a little east of reality

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


From Raph:
I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I had used a pseudonym. I could blog about a lot of nasty things and get away with it. So far, I haven't felt a need for writing anything that could "come back and bite," but what if I did come up with something like that in the future? What could I do?

Why do you use a pseudonym, Chosha (is Chosha a real name)?
Things can come back to bite you not because you were nasty, but because what we think is okay changes. For example, lots of people back in the 50s/60s joined the Socialist Party while in college. At the time it seemed like a better way to them, a theory that could revolutionise the way people think about wealth distribution and contribution to society. Then they left college, entered the workforce (or worse, public life) and found that their membership in the Socialist Party (which might have lasted only a few months) was never going to go away, and in a country that worships Capitalism.

Now imagine they'd blogged about it. Spent time and talent extolling the virtues of a new system over their current form of government. Toyed with the idea that anarchy was perhaps the only true path to freedom. Do you think Clinton could have gotten away with the 'I never inhaled' thing if he'd spent hours in college mulling over the wonder of the weed in his blog? That we'd have any conjecture over whether or not Dubbya went AWOL from his National Guard service in order to help run Winton Blount's campaign in Alabama if he'd been a dedicated blogger?

But that's not why I like anonymity on the net. If the things I write come back to bite me, maybe I deserve to own them. They were my thoughts at the time. And I don't use it to be nasty, because several of my real-life friends read (or at least know about) this blog.

There are reasons I don't use my name though. Firstly there's the inevitable security reasons. I'm already giving my real location, details of my real job, etc, so I avoid giving my real name, and I use nicknames that appeal to me for the people I write about. I don't really imagine that anyone's ever going to be so fascinated or incensed by what I write that they need to hunt me down, but it seems prudent.

It also takes away some of the preconceived notions. For example, I've had heaps of people assume that I'm a guy on internet discussion boards. Why? Because I argue logically. They've actually said that's the reason - and how stupid is that? In fact, I've had people turn around as soon as I mention I'm female and start telling me (when they disagree with me) that I'm only arguing certain points 'because I'm a woman'. This from the same people who had assumed I was a guy scant days before. On the net I am the words I write, the ideas I have, the jokes I make. In real life I'm what people see, and what they choose to see. At least to them. Sometimes I feel frustrated that they claim the right to decide who I am. Though the same phenomenon occurs with a blog persona (you have an idea of what you think I'm like, I have an idea of what I think you're like, and probably neither is wholly right) on the net I don't feel the weight of it.

Long live anonymity...whoever he is.

By the way, chosha is a Japanese word. It means writer/author.