My ‘Real Name’ Policy on Social Media

I probably spend too much time on Social Media: but at least I do it in the open!

I’m most active on Twitter and LinkedIn, but also enjoy the engagement of the communities over at Hacker News and some sub-Reddits. One discussion that comes up from time-to-time is the use of one’s ‘Real Name’ versus an internet handle (eg, ‘Elja3’) or a throwaway name (that often doesn’t have a history or a presence across different social media platforms).

I have (but don’t recommend for everybody of course) a real name policy.

It makes for some different posting choices – obviously I can’t go ranting at people, though it also means I sometimes have to be vaguer than I’d like (especially when revealing information that’s also private to, eg, my business partners).

I think it helps that I have my own business, rather than being an employee (or, even harder, having a corporate social media policy to contend with). Many, many years ago the CEO of my business network asked me to remove a YouTube video from my university days. I declined (I hadn’t actually uploaded it myself anyway). One thing I learned training to be a journalist is that self-censorship is the worst kind of censorship.

This is who I am. I’ve been naked on tv, flown by a client business class to Hong Kong to give a presentation, been featured in the newspaper for my wedding day and to discuss my struggles with infertility. I’m a complex person, but I try not to hide that or simplify my external persona.

Scary as it is that someone could easily pull together so much of my life from what I’ve shared online, I also see that transparency as part of how I’m helping other people. I reserve the right to wake up one day and delete all my Twitter and Reddit history!

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