When my Smashing Magazine article went live a couple of months ago a small discussion happened regarding my choice of words where I said I could have a “one true version” of yourself online.
Behind my two extremes of either silence or self deprecating jokes, is a socially anxious human with baggage. I am not my “true self” online. I wish I was. But this, and I suppose this blog and my current social media activity, is indeed a true version of myself. Without any quote marks. But it is one of the many versions I have and they all have many things in common between them.
A name can be an important part of one's online identity and can be almost anything one chooses to represent themselves.
Quote from the page "name" in the IndieWeb wiki.
Many years ago, I wanted to be online without using my real name as I didn’t feel that it was completely safe for me. Not only that but Ana Rodrigues is a very common name so, in many popular websites, that username was already taken. I always liked speech balloons so this name came from that idea. And it was available almost everywhere! I would then use in the name fields something like “Ana R” in an attempt to deceive search results. It was around 2018 that I began to use the full surname in social media because around that time I began to give a couple of talks in meet-ups.
This domain, where this post lives, became the entry point from social media. When applying for jobs, I would redirect people to a domain that used my then legal name. It would still reference this blog somewhere but I was indeed creating two identities. Even if one of them was very easily discoverable (from my “professional domain” to this one), one would have to put in the effort. So two entry points: one more watered down for job prospects and with information that the recruiter would immediately want but keeping the door open if they wanted to know a bit more about myself as a person.
There were times where I thought I regretted this decision. It crossed my mind that having only one domain to represent me would be the best marketing (this whole sentence is a can of worms). I wondered if ohhelloana.blog was memorable enough. If I have a professional domain to apply for jobs, does this mean that this is my unprofessional domain? I wondered if I should buy all possible TLD combinations to ensure people would land here. In panic, I also bought ohhelloana.dev and anarodrigues.dev as soon as these became available. I wanted to be memorable without having to give up the illusion of privacy and safety that I created many years ago.
Overthinking this whole thing
Anyway, I feel very IndieWeb for having two different domains with two different information goals. Both represent me. I think a lot of people find themselves in this situation and it is a tiny bit harder when they work for the web.
For many of us, who work for the web, our domain is a way to stand out in the job market and, especially for freelancers, a way to secure gigs. A professional identity, a means to reach a goal. Perhaps a place where we can’t relax with ourselves as we become a product to be sold. From my perspective, it looks as if we allow our identity, our whole person, to perhaps glow a bit more in certain social media profiles while we truly constraint ourselves when it comes to our personal websites. It is interesting because in quite a few job interviews, you’re tested if you’re “a culture fit” (which is another can of worms).
This isn’t a criticism. In fact, for many people, this is the ideal and the expected thing. It fits their purpose and what they are comfortable with sharing and it is absolutely fine. It only becomes complicated when that isn’t the case.
The way I identify myself within the IndieWeb community is by this particular domain. I’m happy with that.
Lastly, Ana Rodrigues, is legally my old name. I decided to remove a couple of my names and add new ones some time ago. Isn’t that funny?
There’s no conclusion to this post. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. But this is my experience and how I am dealing with it right now.