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.