You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Perils of Blogging

CNN has a story out about a Pittsburgh-based blogger who was fired from her job after revealing her real name on her blog.

Can we just all agree that this woman's employers are sniveling, cowardly weasels? Yes? Thank you. Easy call, I know.

Now, to be sure, there are certainly some creepy and annoying bloggers out there. The guy(?) tormenting model Liskula Cohen comes to mind.

Still, firing someone for offering their opinions, even if they are satirical, irreverent, or comical is a bit, oh... what's the word? On the tip of my tongue... rhymes with "hashist." I'm sure I'll think of it later.

However, the now jobless Pittsburgh blogger has relatively kind words for her former employer, so perhaps we can downgrade them to "affable pinheads."

There are many reasons people work under pen names, stage names, or assumed names. Some of them are dark, unethical, even sinister. All right, perhaps that's a bad line of reasoning.

Still, most are simply avoiding exposing their families to the shame of being related to unemployed humorist bloggers. I speak from experience here, having close friends in this exact situation.

I also completely disagree with Heather B. Armstrong, author of the blog Dooce, who was quoted as saying, "I think if you're doing something anonymously you've got some issues going on... There's a reason that you're hiding."

Let's see, Ms. Armstrong (if that is her real name) was fired from a job after her bosses discovered her blog, which she posts to using her real name. (OK, maybe it is.) So, maybe instead of assuming that pen name and anonymous bloggers are uniformly neurotics -or worse -with "issues,"is she strong enough to point that high-powered perception at herself* and recognize that maybe some bloggers enjoy keeping their day jobs, the ones that buy bread, Marmite, and keep the heating on during winter? Not all of us can get AT&T and McDonald's adverts on our sites.

Maybe she won't be so flippant when Morgan Spurlock and the Center of Science in the Public Interest go after her for faciliating Happy Meal sales.**

However, it's an opinion, and I'd never consider firing her for it, even though, again, someone did, the inglourious basterds***. Opinions, especially the non-malicious, factually-grounded ones make the world more interesting place.

In the long run though, I personally would rather have "issues" and a job than be unemployed for expressing myself, no matter how much of an oddball I may be****. Personally, I do have issues, but regular readers of this blog (all three of you, God Bless You) are well acquainted with them and no one's put out a restraining order yet.

Of course, we've ALL got issues. Convoluted, twist-tie, leftover pasta issues. Some people blog to work them out. (The rest of us are entertainers, making a cheap stab at a fantasy career move.) And there are numerous reasons to write under a pseudonym: shyness, insecurity about the writing, whistleblowing, fear of fame, fear of the public, fear of prank phone calls, fear of having your flat toliet-papered, fear of stalkers, fear of people shouting your real name in public lavatories over the urinals, fear of being invited onto chat shows and having to sit between Chris Brown and Rhianna, etc.

As long as people aren't slandering others (and if you're a public figure in the U. S. of A., good luck reaching that threshold) a good pen name and a nice blog are perfectly legit ways to communicate. Blast it, if pseudonyms were good enough for Silence Dogood, it's good enough for the rest of us. Let the issues flow! Just keep it clean.

*Yes, I am quoting Silence of the Lambs. Nothing personal meant by it, I was just in the mood.
** Mind you, I'd be pulling for you, Heather. Also, if you have any information on how to get in contact with the good people at McDonald's and AT&T, my e-mail address is on the sidebar!
*** Too hip? Blame Quinton Taratino.
**** If only for using so many asterisks in footnotes. If the scale is Mount Everest and Charles Manson is the peak, I'm probably at one of the moderately-placed base camps where there's still plenty of oxygen and you can get a decent meal. I'm not really given much consideration to climbing or its tenuous relationship to footnotes, but when you get to thinking about it, there's none whatsoever. Bupkus. Zilch. In fact, I'm sorry I troubled you with the whole analogy.

Labels: ,