One of the blogs I follow has been doing a feature on how to protect yourself from cyber bullies: Blogging Anonymously. Very recently a well-known book reviewer received death threats on her home phone because of a review she wrote on the internet. This is just the latest in a long line of incidents where the internet follows you home like a crazed stalker. This is definitely a scary situation, but I have done nothing to cover up my personal information from authors/publishers/readers. I use my real name on this blog.
Well, it is not a decision I took lightly. About nine years ago I went through a pretty bad breakup. My ex decided that the best thing to do is to impersonate me on the internet. He signed up to matchmaker sites using my personal information and sent not so nice pictures he’d acquired during our time together. And then he gave these random internet people my full name, phone number, address, and place of employment. It is not a pleasant thing to get multiple texts and phone calls a day asking if I’d like to try a 4-way from some number out of the country. I nearly lost it when a co-worker emailed me confronting me about the situation.
So, I moved. I found a new job. I cancelled my phone service and joined a friend’s plan. To this day I do not own a phone in my name – and should that change, it will be unlisted.
It took me many years to push this into my past. It’s not something that I can easily forget. Just as recently as last year, I received a message on Facebook concerning this and I nearly deactivated my account. But I didn’t. I can’t let some one have that much control on my life. I’m happy to say that I can no longer find these nasty reminders by typing my name in on Google. Most of those sites he impersonated me on no longer exist. Now when I type my name, all I see is this blog and I’m reminded of all the positive experiences I’ve had with authors/publishers/bloggers/reviewers. Googling myself is now a positive experience.
I don’t want anyone to have to experience this violation for themselves. So, maybe you should use a phony name and protect your IP if you’re afraid. But I won’t. I’m not about to let bullies control me anymore. This is me.