We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Monday, October 3. 2011
“God is not God’s Name” but rather “I AM WHO I AM”, meaning everything that exists.
So, is it OK that so many bloggers and commenters use pseudonyms? Are their opinions godlike? Or, are they just afraid to reveal themselves completely?
Some have jobs or friendships that they feel may be endangered, others do not, and others just want to be rude or snarky or such without responsibility, accountability or consequence.
Do pseudonyms reduce their credibility? If someone has something worthwhile to say, they believe, I think they should stand behind it publicly, not hide behind a pseudonym.
Moses used his real name.What do you think? Real names get more points.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
I chose a pseudonym at the suggestion of others. But most people do know I'm "Rick". I'd prefer not sharing my last name publicly though it's probably easy to figure it out.
I think pseudonyms can be useful in particular situations.
Retribution for coming forth with unsettling facts and information occurs frequently. If I chose to call HR and expose an SVP who was engaging unacceptable behavior, how can I be sure nothing would happen to me? Anonymity is supposed to be assured, but rarely is.
How can you draw attention to a problem if you fear being fired for doing so? The same is true in the world of blogging. If someone at work takes offense to something you've written anonymously, and knows who you are, it can lead to termination.
Sometimes, hiding behind the pseudonym is the best, if not perfect, way to keep lives separated. In doing so, it begs the question "what do you have to hide?" Sometimes, nothing. Other times, quite a bit.
There is no easy answer. If the world was fair and just, then the answer would be simple.
Great question, though. Why do all the good questions have difficult answers?
Ideas should stand or fall on its own merit and not on the notoriety of the author.
Would Krugman's thoughts carry the same weight without his name? What of the cadre of bureaucrats pushing the same thoughts?
How long would AGW have survived if not for the "merit" lent it by continuous rounds of well trained thesbians and knowledgeable politicians?
Names distort the sense of an idea's credibility by tying unrelated credit earned by the author to the idea.
Does a name attached to an idea make that idea more correct? In the minds of too many.
Should it? No.
So far, three comments. Two pseudonymous, and one from another Maggie's Farmer, using his real name and who like me is a Vietnam vet.
Does that tell you something?
PS: I have the original BBC Radio 4 production of Hitchhikers Guide - to tell you the truth, it's much better than anything that followed - including the books.
You might want to explain the 42 reference though. :>)
Agree that 42 is the answer.
Also, would add that anonymous/pseudonym commenting or blogging would seem to make some sense for a domain that is more about sharing/voicing opinions - as opposed to the work world, for instance, which is more about taking appropriate actions to get the work, whatever it be, done. I am not sure that the name matters so much for a blog (don't blogging sites have ways of shutting down commenters who are just there to be snarky or rude? although that is probably a pain to monitor)
I do think that they would become less interesting as people would tend to be more guarded at least initially, if there was no anonymity due to some fear of repercussions as noted above.
That we 'da man? Or men? Something like that.
Out of curiosity, is there a Fighter Girl? Get it? Bomber - fighter?
Even you know that needs no explaining. It just needs a question.
I like the answer, below, that ideas stand on their own merit. I agree with the comment regarding Krugman. His ideas get 'extra' value because he attaches his name and has adherents who believe he is always right, even when he contradicts himself (the Ponzi one was a classic, I couldn't believe he tried to extricate himself from that by saying he never said it was doomed to fail - of course, that is what all Ponzis do, so...).
How many roads must a man walk down?
You suggesting I fight with a vietnam vet?
You and I have discussed this in email before. It's an old question.
I'd offer up three replies:
1. Given the number of left-wing zealots out there, any right-winger who wants to hide behind a pseudonym has my complete blessing. "Safety first", and all that. There's no sense in dying over some crappy blog post. Or being fired, as Bulldog mentions above.
2. Who's to say a name that sounds like a real name is actually the person's name? That's the real hole in the argument. How about if I pick the name "Bruce Kesler"? Sounds real enough, doesn't it? But the only way to prove it is if all bloggers and commenters first submit a notarized copy of their drivers license, right? My guess is that would really cut down on both blogs and comments.
3. But, with that said, I'd say the rules change slightly when you get on an A-List site like Pajamas where everybody else is using their (apparent) real name. If you look in their sidebar, there are all the contributing authors, complete with pictures and (apparent) real names. All except one: "Zombie". It just looks weird, sitting alongside all those (apparently) real people.
Ditto Hot Air. Jazz and Tina and Ed all (appear to) use their real names, but there's ol' Critic of God -- excuse me -- "AllahPundit", hiding behind his 'mask of anonymity'.
Of course, given that AllahPundit is the biggest RINO in the right-wing blogosphere, maybe he's got a point.
The one word in your post that confused me was "rude". How does one not be rude in a blog post? I write something as innocent as a movie review ("Sherlock Holmes") and enough people find that 'rude' that they come out of the woodwork to tell me in the comments what an awful movie it was. A post that no one found 'rude' would be described as 'publum'.
Anyway, I'll stick with #2. All you're really arguing for is that people use real-sounding names, and I don't see how that changes the content of a post. Anyone who gauges the quality of a post by the author's name is a lightweight.
"and one from another Maggie's Farmer, using his real name and who like me is a Vietnam vet. Does that tell you something?"
Yes. Both you and Tom are really, really old. :)
er, that you are leading in points?
Voting is also anonymous, fwiw. I vote early and often, of course.
Since you rest on your #2: My name, bio, credentials, and photo have appeared in newspapers and other venues for 45-years.
Some blogs do require registration to Comment, with real ID. Hasn't reduced the value of the Comments nor their number.
As to AllahPundit, he likes to joke being a RINO. I don't think he is, and I'm verified as a non-RINO.
Yes, Tom and I are in our 60s. Old enough to have learned and behaved to put our lives where our mouth is. Real names do earn extra points.
I KNOW! Isn't it amazing? He writes so intelligently as a blogger, doesn't he? I mean, compared to the Paulborg automaton he is in the political post comments. 'Amazing', is the only word.
I warned him, though. I told him he was more than welcome to write on Paul's influence on the election, but if he turned it into a campaign ad, his ass would be grass.
"...and that's how Ron Paul, just the most awesomely incredible person in the entire universe and eminently deserving of your vote, affects the Bachmann contingent."
I almost threw up writing the words. :/
I'm in agreement with you, Bruce. As usual. When I first discovered the blogosphere in 2004, I decided that, since I'm opinionated as H*ll, I had better control my outbursts [somewhat] by signing my real name. Since anything one posts on the Internet is there forever, this honest use of my name meant, to me, that I endorsed my own comments and stood by them, and would if necessary defend them.
So far, my house hasn't been fire-bombed, though who knows what will happen next spring when the Socialist liberals get really worried about their hero The Won possibly losing the election. We do have at least three Muslim families living in our little middle-class suburb. Are they the elusive "moderate Muslims" mentioned so often by the Liberal elite but never sighted in real life. Who knows? At any rate, we'll see.
I blog and comment anonymously. When I publish a comment in my own real name, I take care not to say anything I wouldn't say at Thanksgiving dinner in the presence of friends or family whom I know very well to be shocked by my political and religious beliefs. It's not that I wouldn't wish to defend my beliefs, but more that I'm prepared to defend them in a fashion too vigorous to be appropriate for these personal contexts. I figure anyone who's reading my views under the name of "Texan99" can stop reading if he's offended, something that's more difficult for family and friends.
I think John the River is a better AKA.
My last name is as common as mud locally, Irish names south of Boston is choice A, choice B is Italian.
John isn't much better. Put the two together and ...
Let me put it this way. Last year, the John Cahill that lived three miles away caused a accident the resulted in a pedestrian fatality, the accident occurred in front of my house. My name is John Cahill. After the newspaper story came out I had a few friends thinking I had killed someone. I never had any connection with the Irish side of the family, only with the Danish side. The food was better. So don't make the assumption I'm Irish at heart, I'm a Dane.
Second, you hear Cahill, you think Catholic. Mom was a protestant, Dad converted. I first learned to be indifferent about Catholics, then, in college, appreciate many of their values. But growing up I got a lot crap from them. Especially my cousins, their mother told them I was going to hell and they were going to heaven. It's a good thing that my mother never told me the big secret when I was younger, I might have never gotten over my irritation with my cousins religion. The big secret was that my fathers mother called my mother at work, when she was pregnant with me. She called to tell her that moms husband, her son, had been killed at work. My father died in 2004 cutting the grass at home. Gram-ma was hoping she would miscarry. Now that is intolerance. Today I'm a Congregationalist, better food, great Saturday night suppers.
I don't have to worry about being fired, I was laid off last year (I'm laid off if I find another job, If I don't , I was retired). My wife passed away so the only person I have to protect against the Red Hordes is myself.
I'm John the River.
HA!! Figure that one out!! :>)
So old - so very very old. :>)
LOL! We had the family over for dinner last week and my Granddaughter mentioned that she was learning about Vietnam. Neither of her parents knew about it and had never told her I was a Vietnam vet.
So I asked her what she was learning as I had been there. She asked when I was there and I said during the war - I was a Vietnam veteran.
She looked at me with shock on her face and said "You're THAT old?"
Smart ass teenager. :>)
I lost a fairly substantial art sale because the customer Googled me and saw that I had donated $200+ to John McCain in 2008. One could ask if customers like this are desirable in the first place, and the answer is that any customer in this economy who isn't shooting at you is valuable. I now keep my politics off the web by using 5/8 of my real name as my nom de plume on blogs, and I never give a candidate a contribution over $199.99, thereby avoiding internet political donation databases.
Only the reckless and the retired should use their real names. If I was still hiring, no one to the left of Attila the Hun would get the job.☺
~ Smokey, Viet Nam vet.
Is it reckless to be forthright and open? No. It is integrity, brave, and moral.
Let those who aren't make rationalizations, but they are excuses.
True story. I had (and have - this is about the assholes) some "progressive" friends. My sister-in-law, Lyndia Downey, is CEO/COO of Pine Street Inn - one of, if not the, largest homeless shelters in the world. Also very progressive. Been CEO/COO a long time and has done a hell of a job bringing Pine Street into the 21st century.
She won an award a year or so back - very prestigious although for the life of me I can't remember what it was - something important anyway. I mentioned this to my liberal friends and THE FIRS THING THEY DID WAS LOOK UP HER FEC DATA!! Can you imagine? The reason was even more astounding - in that how could I be such a pain-in-the-ass conservative when my sister-in-law was such a liberal angel?
I did two things - told them that my brother is to the right of me which places him with Attila the Hun in terms of politics and that I would never, EVER, speak to them again because of their petty bullshit. Yes, I said bullshit.
I don't want friends who are that petty.
I'm old enough to remember Vietnam, and my uncle died flying for John Paul Vann. I remember watching the war on TV, and I remember his funeral vividly.
My wife doesn't remember much at all about the war, which says something about how families can be raised differently. We're the same age, and she wasn't as aware.
Today, my boys have a lacrosse coach - Marine, 2 tours in Iraq. I do my physical training with him, too. Great guy. Doesn't talk much about his time there, but will answer questions if asked directly.
Different war, but my boys now have a direct link to 'their' war just as I had to mine. It's useful, because he provides context for them. My older son is considering ROTC partially due to his relationship with his coach. It doesn't hurt that I keep encouraging him to do it.
Can we reach back to Dr. Merc's prior post and blame the Bloomers? The retired folk and the current generation (whatever we are calling them...I got lost after GenX term) certainly seem to have no problem putting it out there, names and all.
For myself, (not at this too long) I was following along with the current on the few blogs I read. While some of the Bloggers used their names (mainly the larger blogs), most of the commenters didn't. Since I was reading them for the exchange of ideas, names, real or not, didn't seem to matter much (I forget names anyway - and who knew if they were real anyway) and the invented ones seemed to have a bit more spirit, given that they are chosen by us, not for us.
Your points are interesting though. However, not sure I would want to deal with modern day hassles of potential issues arising out of commenters using real names. Not sure I view it as much an issue of bravery or integrity as of good use of time. Other good fights to be fought in perhaps more relevant realms.
How are your political views in any way related to art?
I happen to enjoy Pink Floyd, and I've seen Roger Waters many times. He's an outrageous, crazy Socialist. He is vocal about it. When I took my sons to see him I was clear about one thing:
"Art is not about politics. Roger is very political and will say things I do not agree with and that I consider to be very poorly informed. This should not, in any way, take away from your enjoyment of the music."
Sadly, Roger feels it's his 'duty' to attempt to brainwash people who are unable to think for themselves. I don't like it, but I still really love his music. So why would I deprive myself of an enjoyable experience because of politics?
I can't imagine why anyone would do that.
"Other good fights to be fought in perhaps more relevant realms."
Never met a fight that's right yet to avoid.
ever have teens?
More seriously, (although the term "pick your battles" with teens does have some long term good parenting sense. At least I hope) I am referring to potentially getting mixed up with some odd characters who react strangely to one's words (even words one would happily defend). That's a battle that should be avoided, in my view - and it is not about lack of belief in what one says. Call it living to fight another day if you want.
Seriously, why should we not unhesitatingly use our real names?
The site "Geek Feminism" has compiled a long list of good reasons many Internet users want to be allowed to post anonymously. It is probably the only thing they say that I agree with.
Dunno. I thought a clever handle was what blog-commenting culture asked for, just to be entertaining. So I came up with one in order to comment at "Ship of Fools" years ago. My name is David Wyman, which is not all that interesting. While "Assistant Village Idiot" might make it harder to track down who I really am (it doesn't in my case, though), it actually tells you a bit more about me than my name does.
It was a time honored traditions in newspapers to publish opinions and letters to the editors under pseudonyms. Benjamin Franklin first wrote for his brother's paper as "Mrs Silence Dogood" and published Poor Richard's Almanac as "Richard Saunders". The authors of the Federalist Papers were collectively anonymous. I lost a job one time for using my real name in a letter to the local paper. I won't make that mistake again. It may be cowardly or prudent but not stupid. I enjoy commenting on various blogs occasionally but I won't be censored for fear of supporting my family.
--my real last name but my life-long nickname. Not maximum ease for the Gestapo, and no one who knows me would recognize my actual given name at any rate. So not an official real name but not one a them psoodynims neither, hmm.
re 'It is integrity, brave, and moral."
I think that you are right about that Bruce.
However, the amateur psychoanalyst in me speculates that in using one's real name, one is also trying to call attention to oneself. "Hey! This is MY opinion. It is important because it is from ME!'
Perhaps there is a streak of narcissism those that use their real name?
As for me, I am content to be an obscure peasant, laboring in anonymity.
My usual rule is to communicate in my own name with anyone who wants to contact me individually, which they can do initially at email@example.com. Until the conversation becomes one-on-one, though, I stick to the nom-de-plume.
Part of the reason is that I prefer to use a gender-neutral i.d. at least at first in any forum. My name, however, for anyone here who could conceivably be interested, is Wendy Laubach.
I do sometimes wonder whether the full and frank exchange of views I'm having on some site with an anonymous correspondent might turn out to be with someone I know in real life who would be offended by my message or tone if he knew whom he was communicating with. That in turn makes me wonder whether I shouldn't guard my tone better as a general rule.