PittGirl and the Trouble With Being Anonymous
As much as PittGirl's anonymity was the "hook" of her self-created brand, it was her writing style that kept her core fans coming back for more. (After all, a mystery is interesting, but a comedy is eternal.) So it's ironic that her anonymity -- aka the packaging that surrounded her REAL product, her writing -- would be what ends up robbing her fans of the opportunity to enjoy more of what they've come to enjoy.
It's a bit like Reese Cups going off the market because someone told them they had to change their wrappers to green instead of orange; I sincerely doubt the Reese Cup fans would stop eating their favorite candy due to a packaging change any more than PittGirl's readers would have unbookmarked her if they knew her name.
But PittGirl's decision to walk away is less about the foibles of packaging than it is about the cultural problem that led to the packaging conundrum in the first place: the need to be anonymous.
Who... ARE You?
In her case, PittGirl genuinely believed that blogging under her real name might get her fired (or, to speak the parlance, Dooced.) Whether that concern was real or perceived, it was a risk she wasn't willing to take. But why did it have to be a risk in the first place?
Why is society so uptight about what its citizens say?
Why should what YOU, the employee, say or do in public directly affect anyone's perception of your company?
Because everyone is afraid. Of what? Of everyone else? Despite the fact that we no longer have to fight one another for food and shelter, we still live in a constant subconscious fear of what everyone else THINKS of us -- and we all believe that ANY OTHER PERSON could squash our lives just by blinking.
That has to stop.
Who Do You Think You Are, Anyway?
Are we still operating in the perceptual Dark Ages, where we believe that everyone else is as perfect as they claim to be? Does showing a glimpse of humanity, a personal flaw or a whiff of disagreement with the party line automatically brand a person as "dangerous," worthy of being shunned or shown the door?
Why do we give companies the benefit of the doubt, but not the people who WORK in those companies? (And your instincts might lead you to believe that we actually do just the opposite, but if we did, why would people be afraid to post photographs of themselves at a party on their Facebook account for fear that an HR troll would find a reason to fire them as a result?)
Something tells me that PittGirl would have been ENCOURAGED to blog on behalf of her company if all she had to say was glowing and positive. So why does society only want to reward the people who DON'T encourage us to improve upon the status quo? What good is a coal mine without a canary?
And, in the extreme, what is it that any one person could possibly say or do that's SO MUCH WORSE than what any of the rest of us could say or do?
Look around. I guarantee you that everyone sitting near you right now is hiding a secret that they think would make you shun them for life, IF YOU ONLY KNEW.
Guess what, people: if we shunned everyone who had a secret, we'd all be eating alone forever.
So let's each grow some backbone and admit to a very unpleasant truth: that not everyone will like us ALL the time -- including (for various reasons) our employees, friends and families. Get over it. The ones who tell you how wrong you are from time to time are the ones you can trust when they actually tell you you're right.
And as for the anonymous folks out there, whether you're noble or trolls, here's a thought: whatever you have to say is far more resonant when you believe it enough to say it with a straight face -- preferably your own.