Should I use names or not?

That’s not a question for you. I’ve already answered it. Feel free to come up with your own answer as you read this though.

The question is about mentioning names on this blog, particularly mentioning names of people who know me. It’s easy enough to mention names of those who don’t know me or don’t care what I say. Take the Pope for example. He doesn’t care (much) what I say on this blog.

But what about the people I talk to every day? Should I use their names?

Side #1: Don’t even think about it. Many people don’t want to have their life put on the Internet for the world to see (never mind that few people will ever actually read this).

Side #2: Of course I should use names. A person’s name is to that person, according to Dale Carnegie, the most beautiful word in any language. People love to hear their own name spoken or see their own name written.

Side #3: But sometimes I’m surely going to write things that a) are personal, b) make that person look bad, and/or c) the person just doesn’t want others to know about (surprise birthday plans maybe). Perhaps it would be best to leave out names in some instances.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, I side with Side #3. But now things get gray. Do I make up names of people who don’t want their identity online? Do I ask the person before posting?

Here’s what I’ve come up with. I won’t use fake names – that’s ridiculous and annoying. But if I think the story conforms to (a), (b), or (c), I’ll not use names at all. If someone reads a story on this blog and asks me to remove it, I’ll… seriously consider it. I make no guarantees. But if something I’ve written offends you because I’ve included your name (or someone else’s name for that matter), please let me know.

Overall, my policy for using names is, ask for forgiveness, not for permission. Thoughts on this?

You should see names everywhere. I’ve tried to use names more often. I want to cultivate my sneezing skills (thanks, Seth).

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