” I bear the posts I wrote in life! I composed them; word by word, ‘graph by ‘graph, and title by title. But they are none so poisonous as those you bear Ebenezzer Blogger!”
Late last year the Beast, in a fit of pique over the results of the November elections composed and posted a profane, ranting column that pretty much lost him most of his regular readers. He recouped over time, but that post haunts him to this day; it was a mistake that will never go away because it’s securely cached in the Google Archives, like a ticking IED in the hold of a jetliner. It will forever be associated with this blog. Every once in a while it will come up on his stats page and when when he realizes that somebody’s read it he cringes, but there’s nothing he can do; even deleted off this page, it still exists somewhere.
Your blog is more public than a mannequin in a department store window; it is on full display to the entire world twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you blog under your real name, every post is inescapably, permanently YOU and it will remain so until either civilization collapses or you die.
Actually, it will go on after you die.
So before you hit that “Publish” button, you need to ask yourself a simple question: “Will I be proud to be haunted by this forever?” If the answer is anything less than a resounding “YES”, then don’t do it.
The Beast has a female friend who got deeply into the early 80’s Punk movement in Boston and thought, at age nineteen, it would be a good idea to cover her back, shoulders and arms to the wrist with winding green dragon tattoos. After a time she married a businessman and all was well until his career took off. One day, when he was up for a big promotion, his CEO invited him and the other candidates to a cocktail party. A fancy dress cocktail party. A little-black-dress-fancy-dress cocktail party.
He and his wife (now in her thirties) were confronted with a dilemma: do corporate execs and windy green dragon tatts go together? Probably not. So she was forced to wear something sleeved and high necked. Most of the other wives and girlfriends at the party were in something lower cut. She felt frumpy. There have been more parties over the years, and in all of them she has been forced to wear pretty much the same thing. And she hates it. She hates her tattoos now. A style decision made in her youth now haunts her every day.
The same holds true for your blog posts, folks. Employers now routinely run web searches on applicants names and if they read anything that could potentially embarass them they don’t hire. That’s just the way it is. Consider the two bloggers hired by the John Edwards campain: their rhetorical molotov blog-cocktails gained them a lot of attention within the Liberal Blogosphere, but they had to “resign” when some of their nuttier blog-rants were exposed. Poof!
What to do about it?
The Beast suggests you cover your butts and write two blogs. Build one under your real name and another under a pseudonym and keep them VERY separate. The “Name Blog” should be more of a marketing tool: an extended resume designed to make you look good to a potential employer. The “Rant Blog” can reflect your darker, wilder self but should be set up so you can walk away from it at any time. This means don’t link them to each other and don’t cross-post.
It’s possible that your wild blog could become so popular that you might have to step out of the shadows to reap the rewards, but not likely. And if it does happen, well, we should ALL have that kind of trouble. But at least you won’t be forced to work at Wal*Mart for the rest of your life because employers keep turning you down based on the rantings you posted on your blog drunk three years ago.