An interesting question was passed by me last week and it’s got me thinking. When it comes to Social Media, do you name names?
I’m not talking about being a name dropper, like “Hey, I saw Nathan Fillion at Comic-Con!”
Although, he is pretty darn cute and I actually DID see him at Comic-Con.
Celebrity name dropping aside, what I mean is when you update Facebook or Twitter, heck even on your blogs, do you maintain a sense of privacy for your family and friends, or do you use their real names?
We’re told that, as authors, we need to use our name. Our real name, not a pseudonym or pen name. We need to be authentic and genuine.
In the next breath, we’re told to only put personal information on our personal account on Facebook and to never, ever, ever say the names of our children, dogs, hamsters, or chickens in our posts. This is followed up with the advice to have a fan page just for readers and fellow writers and a personal page just for family and friends.
Apparently, the two don’t mix. Your family and friends can’t possibly be fans or readers and heaven forbid if any of your readers find out anything personal about you!
This idea just seems to scream multiple personality disorder to me. I mean, how can I be authentic if I’m not sharing my genuine self on Social Media and interacting with all my peeps – fans, readers, writers, family, and friends? And then to do this without naming names? Madness I tell you, utter madness!
I started to pay a little more attention to how everyone I know approaches this subject. Some of my friends use cute monikers for their kids and spouses – Thing 01 and Thing 02 seem to be very popular. DH (darling husband), DD (darling daughter), DS (darling son) work for the family. Others put their kids’ names and pictures up all over Facebook – young, old, doesn’t matter. It seemed to be evenly split between the namers and non-namers.
Well, that didn’t help at all. Next, I took a look at writer friends specifically. How do they handle personal vs. professional posts?
Some writer friends will only post personal information on their ‘Friend’ wall on Facebook, keeping all writing stuff to their fan page. They tend to double dip, meaning they post the same writer stuff on both accounts, but only family/personal stuff on their ‘Friend’ wall. The double dipping only bothers me when they spam my wall with pleas to buy their book three times a day. For those of you counting, that means six times. Yikes.
Other writer friends have only a ‘Friend’ account on Facebook and post everything there – writing stuff and personal stuff. Either they’re like me, unpublished (so far!) and so they don’t need a fan page yet, or they are published, but like the intimacy the ‘Friend’ wall provides.
Why all the fuss? To keep our identities safe from those creepy people who troll the internet looking for their next victim.
I still didn’t know the answer. Should I name names?
Way back in the day when our daughter started using the internet, we’d tell her, be very careful online with what information you share. You might think you’re making friends with a sweet kid your age, but really it could be some naked dude calling himself ‘Teenhottie.’
Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world and yes, we have to be vigilant and keep our children safe, but at the same time we have to inform them and empower them to make good decisions and use good judgements. David and I monitor our son’s computer use as well as his cell phone. If there is something hinky going on, we immediately address the issue and explain to him why we’ve taken the action we did.
Yes, I worry about the pedophile who might pretend to be a gamer online to get access to my son, but the threat I truly fear is fear itself. We are supposed to build an online community, but if we put up all these parameters and walls to keep out the unworthy, aren’t we then prohibiting others from entering our village?
Our kids have grown up with computers in a way that I never did. They understand the lingo and can traverse the vast expanse of cyber space with the ease of brushing their teeth. It’s second nature to them. We trust them online because we communicate with them about the risks and dangers that exist on the internet.
Much the same as we talk to them about the dangers of bad guys in the real world. The online threat is real, I know that, but so is the face-to-face abductor who might approach Michael and tell him he has a hurt puppy in his car. I know my kids, they love animals and would want to help, but we’ve told them so many times that the hurt puppy isn’t worth their life. If there really is an injured animal, the person won’t mind you calling the police for help, right?
When the question of naming names came up, I asked David, ‘Is this something we need to be worried about? I mean, are we putting our children at risk by printing their names online?’ We talked that night and came to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong answer. If our kids were younger, I’d probably refer to them by a cute nickname, but they are old enough to understand our concerns about the internet. And smart enough to keep personal information off their accounts.
Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re comfortable posting.
As for Facebook, I choose to include family and strangers in my ‘Friend’s’ list. I’ve made some amazing, real friends on Social Media, women and men who enrich my life and make me a better writer and person. Conversely, if there is someone who makes my gut clench, I unfriend them. I’ve only had to do that twice, but each time I knew it was the right decision. I don’t friend just anyone, or follow blindly on Twitter, but at the same time I don’t make people jump through hoops to find me.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you keep your private life private, or do you share your life online? Do you have cute nicknames for your children and husband or name names?