There are a lot of pagans out there who are very open and feel comfortable using their legal name in connection to their every move, including grove/coven web pages, Facebook profiles, blogs, etc. If you are one of those people, that is awesome. We need more Pagans to come out of the broom closet and proudly be themselves in every way! Unfortunately, there are many of us, such as myself, who feel unable to do that. At least right now. My online persona is also my (main) magical name. I know some traditions advocate telling nobody your magical name, but this post is not about that subject.
There are more and more social networking sites available every day. People want to connect with me – Pagans and non-Pagans alike. Some of the latter group are peers in college classes, fellow educators, etc. I’m getting to make friends and acquaintances in the North Country who are wonderful people. I’ve not developed deep relationships with all of them, so I don’t know their perceptions of religion. Would I be rejected? Would they be accepting but accidentally tell someone else about my religion? Would that lead to discrimination at work? I’m untenured, but even if I had that bit of security it wouldn’t necessarily save me. It could completely transform my work environment and relationships. If someone wanted to get rid of me, they could nitpick and find other reasons. It’s happened to other people before. There is the chance that people wouldn’t care. Or maybe someone would realize, “Oh wow. She’s actually a really nice, intelligent, productive member of society. Maybe people like that aren’t all so bad…” Maybe people would educate themselves about it, or realize they have an interest in it themselves…
At the moment, I use Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Due to Facebook’s recent changes, I’m using Google+ more and more, but there are still plenty of established groups I want to keep track of on Facebook. I have a few friends on Twitter but they’re all pretty distant or also members of other networks. The nice thing about Twitter is that all my little “micro blog tweets” show up here on The Ditzy Druid. I kind of dig that… I might not want to write a post about something little I did that relates to my practice, but a little tweet on the right side of my blog might be of interest to a reader. Maybe I would expand on it if asked.
I used to have two Facebook accounts – one attached to my legal name and the other my Pagan name. There were times when I felt I had multiple personality disorder. Friends who really know me would see two different versions of me sharing. It felt strange and, in the end, I favored my Pagan account because it was more true to myself. Hell, as much as I like my legal name, I also really like and identify with my Pagan name. It makes me happy when others call me Grey. I wish more people would, sometimes.
When I originally set up my Google+ account, I used my legal name. Then I decided to switch to Grey Catsidhe. Now I’m contemplating going back to my legal name just so I can have a place to befriend anyone without fear of religious discrimination… Then Twitter would become my primary Pagan “social network” leaving FB kind of a … leftover which would remain Pagan but largely ignored except for group updates. Of course, this would create a new online sense of multiple personality “disorder” in my life. It might not be so bad… Google+ makes it easier to share with certain people, so if I want to say “Happy Samhain” there, I just make sure to choose the right audience!
I know I’m not alone in trying to figure out how social networking fits into my life. There are so many options and some people care about staying in touch with friends more than others. I wish I didn’t feel so fearful about job security. Do any of my readers feel that they have multiple personalities online due to family, work, or social concerns? I’d like to know what you think.
(FYI, I understand what multiple personality disorder actually is and how serious it can be. I’m using it more as a metaphor. I don’t actually suffer from it and I don’t intend to diminish the challenges people who have it face every day.)