You're a smart, tech-savvy associate with a pocket full of dreams and a Twitter account, and heck, you might even #changethelegalworld one day kiddo!
But while the U.S.S. Good Times is moving full steam ahead, the last thing you need as a budding, potential-filled lawyer is to end up like 'Carlos Danger' (aka NYC mayoral sorta-hopeful Anthony Weiner).
A promising legal career can be brought down just as easily as a mayoral campaign. You might think that is a safe way to have a little fun, but if you're still not convinced, here are three reasons not to use a pseudonym online.
1) You Will Be Exposed/Mocked
It is really unlikely that your online moniker will become amazing Internet fodder like this Carlos Danger Name Generator, but when your coworkers and bosses find out your fake Internet name, the joke will definitely be on you.
Here’s a quick rundown, courtesy of The Washington Post, of public figures who have been nailed for their ridiculous and cartoonish pseudonyms:
- Congressman Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) / “Brock Landers”
- NFL QB Michael Vick / “Ron Mexico”
- NYC Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner / “Carlos Danger”
And if you ever want to be as famous as Michael Vick — for being a star in your profession, not for dog fighting — you’ll have a tough row to hoe when you’re the butt of every tweeter’s jokes.
2) Pseudonyms Can Work Against Your Privacy
Although ostensible intent behind a pseudonym like “Lupe Explosion” or “Handsome B. Gorgeous” is to divorce yourself entirely from whatever online persona you’re attempting to create, the fake name will likely create more scrutiny into your personal life and less privacy.
Case in point, the FBI has argued that using a pseudonym abrogates a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy in the goods and services purchased using that pseudonym.
Also, the more attention you draw to your obviously fake pseudonym, the more the bored hordes of the Internet will want to expose you, especially if they feel personally affected (e.g. there are actually at least three real Ron Mexico’s).
3) You Will Be Your Own Twitter Nemesis
Social media platforms can be powerful tools for lawyers to market themselves as the competent and socially conscious persons (who love dogs) that they are, so why create a boorish, caricatured alter-ego with a pseudonym to compete with that image?
Even if you’ve timed your tweets expertly and are really engaging your client base with your professional handle, all of the good work your Twitter Jekyll has done can and will be undone by your pseudonym Hyde once the two are connected.
There are various arenas in which you can offer your private thoughts that won’t affect your business and professional career, but a tweet or a Facebook post is neither private, nor is it a thought.
Save being Carlos Danger for costume parties and romantic role-play, and be a real, professional you online.
- Anthony Weiner, or ‘Carlos Danger,’ kept sending lewd messages (MSNBC)
- Twitter 101 for Lawyers: 3 Key Ways to Make Your Tweets Stand Out (FindLaw’s Technologist)
- #26Acts Lawyers Can Do to Make the World, and Our Profession, Better (FindLaw’s Greedy Associates)
- Insane Sorority Letter Highlights Harsh Reality of Social Media (FindLaw’s Greedy Associates)