The concept of anonymity has always held a special enchantment for some people, and, for others, it is purely practical. London authors J. M. Barrie, George Orwell, E. L. James and Charles Dickens all were or used pseudonyms, in fact, the literary world is full of nom de plumes.
Yet while author pen names are an accepted reality of the literary world, blogging under a pseudonym often garners criticism and suspicion.
Blogging pseudonomically is often regarded as being secretive and hiding oneself behind a shield of cowardice, whether you write polemical pieces or not.
Some of London’s most informed bloggers write anonymously. Going Underground’s Annie Mole is an underground writer in more than one sense of the word; William Wallace at London Is Cool is hardly a revolutionary bent on self-rule; as far as I know, Diamond Geezer doesn’t work in Hatton Garden; conversely the Tired of London blog is written by the real Tom Jones, while the Welsh Warbler started life with a different moniker; Scarlett London would have been very fortunate to be so named for someone writing a London lifestyle blog; Brian Pigeon flies off the odd humous piece about our avian friends; the Gentle Author lives up to his name writing with authority about Spitalfields; and your humble scribe’s pseudonymous identity Gibson Square owes its origin from the first run on The Knowledge.
Lost in space
Using a memorable name has a real impact on the blogs themselves. A blog that has built up a brand name will normally be easier to find if you search online for that brand, but difficult to find if you search for the human name of the writer, who could forget Annie Mole rather than Mecca Ibrahim?
Depending on your desire to write publicly will determine whether you disclose your real name. Looking through Feedspot’s ‘Top 100 London Blogs & Websites by London Bloggers in 2020’ a curious list that puts Diamond Geezer at 41, while many dormant sites are ranked higher. Of those ranked (CabbieBlog is at 66), more than 35 are ‘lifestyle’ bloggers written by young women eager to put their name out on the bloggersphere.
So why does the media always need our persona whenever they write about bloggers or surround our blog names in single quotes.
As far as I’m concerned those using their identity do so for several reasons: to produce an income; a motivation to become ‘famous’, hence the lifestyle sites; the blog connects to another part of their lives, or they are writing to build more connections with friends or influence their boss; they can also reference their blog in conversation: “Did you like my last post?” “Did you see how many ‘likes’ I’ve accumulated?” “Just look at my blog’s ranking.”
When I’m 64
I think it must mainly be age-related, millennials are accustomed to the social media and having their lives out in cyberspace, while anyone born before the turn of the century is more reluctant to be noticed.