I’ve been book blogging for five years now, and reviewing for seven. That’s five years of crafting and maintaining this alias, ‘Nemo’. I picked the name because it is Latin for ‘no one’. Of course, I’m a nobody sharing my opinions online and I find that ironic.
I think people who share their real names are putting themselves at unnecessary risk, especially when it comes to sharing opinions, and even more so when it comes to sharing opinions on books. In my time blogging we’ve seen websites dedicated to doxxing reviewers (link is to an information site, not the now deleted cowardly site), authors hunting down reviewers to confront (leads to Smart Bitches Trashy Book’s post on the incident) and even authors physically assaulting reviewers (link leads to a news article). All of this over the subjective opinion of a book!
I use an alias for a few reasons.
Protecting ‘Real Life ‘People From My Negative Opinions
Sometimes I bring up things from my past about people who I now consider toxic. Once when I was blogging under my real name I related a story (one paragraph in a much longer blog post) about an incident I regret involving my high school best friend and the time I let her convince me to exclude a girl who is now one of my best friends. I then realised that this ex-best friend read my blog when her then-current best friend commented (she linked to her own website and I recognised her name from Facebook comments with our mutual contact), telling me I needed to ‘move on’ from high school. I also once wrote a not too glowing account of my mother, and then my mother found my blog. I write under a pseudonym to protect the people I post about from any negative things I might write about them.
The backlash against reviewers from authors and even other reviewers has been pretty awful during my time blogging. The whole reason I started blogging was because someone was trying to silence bloggers, but I didn’t want anyone finding out my real identity. I sure as hell don’t want anyone to be able to search my real name and find any kind of vitriol spewed against me for someone being offended that my opinion was different to theirs. Some people are just waiting for someone to admit something remotely controversial, just so they can be outraged by it. Even then, I haven’t really had any harsh opinions on books anyway. I really admire people who fearlessly use their real names and don’t care about their reputation. I also do it to protect myself as an adult primarily reading YA books. There’s plenty of people out there who think YA is for teens only. But I love it, so that’s what I’ll read. Also, I used to blog a lot during my day job, and I didn’t want anyone to find out, or any future employers finding this blog and finding out I hate their favourite book or something.
Protecting Loved Ones
I have some loved ones in high profile jobs and I wouldn’t want anyone using my opinion against them. It would be so easy to strike a blow against my loved ones by listening to people who criticise me for my own opinion.
Freedom of Opinion
I can share controversial opinions under this name that I can’t necessarily share under my real name, like that I tend to avoid male authors, books marketed at adults tend to be boring, accusations of cultural appropriation is the opposite of embracing diversity, that the blogging community is strangely like high school, and that reviewers can be fiendishly nasty sometimes, and also really fucking stupid.
I Control My Image
Using a pseudonym and never posting real pictures of myself means that I have a bit of control over my image. I don’t want my photo posted somewhere I have no control over if someone screenshots a twitter retweet or a Goodreads review or anything like that. Because I’ve never posted a photo, neither can anyone else.