Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Questioning Online Personas

The online community is full of people hiding behind pseudonyms. We create these fake names to appear anonymous, to perhaps seem like we're more than we are. Avatars allow us to attach pictures to our fake names, thereby adding to our online personas. We blog under our pseudonyms. We attack each other or support one another through these fake identities. We lay claim to a series of words or numbers as extensions of our own selves.

I'm no different. I operate under the identity "Jaggy." I'm not really "Jaggy." My name does not start with a J. No one has actually called me "Jaggy" since high school, and only three people ever used that nickname then. But when I was thinking about what kind of moniker I'd use to pen my blog under, I couldn't help but think back to "Jaggy." I added some numbers to the end just in case the name was already in use elsewhere, not random numbers, but still, some numbers.

The idea of operating under another name has always bothered me. I make a point to be as open and honest with people as possible, yet I don't attach my own name to the things I write here. Seems dishonest. Seems cheap. Perhaps I do cheapen the words by not fully owning them. I don't know. Then again, I'm reminded that safety is a concern. I wouldn't want someone storming my castle for a few words I posted on this obscure corner of the blogosphere. I'd really like to keep the castle-storming to a minimum.

How do you feel about avatars, monikers, pseudonyms, and nom de plumes? Do you feel less honest by blogging under a different or fake name? Do you agree with safety measures (like not using real names or giving away locations)? Where did your online name come from?


Michael Faris said...

I blog and write almost always under my "real" name, though I think avatars/pseudonyms are perfectly valid, unless you're a white male writing racist and sexist crap and you're hiding behind your pseudonym while in a place of power. Though not dishonest, it's just another way to reassert the power of white men.

I certainly agree with trying to be safe by not revealing locations or names. This is especially true for people with less power in public or private settings than others.

elle said...

I have blogged under my real name, and now blog under the current pseydonym, simply because having a stalker changed my natural open honest "happy puppy who loves everyone" persona to someone much more reserved.
While I am always willing to stand by my words, writing about my children (who never had a vote whether or not they appear in mom's blog) was a further consideration to dropping the real name.
It would be nice if we lived in a world where we could use our real names and not have to worry about safety/privacy, but that just isn't the case.
And until we do I will remain Elle or some other name, online!

Jaggy said...

In days gone by, blogging under your real name would not have been a problem as so few people used the internet back then that the chances of anyone knowing you were tiny. However with the world and their dog using the internet and access to it from work, home and mobile devices it is no longer viable. I also use the nickname Jaggy online at www.thejagster.blogspot.com . It is my nickname at work and people who know me will recognise it is me. I have always thought that you should never write anything that you wouldn't be willing to say to someones face. It's all very well having strong views on political or social aspects but you need to be aware that close friends, family and even employers may very well come across or be directed to your blog etc. However, I do not want just anyone being able to identify me, my house, my family and friends from my blog, as I do enjoy a certain amount of anonimity. Which is why I will only ever refer to myself as Jaggy, my wife as Mrs Jaggy and my son as Jaggy junior. This keeps them a safe distance from their peers but still allows me to refer to them as they are a major part of my life and it would be difficult to leave them out.
Keep it up.