I do not use real names on this blog for the men I’m involved with, not even those who have wronged me. (My friends are a different story, but the events concerning them are far less controversial.) Even when someone cheats or lies or manipulates, I avoid outing them and instead use generic first names and leave out identifying information like their job, education, age, or location. Instead, I bite my tongue, am vague about the details of how we became acquainted, swallow the words long before they ever make it to text, and shield these men as much as I shield those I love. However deserving they may be of the scrutiny, they don’t receive it … at least not from my readers, who at 1,000+ a day, could comprise quite the cyber lynch mob. If Gawker’s premise is that everyone is an asshole and should be called out for it, then mine thus far is that even assholes are entitled to their privacy.
But I’m not so sure I believe that any longer.
Lena Chen: do you think it’d be really bitchy for me to post the real name of a guy who tried to hook up with me even though he knew i was friends with his girlfriend? there are a number of people i could Google bomb this way
Scott: you’re in a unique position to dole out justice as you see fit
Lena Chen: yeah, i can play god
Scott: not quite god but as close as a college student can get
Lena Chen: i haven’t really exercised the option
Scott: are you planning to use his full name, or just his first name?
Lena Chen: i COULD use his full name, post a mugshot, do the whole vindictive thing, but i don’t think i will. people are just shitty sometimes. has he learned his lesson? probably not, but i think he’ll get his, and i don’t think i need to help out. although if i ever end my blog, it might be with a list of every douchebag i’ve ever encountered during college, their photos, and details about their jobs/lives.
Scott: that’s kinda harsh
Lena Chen: haha, maybe. they would all deserve it. here’s the thing. i’ve learned that human nature is pretty selfish and lends itself to shitty behavior, but most people are remorseful about it. the people who aren’t deserve to be called out.
Scott: i’m increasingly relieved that you have not deemed me a douchebag
For no reason beyond my greater visibility relative to most people, I have the ability to judge who deserves or doesn’t deserve to be ratted out and thrown to the cyber wolves. But I’m not God, and jokes about an explosive SATI ending aside, I am quite frankly very uncomfortable with the idea of being a vigilante, taking matters into my own hands, and sullying people’s names. So what if a David (and yes, this is a real name) tried to fuck me behind his girlfriend’s back even though she was my friend? Does that mean he should have his full name attached to that incident so that every person who Googles him finds out? Who am I to judge him? And perhaps most importantly, does his lack of remorse make him any more or less deserving?
You see, I don’t know who deserves it or not. Riley was someone who deceived me about having a girlfriend (who was another friend of mine) and yet I would never name him. I don’t think he deserves it, because he’s a good guy who fucked up in a big way and gave himself enough hell about it that he doesn’t need someone to force remorse down his throat. But if he didn’t feel so bad, should I have called him out publicly? Do I have the right to post people’s mistakes before a public audience if I was harmed in the process of their fuck-up and they didn’t say “sorry” in a way I deemed genuine enough?
My most recent freelance assignment is a column about being the “other girl”. It is a 700-word examination of the past year’s experience in attracting taken guys over and over and over and over … again. (Seven at last count). And when it comes to my professional writing, I like to name names. This is problematic, because despite the astonishing number of girlfriends who have already found out, there are plenty who are still clueless about their guys’ indiscretions. Given the context I offer in this piece, it wouldn’t be terribly difficult for a girl to recognize her boyfriend in my column. Does that mean I should withhold real names, or is that not my responsibility?Â Should these guys have known better?Â Or do I owe them the courtesy of keeping their moral lapses behind closed doors?
I don’t know. I really have no idea. For every David, there is a “Riley”, and I’m not sure if God himself could say just whether one deserved any more than the other to err in private.