When I first thought about creating my blog, I had to make a very important decision: use my real name, or hide my identity?
Some medical bloggers, such as Flea or Dr. Dork, prefer to stay secretive. Their nom de plumes write passionate about controversial issues, or reveal much about the men behind the facade. Others, such as Dr. Bryan Vartabedian at Parenting Solved, proudly post as their professional personae (yes, much like Dork, I like alliteration), preferring to speak with a calm, informative voice to the layperson. And some, such as Dr. Mary Johnson at Dr. J's HouseCalls, disregard these rules entirely, with blogs so personal and pointed they simply wouldn't work anonymously.
I knew my blog potentially would fall across all of these categories. My Katrina Story, for instance, can't be told without very personal and revealing details. Besides, a well-written blog can be an marketable asset for a practice, a source of information for patients. On the other hand, those same patients might be turned off by a particularly provocative tirade, or details of my personal life. I thought for a long time about what path to take.
I finally decided to go to the middle. So even though you all know me as "Dr. Scott," I've left enough clues on "Just Practicing" and in my posts that it would not be very hard to find out my Secret Identity. A couple of well-targeted Google searches should do it rather easily.
Now you might ask, why not just come out with it? Why make the general public work for it?
First, I do make reference in my posts to my wife and children, and the Internet can sometimes be an abusive place; I don't want to bring them any unwanted advances.
Second, and more importantly, is that I am a pediatrician.
It's part of my job to foster the wholesome development of children. And what better way to encourage healthy behaviors than model them? So, at least in the public sphere, I have to be careful of my image, whether online, or in the local Walmart.
When Pee-Wee Herman was caught, shall we say, partaking of some adult entertainment, the uproar was not because he was famous. He was the famous host of a children's television show. In theory, what the actor known as Paul Reubens did on his own time shouldn't have mattered. He didn't go to an X-rated movie dressed in his character's red bow tie and too-short pants. Pee-Wee Herman never hinted at such subject matter on his Saturday morning show (not even in a subtle, above-the-kids-heads kind of joke). Nevertheless, adults were now uncomfortable having him entertain their children, and so he disappeared for years.
In an even more dramatic example, the fledgling PBS Sprout network fired its eveningtime host last year. Sprout is a cable/satellite network with programming exclusively for the toddler and preschool crowd: Bob the Builder, Teletubbies, Barney, Dragon Tales, the whiny brat Caillou, and the like. Word leaked out that Melanie Martinez, of their "Good Night Show" segments, had acted in two commercial parodies six years before. The films, called "Technical Virgin," poked fun at abstinence-only messages for teens. No pornography, nothing illegal or even risque, just raunchy humor. Not only were the "Technical Virgin" clips far outside of wide release, but it's safe to say that the young viewers of PBS Sprout were unlikely to encounter this aspect of Miss Melanie, even accidentally in the wider world--unless the major media started making it a big deal, or these toddlers knew how to use YouTube. All the same, this unsavory past was enough to kick her off the show. (As a side note, PBS doesn't seem to mind that George Carlin narrates some of the Thomas the Tank Engine episodes. Perhaps they have a different standard for voice actors? Or just famous ones?)
I don't think I lead a particularly immoral life, but I do want the freedom to post about some of my interests, and receive comments back.
I like the occasional premium ethanol-based spirit. For the holidays my wife gave me a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin. The word intoxicating was invented for this drink, in every aspect. I've also been working this past year on a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon, a truly sublime Kentucky whiskey. All the same, I don't advocate alcoholic beverages for children.
My wife will be glad to tell you that one of my other vices is video games. Another holiday gift, which I recently finished, was F.E.A.R. This is a first-person shooter that features telepathically controlled paramilitary clone soldiers. I couldn't make that up if I tried. It's bloody, excessively violent, and great fun. It's also rated "M" for a reason. I only play it when my children are fast asleep.
We're not talking about child pornography or something equally reprehensible. Nevertheless, I don't think the parents of my patients need to know these things about me. I don't think they really want to know. Why spoil the illusion of wholesomeness?
And so, if you meet me at a party, just don't tell my patients. And if you do, I'll just deny it all. It's all for the kids.