It may surprise some of my longterm readers, who know me to be verrry secretive about my identity online, to hear that offline I am...less so. In fact, if you know me IRL ("in real life" for those of you who are not up on your acronyms) and are even minimally computer-literate and have access to the innernet you can probably find your way to this humble website (HI THERE!) without even being exceptionally nosy and resorting to anything like peeking over my shoulder when I'm at a computer. Which, you know, is fine (Googling, not snooping; snooping is just rude). Curiousity is human and this is a public blog, so I don't write anything on here that I'm not comfortable with anyone in the world reading (nota bene: this does not necessarily mean that anyone in the world will be comfortable reading it). I've gotten to where I'm pretty happy with who I am, and while I blog for a specific audience (namely the online community of friends I've come to think of as an extended family of sorts, and their friends, and pretty much any like-minded individual who might be able to relate to any part of my somewhat unusual life and want to become my friend) that not everyone is a part of, everyone is welcome to come here and read about my life.
I blog and comment on other people's blogs pseudonymously, which means that I always use "MFA Mama" as a signature but don't connect MFA Mama with the "_______ ________" you know and love (or loathe). I don't name my hometown (or even my state). I don't say what kind of car I drive. I don't post pictures of myself (unless I am wearing a mask or something), or my children, or my home (you might see the edge of some brick or siding, but you won't see my house). This is not because I am ashamed of anything I write here, but rather because while I love the innernet, it is like offline society in that it has its crazies, and I don't want someone showing up at my front door with an (ideally metaphorical, because geez) axe to grind because of something they read on my blog.
And then there's work. I'd prefer that employers make decisions about me as an employee based on my resume, comportment in a professional setting, and job performance, not on what I write in my own time on my personal blog. That's not the same thing as this blog being a secret. If I work for you, you're as welcome as the next person to read this for entertainment value; if you're here because you're worried that I'm a liability, though, not because you enjoy my writing, I can save you a lot of unnecessary reading by saying that if I'm writing about my job it's ONLY in the context of my own personal life (i.e. what I ate for lunch or how much it sucked that I had a wardrobe malfunction). I give my various employers non-identifying pseudonyms so that readers can tell them apart, but I do NOT name them, go into identifying detail about their locations, products, or logos, or discuss any non-public information I am party to as a worker. I don't blog while I'm AT work (unless it's from my phone, on my lunch while I am off the clock), I don't blog from work computers, and I NEVER post pictures of co-workers, buildings I work in, or products I work with or on. I may mention that someone I work with is an amazing person, or that they are really unpleasant to me, but if I do then I do it in such a way that their own mother wouldn't recognize them based on anything I've written.
All of that said, while I don't think I say anything on here that I shouldn't, just like random people on the innernets, people (like you!) who know me offline (or even work with me) might have a problem with something I write, either because they just disagree with me on an issue I write about or because they feel I've said something inaccurate or unfair about them/our common employer. If it's the former, we may have to agree to disagree. If it's the latter, consider that a) nobody you know is likely to read this and recognize you unless you point them toward it, and b) even if you or someone else "see" you in something I've written, it may not actually be about you (I've written things on here before and had a person THINK I was talking about them when actually I wasn't...when you take the kind of pains I take to be vague you sometimes end up writing the prose equivalent of a Rorshach print). That said, if you're absolutely certain I wrote about you and it bothers you (and you are NOT my ex-husband or the known sociopath I refer to on here as "Stalky," in which case you may blow your gripes out your respective arses), then speak up! My e-mail address is on the "About" page, and that's how I prefer to discuss Things Blog-related. If you want to discuss it "off-record" then that's okay, too. Call me if you have my phone number, or just ask me to speak with you privately (unless I am on the clock and need to be working). I've taken things down out of respect for people's feelings before, and I'm not an unreasonable or unfeeling person.
Of course, you CAN also fly off the handle and go the "tattling" route. Since my ex already hates me about as much as is humanly possible and doesn't have the money to sue me anymore, and I don't have any living family who would care about my blog and aren't already aware of it, that leaves my employers. If you don't work for them and you want to run your mouth about someone who does and is a good worker, they probably won't care. If you DO also work for them, this probably STILL won't have the desired effect, and may even make YOU look worse than it makes ME look. I don't blog about most people; to be noteworthy you either have to be great or terrible. People rarely have a problem with praise, so let's say you work with me and you're terrible. You go on my blog and read my account of someone being utterly horrid to me, decide I meant you, get upset, and take it up with our common employer. They will most likely either brush you off (because, really? You kids settle this, the growups are busy!) or read my blog, which just tells them that a) since I don't identify anyone or anything having to do with work, you can't tell the difference between something that hurts your own personal feelings and something that ought to affect my ability to earn a living and b) you're nasty enough to co-workers that I may have actually been talking about you. MAYBE (IF they read far enough) they think a little less of me when they read that I am in default on my student loans and have a potty-mouth. MAYBE. But...that's pretty much it, aside from my netting some additional ad revenue, since page-views from unfriendly eyeballs pay just as much as page-views from well-meaning eyeballs. And that's if they even bother reading. I once had occasion to discuss my blog with one of my employers, because a co-worker found it (I suspect through nosiness, not Googling, although I don't know or really care) and had a problem with something I said on here but evidently didn't want to take it up with me personally (although apparently that is what The Powers That Be ultimately suggested they do). Due to the emotionally-charged (on the part of the other party) nature of that eventual...let's be generous and call it a conversation rather than a vitriolic tirade I patiently listened to (after which I did, in fact, apologize for the party in question being upset and offer to take down anything that upset them)...I went of my own volition to the source of my paychecks and said "hey, I have a personal website where I discuss my life, my family, my pets, and my opinions on products with which we are in no way affiliated, and someone read that I didn't enjoy their treatment of me and is upset. I don't name names, mine or anyone else's, and I'm pretty careful what I say on there, but they seemed to feel I deserved firing...would you like the URL?" Their answer was something along the lines of "That sounds more like a personality conflict, which we don't like to get involved in as a general rule. I'm sorry to hear you're dealing with one because they are never fun but no, of course you are not fired, you are a good employee. As far as the website...uh, no offense, but we don't really care about your blog."
Bottom line, this isn't 2004: companies know that people have personal blogs and use social media, and as long as they aren't discussed in a manner that negatively impacts their bottom line they don't really care.
What if you aren't great OR terrible, and I've never written about you or even anyone who remotely resembles you, or maybe you ARE great or terrible but I haven't written about you yet, and you're just WORRIED that I'm going to write about you? That's easy. Ask me not to, and I'll never mention you, by a pseudonym or no. You don't have to be uncomfortable around me or fear my bloggy wrath (yes, even if you're terrible--I am perfectly capable of just telling my spouse what an asshole you are and leaving it off the innernet like a grownup). Chances are I'm not nearly as popular and widely-read as you might fear if you think you're on my bad side anyway.
Maybe you just happened upon this website kind of by accident, succumbed to curiousity, and read something you wish you hadn't. Maybe you read one of the posts where I've reviewed sex toys and you don't want to think of me in a sexual context because I am a chubby, frumpy mom and you are turned off by women/just the dental hygienist who works on my teeth twice a year/against sex toys for religious reasons. Maybe I talked about a traumatic experience I had that is similar to one you had, and it's something you are less open about than I am and never, ever want to talk about. The beauty of my putting it all out here the way I do (for both of us) is that I can't necessarily tell you're reading (sure, I have Sitemeter and can see if someone in my hometown uses a Mac to spend six hours reading everything I've ever written about my relationship with my husband, but lots of people use Macs in my hometown). If you don't mention it, I won't even know, and I'm not any more likely to just bust out with "so have you TRIED the vibrator that hooks up to your iPod because WOW!" or "have you ever been beaten by a domestic partner?" in casual conversation than I was before you read my blog, even if you do cop to it, because that would be weird. So you don't have to avoid me, or give me the suspicious side-eye every time we meet.
What if you found this blog, and you think you know me offline, and I've never written about you, or have but only to say how fabulous you are, and you enjoy my writing and look forward to each new post but don't know if I know that YOU know? Well, then you don't have to say anything to me about THAT either, but I kind of wish you would so that we can be friends and I can send you hilarious e-mails about some of the things I have too much discretion to discuss publicly. Or, you know, we could have a cup of coffee and talk in person about stuff like backyard chickens and baking with coconut oil. It probably wouldn't be very rewarding, because I'm even lamer in person than I am on the innernet, but I'm game if you are :)