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 panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • The only other person that knew me on here was a co-worker that followed VSB. She has since moved on.
    Another funny thing is…coworkers constantly ask me how I find out certain things before they become too mainstream and go countrywide.
    I have since stopped using work pcs to design art and surf the V, the S and the B.
    (Sidenote: Having an office door to close helps.)

  • Valerie

    As a system admin, I see what you are doing and I can see what you are downloading on your work computers. The only time I mention it is if you are doing something that stresses out the servers (torrents), I’ll just block your access for a while. Technically you not supposed to listen to music (something a little as that) at work at certain companies, anything considered not work related can get you in trouble. If you must use the systems at work then do it when you are OFF THE CLOCK. I cannot stress this enough.

    Keep your job and social media separate. No one needs to know where you work. NEVER RANT about your company, coworkers, or say anything that can be considered offensive to groups. I don’t care how stressful your day is, you better step away from the social media. Companies are ALWAYS looking, someone is ALWAYS watching. Being stupid on social media is the quickest way to lose your job these days.

    • A – men

      • Valerie

        It’s real out here.

    • miss t-lee

      ” Technically you not supposed to listen to music (something a little as that) at work at certain companies, anything considered not work related can get you in trouble.”

      I got fired for this once.

      • Jennifer

        Wow. They really do it?!

        • miss t-lee

          I was temping at a small law firm, and I was told not to listen to music because it was eating up bandwith…lol
          I hated that job so the firing was a blessing in disguise, but yes I got fired for that.

      • Valerie

        It’s really getting bad now. Companies are finding ways to fire people.

        • miss t-lee

          Yeah, this was about 8 years ago. So I can imagine.

      • Cheech

        Damn.

        • miss t-lee

          Those were interesting times, Cheech…lol

    • Regina

      I’m IT at our small clinic and I watch my back constantly. When we got wifi all the ladies where cheering and I was thinking, you fools!

      • miss t-lee

        Folks be having their phones hooked up to the wifi here…oh no ma’am.

      • Valerie

        I agree Regina. I may be overly cautious to my coworkers but I always make sure I am covered. If I am coding, I make sure I am off the clock. I rather go to a local Starbucks and code there than at work.

    • Giantstepp

      Yeah, the new game is –when having problems at work–they check your history now. It gives them ammunition to fire your a$$ a lot easily. Former coworker recently was having “problems” with the manager, and sho nuff they went thru her history and used it against her.

      • Valerie

        Exactly. Companies aren’t playing anymore. They will use anything as leverage.

      • NonyaB?

        Not a new game; retroactively checking your browsing history for ammunition is as old as when internet came to offices. Hence why it’s useful to befriend IT staff anywhere you work. Plus, they could possibly help you can find out which work foe has questionable browsing habits, for your ammunition purposes. ;)

        • Robynrjoseph


          my buddy’s mother gets $85 per hour from home, she’s been out of a job for eleven months and the previous month her income was $15918 just working on the internet five hours a day.. ?check? out
          ???http://www.GoogleFinancialCashJobs380TopNext/Home/Wage….
          ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::sy20

    • Erin

      How do you all feel about people applying for jobs at work? I’ve done this at most of my jobs, whether they be freelance or otherwise, but I don’t think anyone really cares or if they do, they haven’t snitched because they most likely understand why.

      • Valerie

        Honestly I don’t think most people care. I know a few people trying to leave now. I’m paranoid so I wouldn’t do it on a work computer.

    • CParis

      Preach. And have your go bag ready. I’ve seen companies lay off folks and give them 30 minutes to depart the premises. Not a good situation if you’ve got all your side gig files on your company-owned PC or phone.

      • Valerie

        Yup. I believe in external hard drives. I love your avi btw

    • Also be careful because some companies, like the large one I work at has a clause in the on boarding paper work that says they have partial ownership to anything you create on using company equipment etc.

      Unless you start the next Facebook you should be fine. But some places are petty…

      • I_AmU

        Intellectual Property is a minefield. It’s difficult and easy to prove at the same time. Most companies don’t pursue it unless the potential profit of owning what you’ve created/developed using their assets is significantly more the cost to litigate. More than likely they’ll just fire you.

      • Valerie

        Exactly which is why I say if possible, use your own devices and go to Starbucks or your local coffee shop if you need a wi-fi connection. The bonus is at least you will have coffee or tea as you work.

    • MsSula

      I actually left a very lucrative position as IT Superintendent at some point because of these things. They requested a weekly tally of internet sites used by employees, which made me cringe (but well, it was their right). What broke the camel’s back was one of the managers putting a new mother on disciplinary hold because she was checking out a baby website.

      It was a friggin’ mining site in the middle of nowhere and she had just come back to work after maternity leave and was probably worried as all the fcuks about her baby staying far from her.
      Long story short, I left shortly thereafter. Irreconcilable differences.

      The company I am at now has the Internet as one of its central tenets, so you will not be censored for using it… wisely of course.

      • Valerie

        I understand your struggle. It comes to the point of how do we define privacy. I will be leaving my role soon. It is becoming stressful.

    • What if I have my own personal VPN?

      • Valerie

        I use Hillary Clinton as an example for people. If she got in trouble for having her own server, you (who title is not as high as hers) can get in trouble for less. It is not worth it. It’s best to do all personal things off the clock, on your own devices and if possible not on the company’s network.

    • Your Mama

      ok im not the most IT savvy, so I have a question.. when you use those incognito or private browsing windows does that do anything? Asking b/c I have the type of job where I can need to be on work laptop all day, but I open private windows, like this one to read VSB and other sites. Can they see me?? *bites nails*
      ps: i work in DC for a small gobment agency too, Panama! I feels you.

      • Valerie

        Sorry for the late response. Don’t use your work laptop, it’s just not worth it. Private browsing only stops your browser from receiving data such as search history or cookies. It does not stop a network admin from seeing your connection to our wi-fi because it’s all server based.

        Always use your personal laptop. Some companies have software such as CompuTrace that can monitor your location. Some companies have software that can monitor your keystrokes or look at your screen remotely. The average user does not know about all the software we (the IT department) install for you and we like it that way.

        Here’s an article on Private Browsing:
        https://www.howtogeek.com/117776/htg-explains-how-private-browsing-works-and-why-it-doesnt-offer-complete-privacy/

        • Your Mama

          geez, and here i was thinking i was on the low. Good to know!! thank you!

          • Valerie

            You’re welcome lol

  • Cleojonz

    Congratulations Panama! I was wondering how long you would be able to keep doing both. I’m glad you were able to leave on your own terms when you were good and gotd*mned ready!

  • miss t-lee

    I’m still laughing at your co-worker running his whole azz side business at the office.
    Huevos–he has them.

  • Dr McD

    I have a separate work and personal FB. I’ve blocked one account from the other. So, folks feel included, and I can live my life an angry black woman peace on my real page.

    • BM, Superman

      Yep. I keep my Twitter for me and few work folks know about it for this reason.

    • That’s a great idea!

  • Bro, you didn’t tell ONE lie! And you know these days folks will try to come for you too….

  • KeciB

    These are on point. If you are going to perform your side hustle at your day job it’s definitely key to keep it under wraps and always do you day job well, don’t give your employers a single reason to look into you. I’ve done so much sneaky cr@p at various jobs and never got caught.

  • Congressional Budget Office?

    • jtreynol

      …c’mon son…

  • I’m in the Don’t Quit Social Media. Put it to work for Your Career Instead camp.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/03/jobs/dont-quit-social-media-put-it-to-work-for-your-career-instead.html

    It has been really great for me. The more of my career I expose, the more opportunities that seem to manifest. I am surprised at how many people aren’t using the internet more to further their career goals.

    • MsSula

      That’s why my Linkedin is carefully curated. The email used for LinkedIn is only provided to selected folks and folks I interact with in the professional world. I have had an internet email for so long that the 2 worlds do not even feel like they belong together.

  • Nichole Renee

    Great post!

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