How to be Internet “Famous” and Day Job Anonymous at the Same Damn Time » VSB

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How to be Internet “Famous” and Day Job Anonymous at the Same Damn Time

(courtesy of Patrick Lux/Stringer)

I don’t want to bury the lede, so here’s the punchline: On Friday, I left my day job after 14 years to work for VSB full time; nobody at my day job had any idea about VSB. Full stop.

For my entire tenure as a government employee, working that good government job, I flew under the radar. By day, I crunched many numbers (if I told you where I worked, you’d probably not believe me…my day job is having a YEAR), by more day, I wrote blog posts, and for many years, by night, I turned all the way up. I was living a semi-charmed, assumedly highly anonymous life online. I thought that all might come to a screeching halt when during November 2016, the Washington Post did a feature on VSB and we were on the front page of the “Style” section, with a big ass picture of Damon and I. Needless to say, I went to work THAT day preparing for somebody to walk into my office and say, “(real name) IS THIS YOU?!!!?! YOU’RE FIRED.”

It never happened. On occasion somebody would pass me in the hallway and maybe smile more than normal, but I can’t prove that’s because of the article so I’ve chosen to assume that nobody at my job figured out my Clark Kent/Superman double life. This means that I can teach a class on staying anonymous in the face of “fame.” I left that job Friday, now I don’t have to worry about it anymore. And that feels good. Real talk, I was always worried that somebody I’d pissed off in the world would decide to tip my job off about my other activities. I have no idea if it would have mattered, but who wants to find out the hard way; times are tough out here.

Now, I assume that some of you are on a similar track: you are out here doing that hot shit online, but don’t necessarily want your coworkers up in your kool-aid trying to tell you that red is really fruit punch. IT’S RED. Stop being bute, my G. They trying to bonnect and you’re just trying to live your best life. So here are some skeps and skrategies to keep collecting them checks from the man while paving your way online so hopefully you can work, one day, from your bouch.

1. Have a dope pseudonym (or just be prepared to be found out in a Google society)

Pseudonyms are a gift and a curse. They’re a gift because they give you some anonymity. They’re a curse because them bitches can stick. Most people don’t remember my real name, and because Panama Jackson sounds like a real name. It’s taken on a life of its own. Which is cool, but you know, my family likes our name too and would like to see that on TV and in bylines. Just be prepared for that name to go global. Also, trying to decide how to introduce yourself to people can be awkward. I imagine it’s how rappers always feel.

2. Keep work and play separated

I may have used my job as my office space for writing for the entire life of my blogging career but I never once ever mentioned my love for writing or desire to do other things to nan-coworker that I wouldn’t hang out with outside of work. I did however make mention of working in night clubs and doing music production work. But none of that is really googleable without a pseudonym or some idea where I was working or who I was working with. I kept the stuff that they couldn’t find off their immediate radar. Now, I have seen coworkers out who absolutely looked me dead in my face and kept it moving. I think the sight of me in bandanas and Huey Newton tshirts scared them off.

3. Don’t EVER EVER EVER EVER accept coworkers friend requests.

I have a friend request from a coworker that’s been unaddressed for at least three years. It’s still there. As soon as I accept that request, I feel like it would unlock the key to the honeycomb hideout. Once you start to make some waves, you’re waves are going to end up on your timelines. That’s that shit you won’t like. Then everybody will be up in your business. Keep ’em out of your business, and especially off your Facebook timeline.

This one helps but I realize isn’t as controllable…

4. Work at a place where the populace isn’t at all interested in what you’re doing

I worked at a place where even if they did find out I’m sure 90 percent of them wouldn’t have given two fucks about what I was doing or writing about. I worked with some solidly middle-aged white social scientists of the number, graph, and area-under-the-curve persuasion. This means that they weren’t typically scouring blogs for VSB type of content. Had I been working at a place where our type of content was at a premium, my fate might not have been the same.

5. Work from home more than you work at work

MY IT department? They clearly weren’t interested in logging time you spent on non-work related sites. I’d sit on VSB all day long and nobody ever said one single thing. Which is amazing because my agency was small. It wasn’t thousands of people that had to be monitored; it was more like just a few hundred. At one point though, VSB was flagged and there was a solid year where I couldn’t login from work. Point is, don’t put yourself on the work radar at all because all it takes is one person to start digging into that site you spend all day on. Also, that shit is PROBABLY a fireable offense. How do I know this? At my job one dude DID get shitcanned for literally building and running an entire business from his desk. How’d he get caught and I didn’t? My guess? That nigga was TRASH at his day job. I was not.

Follow these rules you’ll have made bread to break up, if not….then I guess you’ll just keep on keepin’ on.

Anything else, is uncivilized.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at

  • Guess I should have come up with a cool pseudonym. You can’t beat Panama Jackson though.

    • Val

      Nice avi! :-)

    • ? cynmac will never surrender

      “Ale Sharpton” is a good one too.

      • Ooooooh, that’s good! Where were you when I was setting up my Disqus account?!

        • ? cynmac will never surrender

          Yeah, “Ale” has a blog, sponsors beer tastings and is a all around fantastic.

        • ? cynmac’s reclaiming her time

          You can change it. Just go to, login your account, go to profile and Voila. You can change your avatar there too. On, we do it all the time. Don’t be surprised if I show up as “cynmac’s reclaiming her time”.

          • Haha! I am just not good at making up names for myself. I tried already when I was younger and looking for my “actress name.” I kid you not, I tried to mix my father’s last name and some other stuff and ended up with Peyton Manning.

  • BJenks

    Panama Jackson is a player a** name tho..

  • BJenks

    I relate to all of this, except the being internet famous part… working on that now though.

  • Val

    I’ve done my best to keep my internet life separate from real life. So far so good. (fingers crossed) The anonymity of the internet allows me to say things and discuss things I wouldn’t in real life for many reasons. Sometimes I wonder how I survived before the internets.

    Don’t let your worlds collide!

  • notaquarterback

    I work in IT for an org and we really don’t monitor specific site traffic unless there’s a specific reason to do so. That said, I appreciated this whole post because I sort of do this professionally (though without a nom de guerre) and always sort of wondered how other people navigated it. In my case, the fame isn’t WaPo levels, it’s very specific to our industry and my way around it is…I live in a small place where nobody cares about anything outside of the place, so doing “national/global” stuff doesn’t resonate.

  • miss t-lee

    Congrats on making the leap!

    I like that when I google my name a white lady comes up.

    • Jennifer

      I bet you’re really the white lady just trying to keep us off your trail. Well-played, white lady.

    • grownandsexy2


    • In divorce talks currently. People have asked if I’m going back to my maiden name.

      NOPE! My married name is not “googleable” unless you’ve got something else to search with it. Maiden name? My whole life story.

      • miss t-lee

        Understandable. ?

  • MsCee

    “On Friday, I left my day job after 14 years to work for VSB full time; nobody at my day job had any idea about VSB.” My two weeks notice would have read: I know you guys dont know this…BUT I’m kind of a BIG DEAL in these innanet skreets #Oprahcalledme #PanamayneOUT.

    • Michelle is my First Lady

      We still ain’t hear that VM.

      • MsCee

      • panamajackson

        I spoke at a college in DC last week and I played it for them. If you ever see me in the streets…ill play it for you.

        • Jennifer

          *jumps in her time machine and sets it to HH at Marvin last week*

        • LMNOP

          Do you have it backed up somewhere?

  • Michelle is my First Lady

    I’m excited for you and Champ and your new beginnings!
    BTW, last week I saw a cashier in the Dollar Tree with the name…..DONTAVIOUS! I wanted to flip my lid. I ain’t know people were really out in these RL streets naming their child Dontavious.

    • panamajackson

      They stoleded that from me.

  • Kat

    Here are mine:

    1. I don’t Facebook search for my coworkers, FB might think I want to be connected with them. I don’t.
    1.a I almost deleted one coworker that I added years ago at another job because she tagged me in a complaint about the job. Almost. Quick inbox…and lesson learned.

    2. Don’t add your company name to your profile, don’t even mention it in comments or in FB messages to other folks. Heck most folks think my FB page is my day job. I wish.

    3. I don’t post a lot of pics of myself. Meet me outside…

    4. I use my initials in my 9 to 5 and not my government name. It surprisingly works very well. Folks start thinking of you as your initials and rarely think to ask what you real name is.

    • Michelle is my First Lady

      “1.a I almost deleted one coworker that I added years ago at another job because she tagged me in a complaint about the job. Almost. Quick inbox…and lesson learned.”

      Yeah. We would have had serious problems. Chick, don’t pull me into your misery.

      I had a manager send me a friend request on Facebook. I’m talking someone in a senior leadership position. I don’t have the time for that. I deleted her request quickly. I’m pretty sure she stopped talking to me because I never accepted her request.

      • My mgr tried to add me.
        Its STILL sitting there.

        • Cleojonz

          My boss did the same. I genuinely like him and have spent time out side of the office with him, but that’s a firm no. That request has been sitting there for 3 years.

          • Mine would ask, “duuuude, did you get it yet?”
            Me: lemme check.
            He has since relocated to Colorado. Lol

        • grownandsexy2

          Most of my “friend” requests have been sitting for at least 3 years. I had one boss try to add me after she was the reason settlement on my house was delayed. Everyone sitting at the table at settlement and she didn’t want to give up info until she was threatened with a lawsuit. I got in touch with her through e-mail and told her I hope she dies a slow, painful, tortuous death and meant every word. Still.

        • Bliss76

          I blocked my manager the day she asked if I had a FB. Won’t find my name anyway.

      • MsCee

        “I’m pretty sure she stopped talking to me because I never accepted her request.” My old manager got hella salty when I declined her friend request and invites to hang out outside of work. It was a crazy situation to be in because then she started fckn up my reviews and ish.

      • LMNOP

        At my job we are required to have our boss as a FB friend. I basically have just stopped using Facebook.

        In hindsight, I should have changed my name, or done the two profiles thing. Oh well.

        • grownandsexy2

          Why is that a requirement?

          • LMNOP

            No idea, I guess they are just nosy.

        • Tlholohelo Makatu

          That’s just too close for comfort. I got my manager’s cell number from a colleague but I don’t touch that unless I can’t get her on her desk phone and she’s AWOL. But otherwise, I steer clear unless she says I can. But I try to keep a major distance between my personal life and burgeoning professional life.
          No doubt some of the things I say online can get me fired. There must be some distance.

      • ? cynmac will never surrender

        That is what Linked In is for, fool. Yeah.

        • Michelle is my First Lady

          I got rid of LinkedIn. I’m good on that.

    • MsSula

      Not one coworker on FB, Twitter or Instagram. That’s what LinkedIn is for… and even then.

      • Kat

        I don’t add them on LinkedIn til after I

  • Glo

    I thought Panama Jackson was your government name this whole time. O_o

    And if I were to become even a little internet famous, all of my coworkers and friends would know, lol. Some of them have even recognized me from the comments section here! Part of it is because I love my actual name and think it’s super catchy. All of my social media is just variations of my real name.

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