Monday, December 29, 2014

On Pseudonymns

A post at Feminist Philosophers discusses why some bloggers feel the need to write under an alias, and the respect this decision necessitates.  The reasons are primarily around safety.  Bloggers - particularly female bloggers - can get some nasty comments.  Sexually aggressive comments are the pinnacle of this escapade.

I used to write under a pseudonym.  When I was on mat leave with my youngest, now ten, I wrote a mommy blog that got about 100 times the traffic as this blog.  I was able to write a few times a day, targeting a niche audience.  I wrote short posts about babies, sex, and the trials and tribulations of a relationship going sour.  In some blogging circles, it was gold.  But I stopped because a couple wankers went to town on the hate-rape comments.  I had a blog-specific e-mail that filled with the vitriol daily.   I blocked them, but they kept coming back with different identities.  Or there were a lot of them - but the consistency of the posts, times of day they'd arrive, wordings, etc. made me think there were only two or three.

It was enough for me to pack it in.  I had better things to do anyway.

Now, curiously, I write with my real name and photo and lots of details about where I live and work.

Seems crazy, right?  Am I just baiting the creepers to come find me?

I actually started writing without a pseudonym in part because, when I had one, I always worried that I'd be found out.  I worried that something I wrote could be traced to me and cause me to lose my job.   (Good teachers don't talk about sex on the interwebs.)  Without an alias, I'm more careful to write as if everyone I know is reading.  I don't have to worry about being found out if I'm out already.  Secrecy is always so burdensome.

Writing personal crap is fascinating reading to many, but it's limited.  It's hard to do it well without getting sucked into whining to get the rewards of multiple ((((hugs)))) in the hundreds of comments following.  It can lead to self-absorbed writing that only barely mimics more interesting self-exploration.

I don't write on a personal level much here, so that distances me from any audience.  And I don't have much traffic, so I can still get my long-winded thoughts down, get the occasional comment or two, and avoid any obnoxious e-mails.  Keeping it real, keeps me much more authentic and thinking, rather than barfing out a free-for-all of gossipy rants.

But I also wonder if safety through anonymity is illusory.  At school we're warned that, even if we write under a pseudonym, if we're found out through a search of IP addresses, then we're still on the hook for everything we say.  And it's similar for people writing for safety from predators.  Anyone can be found now.

But beyond being found, I think people act differently towards a real name (or a reasonable facsimile) and a fake one.  I think it's harder to slam people when you're looking their photo in the eye and addressing them by name.  I might have an easier time saying something snide to Giraffeboy37 with an avatar than I would to Dave in his Christmas sweater.

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