Promotion vs. Privacy: A Personal and Professional Predicament
There is room for both . . . And understanding for each . . .
Recently I witnessed, but did not participate in, a rather lively debate regarding our identities and profiles as posted on the Internet and to Hub Pages in particular. I would have jumped into the fray with both feet (and my own strong opinions) but was out of town (playing disco ball in LV) and off the computer for a much needed holiday/rest. (1) By the time I returned the simple (distorted) misunderstandings were so deep I didn't want to so much as dip a toe in the muck and mire!
Quality counts . . .
I am an author who carefully weighs the risks between promotion and privacy. I have to. I am a transparent person by nature. Painfully so. I, too have Asperger, a form of Autism (2). One of the ways it manifests in me is that my brain does not compute nor recognize deceit. Deception is foreign to me. It is illogical. A glaring shortcoming is taking all people, even those I only know through the Internet, at face value. (I'm getting better but have a long way to go; I have wonderful friends who act as my safeguards!)
It never crossed my mind that some Bloggers/Hubbers may not be the sex, the age, or even the person they represent in their photos. It never crossed my mind that the beautiful profile photos might not be of the very author who wrote the Blog/Hub. (I guess I don't get out much!) Truthfully though, it doesn't matter to me.
What DOES matter to me is the QUALITY of their Blogs/Hubs, their fairness of heart, their positive participation and contribution to the Internet and HubPages community, their unique viewpoints, their graciousness when confronted with opposition, the genuineness of their message, their ability to put themselves in someone else's shoes, their independent thinking, the depth of their introspection, their ability to appreciate the minute details and the bigger picture, the motivation behind their efforts, their intent and their integrity.
These are qualities that cannot be faked nor hidden; to me, the importance of photos and profiles pale in comparison.
Valid reasons to protect privacy . . .
There are many VALID reasons why an author might choose a business name, nickname, moniker and/or avatar that preserves a bit of their privacy. Previous identity theft. Spousal abuse. Child protection. Branding. Cultural stereotypes. Conscientious objector to unjust war. Ex- lovers. Current bosses. Noisy neighbors. (3) Pole dancer with an IQ of 188. FBI informant. Secret shopper.
I think a bit of anonymity allows us to share our souls in ways otherwise too risky for some. I would give the keys to my home, both Mercedes and safe deposit box without hesitation to Robin, James and Paul Edmondson. But not to the 90 year old woman down the street who lives on the Internet with violent dementia and loaded guns who wishes me dead because she thinks I am sleeping with her husband who died 40 years ago. (4) We need to always remember that what we put on the Internet is available to those who love us and those who hate us equally.
Stalking . . .
My reason for using Earth Angel and my delicious logo (5): I was stalked. Violently. For three years I could not be alone. Not even to sleep. I took a shower in a room without windows. I traded cars with numerous friends so I wouldn‘t be followed, wore wigs, borrowed clothing, canceled all credit cards (that's how he first tracked me), put all my funds in my mother's name, paid cash for everything, changed my phone number weekly, moved my home four times and stayed with friends almost every other night. My best friend put all my utilities in his name, I never drove the same way twice, and relied on a long list of loved ones to provide underground safety for me. And a way to support myself. I finally had to move 3,000 miles away and even that was not enough. Five more years involved police protection. It's been a number of years hence and I still look over my shoulder to this day.
Internet and private records . . .
If you have never been abused, or seriously threatened, or stalked, or had your identity stolen, or had your children held hostage either emotionally or physically, count yourself as fortunate. As a Life Skills Coach for the middle and upper class, I rarely meet a single person/woman unscathed.
Our US freedom of speech and access (which I reverently protect and honor) allows anyone, good or bad, to access our credit report, social security number, tax return(s), drivers license, physical address, voting record(s) and professional license(s). Even utility bills are public record and THE ONLY absolute proof of residency (6) in case of Flood-Fire-Earthquake-Evacuation when it is time/safe to return. (Not even a current drivers license is considered proof of residency!) Google Earth makes it even easier to track someone. Have you ever Google'd your own phone number?? Or name?? Or address?? (7)
In the US one in four women will suffer abuse of some kind in their lives . . . usually at the hands of a loved one. This is unheard of in other developed countries. Of those, 50% will have their lives threatened and/or be raped at least once. (Getting worse . . . ) Usually many times. Two in ten will end up dead. (In my case, two dead, two more attempted.) With their families often too frightened for their own lives/safety to prosecute! (8)
Nom de plumes . . .
All of the authors Earth Angel Publishing represents have also been counseled in the risks of using their own names and photographs. They are given at least a month to research my precautions before signing on the dotted line with their decision. All of the authors I represent (except myself) have chosen to use nom de plumes instead of their real names. (11) An author can always change their mind later if they want to use their real name. But there are too many successful writers, like the novelist John Grisham, who wishes every day he had NOT used his real name. (12)
Unfortunately, the United States (and maybe all democratic countries) is home to many Bloggers/Hubbers who feel most powerful tearing others down. The fact that they don't possess the expertise needed to create what they attempt to destroy seems to elude them. A good example is Oprah and her Leadership Academy. (13)
I know what it is like to earn a stellar reputation and have it tainted by flippant comments made by someone who has a computer and more time/anger than brains! Those of us who write for a living cannot afford to have a loose cannon shooting unjustified mortar at our work. (Constructive critiques, however, are always welcome.)
For those who are serious about their writing careers, my recommendation is to create a "Brand" that is all your own. Separate email address, phone number, P.O. Box, etc. (14)
Share your reasons . . .
I am eager to hear reasons why you chose to use your real name and photo, or not. I think there may be as many reasons as there are Bloggers/Hubbers. I look forward to your comments below!!
Condemn or applaud . . .
Yes, most of us write Hubs because it's fun and if we earn a few dollars along the way, it's icing on the cake! For many of us, earning a living as a writer/author on the Internet is the only way to remain self-sufficient while secluded in a safe environment. (9)
Can you imagine how many people around the world are working the Internet to earn funds to make some kind of safe escape from intolerable circumstances?? Yes, there are scammers galore . . . And those of us who work the keyboard regularly can spot them pretty easily. (Okay, maybe not me.) Let them go. Give it up to karma.
However, if a responsible 300 pound woman in a tiny town is abused regularly by the breadwinner and is still managing to raise 5 exceptional kids while working every spare minute/hour in secret to secure their financial escape and safety, does it really matter that she uses a photo of a pretty foreign celebrity in her profile to hasten her goal? Would we condemn her?? Or would we applaud her!!
HubPages is a democratic forum. Blessings to Paul, Robin, James, Paul, Jason, staff and HubPages for this unique Internet opportunity. Everyone gets a voice. Grains of truth rise to the top. The shaft blows away in the wind. (10)
The good outweighs the bad . . .
So in this Season of Love, Forgiveness and Joy, I can only imagine that high stress levels were responsible for the odious discourse now running through several threads. Not many like my enthusiastic/cheerleader ‘!!' at the end of each sentence either. Even fewer like my "Blessings always" but my intentions are positive and my heart is in the right place. I may not agree with all the opinions expressed in the Blogs/Hubs but I learn sooooooooo much each day that the good far exceeds the bad. I pray we cut eat other some slack for cultural, experiential and philosophical differences.
Notes . . .
(1) See Some Like It Scott Hubs on Sequins Sweaters
(2) See Isabella Hub on Asperger and Dyscalculia
(3) I concede that there are many more invalid reasons, but they go elsewhere other than HubPages
(4) And I'm the one who literally saved her life and got her to the Hospital Emergency Room when she had a stroke earlier this year!!
(5) My logo, website, stationary, etc. were designed by the extremely talented James Edmondson of HubPages fame!! James, you are still THE BEST!!
(6) I am working on a series of Hubs for emergency preparedness that will cover these oddities in-depth!!
(7) Another Hub in the works!!
(8) For those of you who think Michael Moore's documentary, "Bowling for Columbine," overstated the facts regarding violence in the US, NOT. (As I start my series of Hubs on Stalking, Violence, etc. I will confirm more US facts.)
(And of course as I am writing this, the Nebraska Mall shootings just took place . . . Stop the world and let me off . . . Prayers to the many loved ones who remain . . . )
(9) Don't take us lightly!!
(10) Or is that just my wishful thinking?? We Asperger's (like Einstein and Gates) operate in a different reality!!??
(11) As the publisher, I am required by law to operate with a certain amount of transparency. As the publisher of many authors, I am compelled by spiritual law to operate with full accountability.
(12) More on the murder, and defense, based on his book later. Along with the tens of thousands of dollars he spent defending himself in a case he had nothing to do with! (And he's an attorney!!)
(13) See my Hub on supporting Oprah, I never did finish the Hub but support Oprah 1,000.000.000%)
(14) Of course, another Hub coming!! In the meantime, cgull8m offered a GREAT suggestion: http://cgullworld.blogspot.com/2007/07/googles-grandcentral-personal-online.html
Thanks again for dropping by!! If you liked this Hub please consider a thumbs up!!