Do You Name Names? Finding the Right Etiquette for Social Media.

An interesting question was passed by me last week and it’s got me thinking. When it comes to Social Media, do you name names?

I’m not talking about being a name dropper, like “Hey, I saw Nathan Fillion at Comic-Con!”

Although, he is pretty darn cute and I actually DID see him at Comic-Con.

Celebrity name dropping aside, what I mean is when you update Facebook or Twitter, heck even on your blogs, do you maintain a sense of privacy for your family and friends, or do you use their real names?

We’re told that, as authors, we need to use our name. Our real name, not a pseudonym or pen name. We need to be authentic and genuine.

In the next breath, we’re told to only put personal information on our personal account on Facebook and to never, ever, ever say the names of our children, dogs, hamsters, or chickens in our posts. This is followed up with the advice to have a fan page just for readers and fellow writers and a personal page just for family and friends.

Apparently, the two don’t mix. Your family and friends can’t possibly be fans or readers and heaven forbid if any of your readers find out anything personal about you!

This idea just seems to scream multiple personality disorder to me. I mean, how can I be authentic if I’m not sharing my genuine self on Social Media and interacting with all my peeps – fans, readers, writers, family, and friends? And then to do this without naming names? Madness I tell you, utter madness!

I started to pay a little more attention to how everyone I know approaches this subject. Some of my friends use cute monikers for their kids and spouses – Thing 01 and Thing 02 seem to be very popular. DH (darling husband), DD (darling daughter), DS (darling son) work for the family. Others put their kids’ names and pictures up all over Facebook – young, old, doesn’t matter. It seemed to be evenly split between the namers and non-namers.

Well, that didn’t help at all. Next, I took a look at writer friends specifically. How do they handle personal vs. professional posts?

Some writer friends will only post personal information on their ‘Friend’ wall on Facebook, keeping all writing stuff to their fan page. They tend to double dip, meaning they post the same writer stuff on both accounts, but only family/personal stuff on their ‘Friend’ wall. The double dipping only bothers me when they spam my wall with pleas to buy their book three times a day. For those of you counting, that means six times. Yikes.

Other writer friends have only a ‘Friend’ account on Facebook and post everything there – writing stuff and personal stuff. Either they’re like me, unpublished (so far!) and so they don’t need a fan page yet, or they are published, but like the intimacy the ‘Friend’ wall provides.

Why all the fuss? To keep our identities safe from those creepy people who troll the internet looking for their next victim.

I still didn’t know the answer. Should I name names?

Way back in the day when our daughter started using the internet, we’d tell her, be very careful online with what information you share. You might think you’re making friends with a sweet kid your age, but really it could be some naked dude calling himself ‘Teenhottie.’

Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world and yes, we have to be vigilant and keep our children safe, but at the same time we have to inform them and empower them to make good decisions and use good judgements. David and I monitor our son’s computer use as well as his cell phone. If there is something hinky going on, we immediately address the issue and explain to him why we’ve taken the action we did.

Yes, I worry about the pedophile who might pretend to be a gamer online to get access to my son, but the threat I truly fear is fear itself. We are supposed to build an online community, but if we put up all these parameters and walls to keep out the unworthy, aren’t we then prohibiting others from entering our village?

Our kids have grown up with computers in a way that I never did. They understand the lingo and can traverse the vast expanse of cyber space with the ease of brushing their teeth. It’s second nature to them. We trust them online because we communicate with them about the risks and dangers that exist on the internet.

Much the same as we talk to them about the dangers of bad guys in the real world. The online threat is real, I know that, but so is the face-to-face abductor who might approach Michael and tell him he has a hurt puppy in his car. I know my kids, they love animals and would want to help, but we’ve told them so many times that the hurt puppy isn’t worth their life. If there really is an injured animal, the person won’t mind you calling the police for help, right?

When the question of naming names came up, I asked David, ‘Is this something we need to be worried about? I mean, are we putting our children at risk by printing their names online?’ We talked that night and came to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong answer. If our kids were younger, I’d probably refer to them by a cute nickname, but they are old enough to understand our concerns about the internet. And smart enough to keep personal information off their accounts.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re comfortable posting.

As for Facebook, I choose to include family and strangers in my ‘Friend’s’ list. I’ve made some amazing, real friends on Social Media, women and men who enrich my life and make me a better writer and person. Conversely, if there is someone who makes my gut clench, I unfriend them. I’ve only had to do that twice, but each time I knew it was the right decision. I don’t friend just anyone, or follow blindly on Twitter, but at the same time I don’t make people jump through hoops to find me.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you keep your private life private, or do you share your life online? Do you have cute nicknames for your children and husband or name names?


30 thoughts on “Do You Name Names? Finding the Right Etiquette for Social Media.

  1. When I blog, I usually refer to Hubby, Son and Daughter. But in the same token, I brag about my son’s go karting, so it wouldn’t be to hard for someone to put the two together. I worry about my children more than me, but at the same time, my son, who is only 15, has a personal facebook page, an athlete page for his racing, and his own You Tube channel which is quite popular, so there really isn’t any hiding. Even if you think you want to try. I think you just have to be genuine with people and if someone seems creepy, then do what you did and unfriend them.

    • I know, it’s tough because our kids are so internet savvy now days that they have youtube accounts, FB, Twitter, etc. While we’re trying to protect them, they’re out promoting themselves!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jillian.

  2. My children are 19 and 21 so I don’t have the same concerns a mother of younger children would rightfully have. I don’t mention their names mostly because my daughter would be horrified. She prefers to control her on line persona and I’m ok with that. My son wouldn’t be ready to move to another state over it, but I made it a policy in the beginning that I wouldn’t name names unless the person involved told me it was ok. For examply, my post on “War Off the Beach,” names my father. I asked him before it went to print or on line. Luckily for me, he was ok with it 🙂

    • I get ya, Ruth. Before I posted my blog about my daughter, I sent it to her for approval. My son is in a ‘no photos of me on FB’ stage right now, but then he’ll be all about me sharing photos. I can’t keep up anymore!

      I think asking beforehand is always a good idea, so glad your dad said yes!

  3. There’s really nowhere to hide. I understand that, but I can’t help making it more difficult for those trying to find the people I care about. I’m putting myself out there to some extent and I want to connect socially, but I want others to have the opportunity to choose. As you say, no right answer.

    • Yep, with social media so prevalent now, even putting the toughest privacy settings on FB doesn’t matter if you have friends who keep everything public. My husband often gets posts from one of my friends on his wall. It’s bizarre.

      Thanks for visiting, Nancy!

  4. Since 2005, I’ve been writing in my weekly paper about Dale (hubby) and Marcus (son). By the time I came around to Facebook, I thought the cat was kind of out of the bag. Do I worry about weirdos? Stalkers? Crazy people showing up on my front door to ask me if they can tour my house and see if it’s really as messy as I say it is? Not yet.
    I have an author’s page as well as a personal page, but I haven’t used it for much more than posting a new blog or column or news about a book release. I think I’ve only got 35 followers and they’re all FB friends of mine. Until that changes, I’m doing minimal posting on the author page.
    I may be doing it all wrong. Let’s face it – I’m sometimes the poster child for Doing It Wrong. I’ll get it right someday.

  5. Interesting post and something I’ve been pondering for quite sometime.
    For my blog, I call my husband Hubby and my step-son The Dude. Hubby wouldn’t care if I used his name, and I believe I have in early posts. But I thought for continuity sake, if someone came across my blog without knowing anything about me, using the term hubby would make it more clear who I was talking about rather than Scott. Scott – who is this Scott guy? Boyfriend? Friend? Guy she knows? I thought this sort of solved that for newbies. And I kind of liked it – term of endearment really.
    With The Dude, he’s 19 so “fear” of him being taken advantage of isn’t an issue but more trying to respect his privacy. For example, if anyone “googled” his name for say a job application, I wouldn’t want them coming across information about him on my blog that he didn’t choose himself to post. I mean, not that there’d be anything there that I think would be harmful or mean etc but still….I try to respect that this is my blog world, not his.
    Although I am sure anyone could do any research and make the connection, I try not to make it THAT out there.
    As for Facebook, I haven’t gotten to the point of a fan page or outing my blog persona to my friends and family there. So it’s easy – I don’t post anything blog related. No biggee.
    When I come out, as a writer and blogger, I am not entirely sure what I’ll do. I like the idea of a “fan” page to keep things separate (mainly photos of my personal life etc to strangers) so that is likely the route I’ll take. I know it means I’ll likely end up possibly inundating people with double info or it’ll make me caution about what I do post and how often so as not to become a spammer but I think it’ll be the best option for me. That being said…we’ll see what happens when I get there! 

    • You know, Natalie, I never thought that readers might not know that David is my husband, etc. What a good point! I might have to clarify that somewhere so readers don’t get confused.

      I try to not make it easy to find us as well, but as I replied to Jillian’s comment, that gets hard when the kids are out there themselves.

      It’s a tough one. I say keep vigilant, but open minded. Right? Ugh! I still don’t know!

  6. Interesting topic – was just discussing this with Mr Right last night. On some sites, FB for example, we all use our names, but on my blogs everyone has a nickname & I don’t always have distinguishing comments so you might not know it’s me & mine. But on some of those blogs, the readers ARE folks who know who we all are anyway. I used to be much more careful pre-FB days, when it was just blogging & the kiddos were all younger, but I now have 2 “adult” children & we are all on FB with friends & family & (for me) work acquaintances. When one child asked a few years ago not to be tagged in photos, we obliged. Mr Right has made his requests known for what parts of our life are private & I respect that and will also oblige. The “right” answer I think is what is right for you & yours in which environment.

    • Interesting that you use names on FB and not the blog. I think too, you nailed it when you said parts of our life are private – I don’t post things or blog about things that are very private and I think that’s why it is easier for me to mix personal and public.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kia!

  7. I’m pretty open really, I suppose, although I’m a bit picky about who I have as a Facebook friend. I won’t friend strangers. I don’t have to have met them in person – some of them are people I’ve only ever known online, through gaming, but I have to have had some kind of interaction with them and think of them as an online friend.

    I made an author page, it has 7 likes so far, and I made it for when I’m published so I’m not actively looking for followers as yet. I don’t know if I’m going to be comfortable letting strangers into my friend space so it’s there just in case. My children are 25 and 27 so no need to worry about them, they know the score, probably better than I do since they grew up with the internet.

    There’s a need to be careful. Not giving away your address, date of birth or any other piece of information people could use to steal your identity is the main thing. Sharing partners and children’s names isn’t so bad, I think, but I agree that it’s whatever you’re comfortable with.

    • You have a fan page? I’m going to go ‘like’ you right away! AND you game? What kind of gaming, online? Board games? Intriguing!

      Exactly. I’m not going to post my social security number on my FB wall, or Tweet my bank account number, but I do worry about those that will actively try to find that information. To some degree, if they have the smarts, they’ll figure it out no matter how many blocks I put up. It’s hard sometimes to know how much is enough.

      • Thanks for the like Tameri, and the friend request! See I would definitely add someone like you as a friend – we’ve interacted, I have a ‘sense’ of who you are and I’m not afraid that you’re a mad stalker lady, not yet anyway *grin*.

        The gaming has been mostly MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game if you’re not familiar). Things like World of Warcraft, Everquest, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan. They’re persistent worlds where other people play too, so I’ve made a few friends over the years playing those. I used to play them way too much, but don’t as much now. In fact I’m not playing one right now – waiting for Skyrim to release, which is a single player.

  8. I’m careful on facebook. My privacy settings are tight. There are places there to click on “public.” But I don’t want my friends and family to ever be compromised. And I have some raunchy family members as well. Love em, but others might be offended.

    I reserve public places for twitter and my blog.

    Please know that obesity is most often a genetric reaction to foods different than the norm, a brain wired and driven addiction, stimulated by false advice to “diet”, the plethora of huge portions and junk food that is part of much of the American way of life, even in our schools. The the spin and negative connotation of the picture on the post was upsetting to me, one who has suffered the hopeless battle with obesity my whole life. I finally took the last chance I had for good health and had gastric sleeve surgery. Many think of this as a cop out. But everyone who is obese understands. My reaction to the photo was not “ew” but to send my compassion and hope for a solution to the poor man. Most have no idea the difficulty he faces with every move he makes.

    • Hey Marion, thanks for stopping by! I have tight FB privacy settings, too. The problem can occur if you have friends who set theirs to ‘public’.

      I’m so sorry the picture upset you. I suppose I could’ve used a picture of a naked skinny man, but this was the first royalty free one I found under ‘man on computer’. The point of the picture isn’t to denigrate obese people, it’s a visual reminder that there is a false sense of security online and the anonymity the internet gives people is dangerous. If my son is in a chat room, he might not be chatting with a 13 year-old boy – it might be a middle-aged male looking for a victim.

      I am so proud of you for having your surgery and doing what you needed to do to better your life. I right there with you – I’ve got 80 pounds to lose (I’ll be blogging about this in two weeks) and I know all about judgements about my weight. I hope you’ll share your story of the surgery and subsequent weight loss on your blog. You have an amazing story to tell.

      • I understood what the picture was for. It’s a running internet ‘joke’ within gaming communities that most girls on the internet are actually a 300lb trucker called Earl. As one who has been too heavy for a long, time, it can be difficult to not take every ‘fat joke’ as a personal slight, though, so I can understand why you were upset Marion.

        I too am on a weight-loss journey. I joined weightwatchers in June to help me along and have been exercising on the stationary bike for a half hour every morning. I started at 277 pounds, and am down to 253. Only another hundred to go. It will be good to read about your weight-loss journey, Tameri, maybe we can cheer each other on 🙂

  9. Every time I read about this issue, I get paranoid. Not that it’s not good to talk about it! Like you, I have no idea what’s right or wrong. I wanted to connect to people, so I made my FB page accessible, but then some random people I didn’t know found me. So I created the Fan Page for them. I don’t name people, but anyone you have a conversation with in the comments has their full name displayed. To be honest, I also fudge on some details, like what city I live in or my birthday. I don’t use names of friends or family who are not on FB themselves. I hope I’m maintaining a good measure of protection, but I love crime shows, so I’ve seen what can happen. :-/

    • Ugh, I used to watch Criminal Minds, but it scared me so much and made me totally paranoid!

      I think you’re doing everything you need to do. Be online, be safe, use common sense, it’s all we can do. Good luck with the fan page!

  10. I’ve been *trying* to keep my facebook friends just that and direct clients and blog readers to those respective pages. Doesn’t work well, though! I’d prefer not to ‘friend’ business contacts on facebook but some folks want to check things out there before hiring me. Sigh… I’m not overly worried about the privacy thing, though. I’ve been working for home for a long time, have a listed phone number and can be found any of a zillion ways online. (actually thought it was funny that a client recently said she couldn’t find my number… 60k+ results in google, most have a link to contact info). I don’t have a whole heck of a lot I want/need hidden. I’m not planning on being a best-selling author, though.

    • I know what you mean. I was trying to keep Google + to just writers, but my friends and family found me (like you!) and so I’m just going with the flow.

      Too funny that the lady couldn’t find your phone number. My mom keeps her number unlisted and gets way more solicitor phone calls than me. Bizarre.

      Thanks for stopping by, Valerie!

  11. My wife also has a web presence, so there’s no issue with naming her. On the other hand, I just posted a video today about a live arts event that I produced last April that had three kids under 10 who were participating. They’re credited in the video at the end, but just like we did in the program at the time, we only used their first names.

    • Hey Kurt,
      Thanks for commenting! I used to take pictures for my son’s elementary school website and each year we had to get permission from the parents to put the kids on the site. I was always nervous about it, since they would have a face and the elementary school’s name, but there was never an incident and we didn’t use names. Still, there were many parents that said no, so I got real good at the blur feature on Photoshop!
      I’m with you on the web presence thing – if they’re online already then naming them isn’t really an issue. Unless it’s your teenage son who decides that week to be shy. (see comments above. kids are weird)
      ; )

  12. I think you have to find the balance that works for you. My FB page has been reserved for friends and family because we throw a lot of personal information, experiences, and history on the “friend wall”….but really, none of it is a state secret. By now Mom’s figured out I wasn’t quite the angel she wanted me to be, and besides, she doesn’t FB much anyhow.

    Security and safety are important, but like you say, teaching our kids how to be safe is a big part of the learning process. Keeping them in an online bubble is just as risky as keeping them in a physical bubble in the offline world. Negotiating succesfully in each venue is critical. There are always going to be scary stories about terrible events that make us want to curl up and protect ourselves and our personal information, but in reality for $14.95 you can purchase all the personal details you want from public information houses.

    Anyonymity is transparent.

    • Isn’t that $14.95 thing frightening!?! I was shocked how much information they have for free and then to get more for a few bucks. Yikes. Makes me wish I’d re thought some stuff I did as a kid.

      Totally agree – bubbles of any sort can be detrimental. At some point reality and life will catch up the the child and if they aren’t prepared, uh-oh.

      Glad you could stop by and chat!

  13. There’s some really good things to think about in this post. For me, I have to worry about maintaining a couple of different personas online – I’m a pastor and a fantasy writer. I’ve got a personal blog, my writing blog, and I’m also supposed to be doing the church blog. I talk about things on my writing blog and on my facebook fan page that I wouldn’t talk about on my personal blog and church blog, because I have two different audiences. I don’t drop names because of that, unless I know for certain it’s someone who doesn’t mind (aka my friend Lissa who’s a RL friend, and a writing/blogging buddy).

    • Rebekah,

      How do you keep it all straight! If I had to do more than one blog I’d go insane. Well, more so than I already am.

      This blog actually made me start thinking about my online information more than I had before. I think I’m actually more careful about naming names now than I was. Weird.

      Are you ever worried that people will find your personal blog that are from your church? Just curious. ; )

      • It’s not too bad, my personal blog hasn’t been updated in a month or so now, and I’m still working on the church blog >_<.

        I'm not worried about audience crossing from personal and church blog, and vice versa, cause I'm writing for pretty much the same audience with those two.

        I wanted to keep my writing blog a little bit away from my family, but that didn't happen :S. I do get some interesting talks from my mother occasionally, actually just got one the other day about joining the 'monsterfest' blogfest. Oh well! The 'All Hallows Eve' contest I'm going to announce tomorrow will probably get another talk . . . I don't dare call it Halloween, that would be a whole other can of worms!

      • Sounds like some interesting writing material here. Hey, at least your family reads your blog – that’s supportive, right?

        I love your blog and finally remembered to subscribe. And comment! Not just lurk in the corner.

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