Anonymity: Is It Right For Your Classic Movie Blog?

Note: Yours truly will indulge in self-reference at the beginning of this post. Skip down to around the middle of the page to "Is Anonymity Right for Your Classic Movie Blog?" for helpful tips.

Sometimes it's great to withhold your name and personal information from the public. Sometimes a blogger just wants to discuss classic movies with an online community without attaching her/his real name to anything; it's a fun hobby; there's no reason to make yourself too vulnerable. We all enjoy our privacy, right?  I have done so since starting this classic movie blog under the random name Java Bean Rush.

As the years flew by and yours truly kept writing, when someone offline asked what I enjoy doing, I couldn't tell them about my pseudonym or this blog Java's Journey, this project that was increasingly taking up a lot of my spare time; I couldn't talk about this awesome community of classic movie bloggers with which I am affiliated. When I went away on a trip to ferret out details of a classic movie-related event, I was hesitant even to tell the family. They know I have a blog, but I don't want to bore my nearest and dearest with movie talk all the time.

You, dear reader, are a secret in my life...
  • Partly because I never got around to telling you my real name. (Tempus fugit, doesn't it?)
  • Partly because I'm afraid of making a mistake online and the whole world will know about it. If I do, well, they cannot trace it back to my real name.
  • Partly because I believed it would seem unprofessional if a prospective employer, client or business partner were to conduct an online search and find my chicken scratchings about movies. I might come across as frivolous.
  • Partly because, if I have to talk about this blog, I go into that uncomfortable selling mode. Little Miss Valedictorian must convince the listener that she's doing great things with her spare moments. In those moments when I've slipped up and mentioned this classic movie blog, people have asked me, "who has time for all that?" Suddenly, all of these movie reviews seem absolutely trivial; I feel the need to defend my community of classic movie bloggers. For many people, watching a classic movie is somewhat understandable, but writing about it is a waste of time. I say, that's ridiculous! These treasures are worth watching and writing about.  I finally asked myself, "Well then, if you think these movies are worth watching and worth writing about, aren't they worth talking about? Then, stop being ashamed of telling offline people what you do."

It feels safe and comfortable just writing without the need to give up any privacy. People don't know you personally, they simply react or respond to your writing. However, if I want to take Java's Journey from hobby to business, or if I wish to place all of my different projects under one umbrella, then my actual name might become important.

Hello. My name is Deborah Thomas (You may still call me Java). Some of you know my real name by now, others of you I'm meeting for the first time. (Big internet hug)

I had planned a big roll out of my real name, maybe a prize or two for the best guess, but the more I planned, the more I procrastinated. Rolling it out this way - in a casual, informal way, no big buildup or hoopla- is probably a mistake business-wise, but it's more organic to the author. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Before I decided to reveal my name, I procrastinated considered it for at least five years. You don't have to take that long to make a decision about whether to make your classic movie blog anonymous. Here's the best that I can tell you for now.

Is Anonymity Right for Your Classic Movie Blog?

Keep It Anonymous
  • If you would like to keep as much of your online life as private as possible. For your own reasons, you do not want your offline life associated with the classic movie blog. Somehow it could be potentially hazardous to offline plans.
  • If the blog is a hobby, but not a growing business. Business becomes complicated when you begin using pseudonyms. Someone somewhere will have to know your real name in order to do business with you, even if he or she is your representative.
  • If you feel safer or more comfortable that way.  Sometimes the internet feels like a frenzied crowd and blogging anonymously is a way to participate on your own terms. Just know that these things are not as private as you think. Any online activity potentially leads back to you, if a searcher is persistent enough.
  • If you'd rather people concentrate mostly on your words. If your gender, or hairstyle or other personal or identifying information will distract people from your message, writing anonymously might be of use.
  • If you don't mind people referring to you with the wrong gendered pronouns. I don't know why, but when I write online using the name of an inanimate object, people think I'm a dude. I'm fine with it, because (1)I haven't told people I'm not a guy, so they have a 50-50 chance of guessing incorrectly, (2) it's funny and (3) it creates one more layer of misinformation and privacy.

Use Your Real Name
  • If you want to meet up with your fellow classic movie bloggers. As online movie reviewers become a more common thing, meeting offline with these like-minded people will become an option. Classic movie events, like the TCM Film Festival or cruise, are becoming increasingly popular venues for these meetups. Using your real name might be preferable in these cases; it certainly will be less confusing for your readers.
  • If you want to be able to tell people offline what you do. It's very awkward when people ask about your after-work life and the first thing that comes to mind is your classic movie blog, but it's an anonymous thing, so you hesitate and tell them about some other hobby.
  • If you want to develop a full-time business around your blog. I haven't found a way to do this without connecting my real name to something connected with the blog. If some one knows a way to do everything in business anonymously, please share in the comments.
  • If you want to be a little more vulnerable with your readers. People seem to trust you more and are open with you if you are vulnerable with them first; sharing your name is one way to do it. Yes, some people will take advantage of showing your underbelly, but you must decide if reaching out and connecting with people gels with your goals and is worth it.
  • If you wish to create a cohesive online presence. You might have projects in addition to a classic movie blog and would like them all to come under one banner. Your name could be used as that all-encompassing, permanent umbrella, even if the projects change.
  • If you are willing to appear imperfect in public.  Mark Twain , a man who is known mostly by his pseudonym, said "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." With my pseudonym, Java, I have had the best of both worlds - I can "open my mouth," give my opinions and be totally mistaken and it doesn't hurt my real name. But I was suffering from the Imposter Syndrome. 
        When I realized that I put just as much effort into my anonymous classic movie blog as I would    any work under my real name; when I realized that my online work is just as important to me as my offline work; when I realized that I have weathered mistakes in offline life pretty well, so perhaps online mistakes can be overcome too, then whether I used my real name didn't matter so much.
  • If you've considered it for a while and have weighed the pros and cons. Since the internet is a fairly new thing, we don't yet know all of the cons to using your real name online. But don't let that stop you completely. If you are the same person everywhere you go, than the internet is just one more place. Just know that once you bring this genie out of the bottle, there's no going back. After all, the world now has the Way Back Machine where anyone can look at old versions of your website.

Are you now, or have you ever been, an anonymous blogger? Why did you decide to blog without your real name?  Did you eventually use your real name? Why? Give us some tips or your story in the comments below.

For more Classic Movie Blog Tips, click here.


  1. This is a thoughtful and very interesting post, Java, especially about the pressures of anonymity. I hope you enjoy easing into this new phase of using your real name, and find that both you and your readers will be comfortable using both Java and Deborah. I've never blogged anonymously, nor saw it as a hobby, but as part of my professional writing, so using my real name was an easy decision. But I get a kick out of the various pseudonyms people have chosen, as colorful as the names of their blogs. I'm not that clever.

    1. Jacqueline, it's great to know that someone started classic movie blogging with a plan in mind. I certainly didn't. :)

      I attended a business conference this past week and heard a couple of simple tips which have really helped me with transitioning from anonymity to exposure.They are no-brainers, but when a person is afraid, she doesn't think of these things.

      1.Talk about the business to 100 people to hone your message.
      2.Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself. (This is a huge stumbling block for me.)

      Anyway, it's always a pleasure when you drop in.
      - Java


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