The Face Behind the Blog

We have all learned the pros and cons of blogging anonymously this week.

Perhaps Pittsburgh’s best-known blogger, “PittGirl” outed herself  this week. The move made headlines in a way few in local cyberspace have done. However, the unveiling of  Virginia Martanez all cost her a paycheck. She was fired by her employer, the Negro Education Emergency Drive. I sense because the people she often criticized in her blog were likely some of  the same people donating to the non-profit.

It was her life as “PittGirl” that turned her writings and opinions from just another blogger who writes well into the city’s first cyber-celebrity. A recent article on CNN.com illustrated the perils and powers of life as an anonymous blogger.

There is no doubt you have a sense of bravado that would not exist if your name was printed. Let’s face it, as much as I would like to, there are certain subjects on which I cannot take sides. Heck, there are certain things I cannot mention because of who I am and what I do. However, being anonymous as a blogger would allow me to talk about such things.

At the same time, I personally find it cowardly when anyone hops on one of those message boards, adopts a on-line tag name and then rips you to shreds. It would seem to be no different here, except these bloggers are writing full commentaries instead of one line saying “you stink”.

At the same time, anonymity can be a necessary shield. Imagine ( if you can ) the world without “Deep Throat”: the insider who outed President Nixon. He wasn’t a blogger but at the time he fulfilled that role … telling reporters about the “high crimes and misdemeanors” which took place in the Nixon White House. Today, some bloggers provide insight that cast  a spotlight on improprieties in government as well as wrong-doing or just bad decision-making by our elected leaders.

I think in the final analysis, many bloggers are just people who have something to say. They maybe writers who want to share their works with the world. They maybe people looking to make serious change. For all we know, they maybe 13-year-old kids testing the power of the internet.

The one thing to remember is that blogging is more often that not opinion – and that includes my blog. It’s written from the point of view of the author, anonymous or not, and that everything that is written needs to be seen through that lens.

As for Montanez, she has proven to be a savvy writer and it’s not only her message, but her style that got people’s attention. It certainly got mine as a occasional reader of her blog.

What’s next for her?: She says in her comments following her firing: “I just want to write and get paid for it”.

I’m sure she will.

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