About That Avatar...

by Ruby Vee 11,260 Views | 55 Comments

It seems to come in waves: new members joining AN and using their own names as user names and their photos as avatars. Although no one truly believes that the internet is anonymous anymore, there are some very good reasons not to be totally obvious, either. AN is a very good place to come to ask questions -- especially questions you don't want to run by the crusty old bats on your unit, or to vent about your professors or bosses, or fellow students or colleagues, your patients or your family. Being instantly recognizable is not a good thing.

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    About That Avatar...

    It seems that every year, there's a new bunch of AN members who use their own photo as an avatar. It's a dangerous practice. The internet isn't really as anonymous as we all like to think it is, but if you're using your own picture as an avatar, you might as well use your own name as well. (And no, Ruby Vee is not my real, live legal name.)

    AN is a great place to come to have questions answered -- especially stupid questions that you don't want to run by the crusty old bats who work on your unit. It's a great place to come to vent ABOUT those crusty old bats, those clueless newbies or the manager from Hades. If I come here to vent about that witch of a patient's family member who drank from the sterile saline bottle, lied about it, and then blamed the nursing staff for the horrible infection her husband got and it turns out that she reads this board because she wants to be a nurse some day, I'd be mighty glad my picture isn't up there for everyone to see. If I mention that I've seen a patient with a really rare disease, and claim it was years ago in another state and the patient was the opposite gender -- all of my colleagues would know I was REALLY talking about that patient we have on the unit right now. And if I, inadvertently or otherwise, said something controversial, objectionable or just plain disagreeable, that post would be printed out and shoved under the door of the boss's office one night. At least I'd have plausible deniability since I'm *NOT* using my own name or my own face.

    I know a lot of people think they'll NEVER say anything that someone else finds ignorant, abrasive, untrue or otherwise objectionable, and therefore they're safe using their picture as an avatar. I'm here to tell you, though, that you never know what someone else may find offensive. You never know what's going to rile someone up to the point of cyber-stalking, sharing your posts with your boss (or even the one about how your husband never forgets to walk the dog when he's the first person coming home after work, and never REMEMBERS to walk the dog when you're going to be the one to walk into the house first and find the mess . . . hate to find that one printed out on our kitchen table!). You just never know. And you cannot always stop yourself -- at least I can't -- when someone posts something incredibly ignorant -- from telling them how ignorant it is.

    A colleague of mine posted on allnurses about what bullies and witches all of the preceptors in our unit are, how everyone she worked with was persecuting her and how she was only going to be on the job for the minimum time possible to get into CRNA school anyway. The avatar she used wasn't her picture, but was an avatar she used for other forums and some of her "friends" at work put two and two together . . . she found herself having a chat with our manager about her extreme unhappiness with her job. I'm told it didn't go well for her. An orientee we were having trouble with posted a whole lot of impassioned venting about her horrible preceptors, her terrible boss and how sick she was of her job. She stayed signed in to AN on the nurse's station computer when she went home in the morning. The Assistant Nurse Manager was not amused when she hopped on the computer and found the vent thread . . . nor was the DON amused when she was given the print-out. Had the orientee not used her own name and a photo of her dog/car/bicycle/boyfriend/whatever that she was very proud of an had shown to all and sundry, we would not have been able to prove who posted the vitriol.

    Another colleague made a long, impassioned post about how nurses eat their young, and she knows that because she's been eaten. That post was nearly ten years ago, and she looks back on it now and cringes at how ignorant she was then. Unfortunately, at some point in the interim, she either used her picture as an avatar or posted too much information because now some of her co-workers know who she is on allnurses, and were teasing her about that post the other day. On the other hand, her orientees can never claim she's forgotten what it was like to be a brand new nurse. The evidence is out there!

    Be safe, guys. Take a nice picture of a creative bumper sticker or T shirt, a flower, a mountain or your old cat (not the one all of your colleagues know because it's on your locker) and use that as an avatar instead!
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 22
    ChickNlady, brandy1017, sallyrnrrt, and 44 others like this.
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  3. About Ruby Vee

    Ruby Vee joined Jun '02 - from 'the Midwest'. Ruby Vee has '38' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'ICU/CCU'. Posts: 8,505 Likes: 30,662; Learn more about Ruby Vee by visiting their allnursesPage


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    55 Comments so far...

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    I'm humbled to admit that I, while hardly na´ve to the dangers of the internet, was once guilty of this myself.

    As an officer and a soldier, I am well aware of the importance of privacy and information awareness, especially on the internet. Mandated training drills into my head that what you say, post or do on the internet is out there forever--so you'd better be careful. Watch what you say and who you associate with, because Charlie is everywhere, and you'd hate to give him information that could potentially benefit the enemy.

    With this in mind, I left Facebook, swore off Twitter and Instagram (and whatever the next generation of these social networking monsters will be), and have exclusively used AN as anonymously as possible for all of my social networking needs. I've changed details of my history--some big, some small--to intentionally throw would-be identity detectives off my trail.

    Ruby Vee very kindly reminded me of these dangers one day when I thoughtlessly put up an avatar that, though small, made me identifiable.

    Thank you for yet another great reminder, Ruby. While we'd like to think that AN is safe, the truth is, anyone--member or not--can read what's posted here. Make sure it's something you're OK with the world seeing, because the world can see it!
    Last edit by SoldierNurse22 on Jan 21
    sallyrnrrt, SeattleJess, Nross2, and 12 others like this.
  5. 2
    Quote from SoldierNurse22
    Make sure it's something you're OK with the world seeing, because the world can see it!
    At this point of my life and here on AN...I'm OK with the world seeing it, as long as it meets TOS.

    sallyrnrrt and aTOMicTom like this.
  6. 1
    Since I have mentioned in previous posts that I live in northern Maine and that I am in an ASN program I would not be hard to track down, especially coupled with my avatar and screen name (which perfectly matches my personality). While I have pointed out minor specifics about our program (uniform requirements, tattoos, grading guidlines, etc) I would never mention anything about patients, fellow students, or instructors. I wish I could though, I have some FUNNY first-semster stories!!
    aTOMicTom likes this.
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    Ruby I feel like you are beating a dead horse. You have great intent, but people are going to do what they want to do. You can't fix stupid. Don't waste your time with creating these threads. There is always going to be someone who is going to think it is an awesome idea to have their real pic as an avatar while ranting about work.
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    It also makes me wonder too. Now, employers look at everything and anything they have capability to find about employees. It would be a shame to miss out on an opportunity because of something that was a vent. Alas, some will not learn until its too late. Good advice Ruby!
    sallyrnrrt and loriangel14 like this.
  9. 3
    Thanks for the tip, I hadn't thought about my avatar, it used to be the one I use for other social media.
    krisiepoo, SoldierNurse22, and Ruby Vee like this.
  10. 25
    Quote from prnqday
    Ruby I feel like you are beating a dead horse. You have great intent, but people are going to do what they want to do. You can't fix stupid. Don't waste your time with creating these threads. There is always going to be someone who is going to think it is an awesome idea to have their real pic as an avatar while ranting about work.
    It seems like there are bunches more newbies on the forum using their names and photos as usernames and avatars. I've run across several who have joined in the past couple of months. I've already been informed, quite rudely, by one poster that she would NEVER post anything objectionable, questionable or controversial because she knows better and that I was incredibly rude to suggest that she might. So you're right. You can't fix stupid. You can, however, educate the ignorant and inform the uninformed. So maybe I'll help one or two of these folks avoid being outed at work. I can hope so, anyway!
    brandy1017, sallyrnrrt, edmia, and 22 others like this.
  11. 15
    Quote from prnqday
    Ruby I feel like you are beating a dead horse. You have great intent, but people are going to do what they want to do. You can't fix stupid. Don't waste your time with creating these threads. There is always going to be someone who is going to think it is an awesome idea to have their real pic as an avatar while ranting about work.
    for every "dead horse" YOU see, someone like ME (several months ago now) changed my avatar because she chose to post this. I thank her for that because I never thought about it. Remember, one at a time, right?
  12. 3
    Quote from Ruby Vee
    It seems that every year, there's a new bunch of AN members who use their own photo as an avatar. It's a dangerous practice. The internet isn't really as anonymous as we all like to think it is, but if you're using your own picture as an avatar, you might as well use your own name as well. (And no, Ruby Vee is not my real, live legal name.)

    AN is a great place to come to have questions answered -- especially stupid questions that you don't want to run by the crusty old bats who work on your unit. It's a great place to come to vent ABOUT those crusty old bats, those clueless newbies or the manager from Hades. If I come here to vent about that witch of a patient's family member who drank from the sterile saline bottle, lied about it, and then blamed the nursing staff for the horrible infection her husband got and it turns out that she reads this board because she wants to be a nurse some day, I'd be mighty glad my picture isn't up there for everyone to see. If I mention that I've seen a patient with a really rare disease, and claim it was years ago in another state and the patient was the opposite gender -- all of my colleagues would know I was REALLY talking about that patient we have on the unit right now. And if I, inadvertently or otherwise, said something controversial, objectionable or just plain disagreeable, that post would be printed out and shoved under the door of the boss's office one night. At least I'd have plausible deniability since I'm *NOT* using my own name or my own face.

    I know a lot of people think they'll NEVER say anything that someone else finds ignorant, abrasive, untrue or otherwise objectionable, and therefore they're safe using their picture as an avatar. I'm here to tell you, though, that you never know what someone else may find offensive. You never know what's going to rile someone up to the point of cyber-stalking, sharing your posts with your boss (or even the one about how your husband never forgets to walk the dog when he's the first person coming home after work, and never REMEMBERS to walk the dog when you're going to be the one to walk into the house first and find the mess . . . hate to find that one printed out on our kitchen table!). You just never know. And you cannot always stop yourself -- at least I can't -- when someone posts something incredibly ignorant -- from telling them how ignorant it is.

    A colleague of mine posted on allnurses about what bullies and witches all of the preceptors in our unit are, how everyone she worked with was persecuting her and how she was only going to be on the job for the minimum time possible to get into CRNA school anyway. The avatar she used wasn't her picture, but was an avatar she used for other forums and some of her "friends" at work put two and two together . . . she found herself having a chat with our manager about her extreme unhappiness with her job. I'm told it didn't go well for her. An orientee we were having trouble with posted a whole lot of impassioned venting about her horrible preceptors, her terrible boss and how sick she was of her job. She stayed signed in to AN on the nurse's station computer when she went home in the morning. The Assistant Nurse Manager was not amused when she hopped on the computer and found the vent thread . . . nor was the DON amused when she was given the print-out. Had the orientee not used her own name and a photo of her dog/car/bicycle/boyfriend/whatever that she was very proud of an had shown to all and sundry, we would not have been able to prove who posted the vitriol.

    Another colleague made a long, impassioned post about how nurses eat their young, and she knows that because she's been eaten. That post was nearly ten years ago, and she looks back on it now and cringes at how ignorant she was then. Unfortunately, at some point in the interim, she either used her picture as an avatar or posted too much information because now some of her co-workers know who she is on allnurses, and were teasing her about that post the other day. On the other hand, her orientees can never claim she's forgotten what it was like to be a brand new nurse. The evidence is out there!

    Be safe, guys. Take a nice picture of a creative bumper sticker or T shirt, a flower, a mountain or your old cat (not the one all of your colleagues know because it's on your locker) and use that as an avatar instead!
    Good point, but I am quite curious about something: you had two people post on allnurses about how miserable they were in your unit...maybe you guys should figure out what's going on? Could there be some miscommunication or something that's upsetting orientees?
    kungpoopanda, Bortaz, RN, and aTOMicTom like this.


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