of them.

It was only a couple of days ago that I opened up Twitter to find a notification. It happens irregularly so it was exciting. I clicked on the bell and my eyes widened. I looked off to the side, off-screen, hoping to see an explanation of what just happened. I said, “Oh, man.”

Buddy outed me. In one single tweet, he brought together the online lives that I was building separately. It was done with good intent, this I know, and it was something I wasn’t ready to do for myself.

See, we’ve developed a sort of mutual support system for our writing pursuits. We rarely talk about teaching anymore. It’s a system that works and we both benefit from it. He’s a lot bolder than I am, though, and pushes me to do more and be unapologetic about what I have to say. I do admire his work and am somewhat envious of his approach. Still, much as I need it, I don’t like being kicked in the ass.

My bum is boney and it hurts to sit on hard surfaces like wooden chairs for any length of time. It’s not even round enough to hold up my pants. My belts suffer.

So, there I was, not an hour ago, writing up a tweet to promote a blog post from my one account on the other. Because I’m the same person who writes both blogs, there’s some crossover of the content. Plus, it’s an audience that might find interest in the piece. But, I didn’t do it. I discarded the changes.

That’s when I started thinking. I asked myself if these two lives should be brought together. “Is it time,” I wondered, “to start using your real name?”

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“I mean, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, but there was a reason you did this. You separated the two for a reason,” I responded.

“That was, like, three-to-eight years ago,” I said.

(I’m saying all of this out loud.)

“I guess, but shouldn’t you keep it separate? I mean, the ‘themes’ are different. One’s for teaching and the other is just you rambling on because you don’t talk to anyone.”

“Are they really that different? What, you’ve got a podcast for the one; that’s really all that’s happening with it, and you still have to put out an episode this year. Plus, you’re going to run out of things to say if you want to write 300 blog posts this year, so you’re going to need to get ideas from somewhere. You might as well use teaching.”

“Yeah, I suppose, but, I don’t know.”

“You know what, this could be what today’s blog post is about.”

“Hey, that’s not a bad idea.”

If I’m being really honest with myself, I don’t think that it’ll be too long before my two lives online come together. It’s almost inevitable at this point, seeing as how they already have.

You can find my buddy’s blog here.


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