The Identity Issue

Welcome to what is probably the fourth attempt to open this blog. I keep trying to present what I think this blog is going to be about, give a historical perspective on how this blog came to be.

But then Google+ sparked a conversation on online identity, and everything went out the window. Let me start by saying that I don’t agree that forcing people to use Google’s products, including G+, under their legal name is good for anyone. There are a lot of people in the world with very valid reasons for hiding their legal name from the online world, and I support their push to keep their legal names under wraps.

When I first started playing around online, it was generally considered unsafe for someone, especially a woman, to give out her real name. I probably went through three screen names before I finally settled on “kirylin”. And I was a good little online citizen, and I guarded my real name rather fiercely until I became familiar with people. And while I was fiercely protecting my real name, I started participating in National Novel Writing Month. In keeping with my hiding nature (and because I already knew I’d eventually want to create and publish educational material under my real name), I developed a nom de plume that stuck with me longer than it really should have.

At any rate, I spent probably three years running around under two unrelated names…and then I decided I wanted to start blogging under my real name about topics Real Me was interested in. So then the game became letting people who knew about kirylin know about Rebecca without letting people who knew about Rebecca know about kirylin. It was a bizarre two-way mirror that actually was successful for the most part…

…right up until I realized that kirylin and Rebecca often wanted to say the same things, because they were both me and I have learned that most of my interests actually weave together neatly across both my personal and my professional life. So, I dropped the metaphorical two-way mirror and started merging the two identities together. The problem then became that I was trying to become “Rebecca Thomas” everywhere I could, and I was being consistently beat out.

My legal name is amazingly common. There are at least 2,000 of us in the United States alone. But it was the one who lives in Wales who keeps getting “Rebecca Thomas” ahead of the rest of us. It’s only fair. She does live near the Prime Meridian. Time is on her side. But there is evidence that we all want to be THE Rebecca Thomas, and there’s no clear way to settle it because a simple Google search will reveal that I’m part of this completely awesome sisterhood. A fair number of us are in service careers. The majority of us apparently rock at our given profession. No, you can’t join us. *wink*

In the interest of standing out, it quickly became clear that I could be Rebecca Thomas only if I added a unique identifier, which is why you will find me as kirylin nearly everywhere (I try to fix it when I find stragglers), but my real name is listed. I guess you could say I choose to identify as Rebecca “kirylin” Thomas for the sake of being findable.

But you’re probably wondering at this point what this has to do with opening my new blog. Well…nothing really. Except for that part where I realized a couple of years ago that there is virtually no line between my personal and professional interests. In keeping up two identities, I kept up many blogs that really could have been one. It would have been much less effort and far more interesting. So I’m now fixing that. It’s taken me forever (two years, really), but I’m finally ready to blog again, and with luck this blog will be a better reflection of me and my interests than any of the eight or so blogs I’ve written over the past nine years. I might even be less likely to lose interest in what I’m writing about.

It’s going to be slow around here while I continue to beat this space into something that reflects me. Feel free to explore and see what I’m getting into, maybe even say hi. And welcome!

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