I am, I Said

I’ve always posted under my own name where ever I go on the Internet. I consider it a matter of principle. I can’t help noticing that 99% of the most opinionated flamers and abusive insult-slingers always hide behind pseudonyms in newsgroups and back-blogs. That makes it easy for them to behave in ways they never would if they had to take personal responsibility for their words and deeds. But that’s my reasoning…what’s yours for using your own name or choosing to use a pseudonym or handle instead?

42 thoughts on “I am, I Said”

  1. Before we I online, everyone warned me “Y’gotta be careful!” Don’t give out your name! Don’t say where you live, not even the state! The first thing I registered to do online was to post things at Lucianne.com, and I accidently used my real name as my screen name. I lived in utter fear for about one day.
    I can understand some people not using their real names. When Hunter Thompson died, Lucianne said that he used an alias on her site as well as many other famous people. But I’m not famous and I’m not ashamed of my opinions. Using my name does force me to think twice about what I write, but that’s the way it should be.

  2. Using a pseudonym gives a person the ability to express his or her actual opinions. A real name can constrain a person depending on his or her employer. At least, that’s the way I look at it.

  3. I was talking about this on my own blog (pimp, pimp) the other day… to me my screen name (biglig) is more real than my official name (graham hugh hill), because I got to choose my screen name, but my mum and dad got to pick my real name. Not that I dislike my real name, of course, and I’m very proud to be the 4th hugh hill in my family, but I feel like I didn’t have control over that. It probably doesn’t help that everyone just calls me Graham. I guess because I’m the kind of guy you call by your first name.
    So I don’t post anything I don’t stand by using my screen name. Well, unless I’m drunk, of course. 😉

  4. I usually post under this handle because since I’ve been involved in fandoms on the ‘net – this is what I’ve been called (don’t quite remember the reason why… ).
    My blog is in this name – and I use that to talk about personal as well fandom stuff. When meeting people offline that I’ve met through fandom – most of them call me ‘Fingers’ in person. I’ve gotten used to the name – of course it can cause confusion when your default mailbox is the ‘offline’ name …. *g* (for personal / family stuff).
    Personally I don’t see it as any different from the way some authors choose to use pen names…
    (If this doesn’t make sense – I’ll blame it on the summer cold I’m developing)

  5. I started using my real name, figuring there were enough Marks I was safe. I came up with a screen name when I started having to create variations on my real name for each new site, and couldn’t remember which one went where. Now I’m Carstairs38 at each site I have to log in for. Problem solved.
    I was once treated horribly by someone on a message board. A different person who had talked to him in real life told me repeatedly “He’s not like that in real life. He’s the sweetest man you’ll ever know.” I find it easy to believe that people say things behind an alias and on the net in general they’d never say in real life.
    So, to answer the question, I have a screen name more for convience then anything else and I think some people hide behind them so they can be abusive.

  6. I’ve been kete for my staff and clients all my business life. I’m kete for all my friends. When I went online it never even occured to me to hide behind a pseudonym. I never was frightened about anything on the www.

  7. I have always written under my own name, or a variation there of: Ie Cynthia Potts for my journalism work, CB Potts (My initials) for my smut work. Always figured if I couldn’t put my name on it, I shouldn’t write it.
    However, this has meant that I’ve had to turn down paying jobs. I once had the opportunity to write a story related to local militia groups and their support of a hate mongering activist. I had very real concerns about the physical safety of my two small children and partner if I wrote this story under my own name, and refused to do so under a pseudonym.

  8. “When Hunter Thompson died, Lucianne said that he used an alias on her site”
    This is patently false, another common thing in Internet discussions: a plethora of people who don’t know what they’re talking about but will fight anyone who does to the death. Thompson didn’t surf the web or use a computer. He typed on a typewriter only.
    I’ve been banned under my own name for arguing with facts. They generally aren’t wanted in Internet discussions. However, the good ones want factual information instead of urban legends. One can hope but the odds are long indeed.

  9. Well, I picked mine just to help differentiate me from all the other Michelles in the blogiverse. I just picked Demented Michelle because it was the best I could come up with and it relates to my blog name.
    But I always sign my comments/emails with Michelle or M, I never use Demented to refer to myself. I’ve been surprised, though, at how many people seem to take the Demented part and run with it. It’s organically developed into a moniker of sorts.
    Aside from stories or articles,I don’t post on the internet with my full name because I don’t want to be identified or singled out for things I say online. And there are some things I want to keep private simply as a personal preference. I don’t want someone to google me or my moniker and track down every message board or list I belong to as well as my High School and college.


    Lee Goldberg poses an excellent question. I just happened to be the first one to comment. Pay no attention to my goofs. I bitch-slapped my keyboard for making the mistakes. Check out some of the answers and leave your own.

  11. First reason why I use my real name is: I tend to forget things! So in the beginning of my “online-life” I was too worried to forget which name to use where.
    Second reason is: I don’t have anything to hide! I don’t say or write things that I don’t mean. And if I happen to write something that I am sorry about later, I have no problem to apologize for that – with my real name.
    There is no difference between my online personality and the real-life me.

  12. It is a gender prejudice reality that posts attributed to females are deemed non-confrontational in intent, while posts attributed to men are pre-supposed as rude. If a “woman” says it, it’s taken as either serious food for thought, or a clever, witty observation. A male making the same remark is deemed harsh or rude. I tested out this theory, and it was immediately confirmed. If you are female, you can say almost anything in text and it’s ok. Hence, if i wish to make a statement and have it NOT assumed to be confrontational or rude, I’ll use the internet alias “Ruth Canal” or “Ann Meenwile” (she’s back at the ranch) Sometimes, of course, I may wish to use satire and post absurd agreements with positions with which I actually disagree. In that case, I’ll post as “Justin Nutherdik” It all depends on the forum, the participants, and the nature of the communication.
    In short, I stand up for what I hold dear.
    Anna Recshun

  13. I did consider using a pseudonym when I started up my blog, mostly for personal reasons (there are people from my past whom I prefer to ignore; a pseudonym would have made that infinitely easier), but decided that I like my own name too much, and wouldn’t really be able to mask my personality anyhow.
    On the other hand, there are valid reasons for remaining anonymous. As one example, the Capitalist Lion works in theater in New York, and uses his pseudonym so that he can continue to do so. That’s not paranoia, he’s watched several other people suddenly become personae non grata when their political opinions became common knowledge.

  14. As I said in a comment elsewhere, I think the problem here is that you (and probably some of the rest of the commentators on this blog) don’t understand fannish interaction, specifically that fen have unwritten rules about conduct which have evolved over many years. That’s fine, you don’t have to. But don’t be surprised when that lack of understanding means that you’re treated as if you have the tact of an army mule and the geniality of plutonium. Manners are not the same everywhere.
    Fen understand, none better, that fannish participation can leave them open to being the butt of amusement/bemusement of others, what I call the, “Look at the funny monkeys in the cages, children! Aren’t they funny?” attitude.
    Fen don’t need that in everyday life. Some of us have very responsible jobs: I know fans who are lawyers, business people, nurses, doctors, nannies, accountants, civil servants, actuaries, archaeologists, librarians, programmers and sysadmins. The last thing you need if you’re a doctor (MD or PhD) is some nut looking up your name on the internet, and discovering that Dr Seehra Patel (for example) writes speculative fan fiction around the Babylon 5 universe, or even that she’s an unpublished SF writer who attends conventions.
    The use of a pseudonym is pervasive in fandom and predates the internet. Even people who have nothing in particular to fear will use one, and will be known in the fandoms in which they participate by that name: when I go to a convention, my badge is made out in my usual online name. The only time my “real name” is of relevance is when it comes to paying for my room: even when other fans know it, they would not normally use it and would introduce me to other fans by my fannish name.
    Lee, perhaps I do you a disservice, but it seemed to me from the tenor of your original interaction with the God Awful Fanfiction Forum last year that you did not have any kind of fannish background or understanding of what you had stepped into. I therefore decided not to use my usual pseudonym.
    That decision has, in my opinion, been more than vindicated by the tenor of the discussion around Robin Reid and RPS. The treatment meted out to her I found infuriating: fans regard that kind of ‘outing’ as insupportably rude.
    The name P M Rommel is sufficiently identifiable with my writing that other fans who know me well will take one look at the name and think, ‘Oh, that’s [xxxx].’ A few will read my comments and recognise me from other public comments I’ve made – a very few have been lifted almost verbatim from previous discussions on the subject within fandom: I am not representing my views as one thing here and another to fellow fen.
    The accusation by David Montgomery – that I’m somehow a ‘fraud’ – I do not entirely understand. The views expressed under the name ‘P M Rommel’ are the views of a real-life person, and I’m not participating in these discussions under any other names or as an ‘anonymous’. The Hotmail email address is working: it’s not an address I check every day (I use it primarily for receiving feedback on my stories) but I’ve been using it for some years.
    “P M Rommel” from whom I borrowed the name is known as the Desert Peach. And before you leap to any conclusions and start emailing her, I am not Donna Barr.

  15. I started using a handle because I was afraid to post opinions in my own name. The people I work for (local govt) are vindictive and brutal. I think they google for comments by employees.
    The problem is that as a taxpayer, I have a right to my opinion. As an employee, I’ll be crucified at work it I express them.

  16. Does ‘blogswarm’ here mean, “Having said something which annoyed some people, I dislike the fact that those people have used the freedom of the internet to supply a counter-argument”?
    If so, you may be right.

  17. I use my own name because it keeps me honest. I get angry like everyone else when I read certain things, but posting under my own name helps keep me from flaming out.

  18. David, I’m interested: what kind of ‘comebacks’ do you mean?
    You see, if by that you mean, ‘receive annoyed emails from strangers’ how is simply supplying a working email address (which I do and always have done) any different to using your own name?

  19. Anybody who thinks I’m a funny monkey is correct.
    But let me get this straight: It’s unsupportably rude to correctly attribute a piece of fiction, but there’s no problem with using an author’s creations against his or her will.
    Looks to me like toddler reasoning: What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.

  20. “fannish… fen”
    Now *that’s* cute English! Being German, I didn’t know that other forms of ‘fan’ and ‘fans’ exist…
    How fanny!

  21. Burl,
    I’d like to take strong exception to your arguement that women’s comments are automatically given a pass when men’s comments aren’t. I’ve seen some women treated horribly for how they expressed an opinion. And there’s one board I won’t go to anymore because of the women on it. The men I keep in touch with via e-mail.

  22. I don’t have the imagination to use a penname, so I use my real name. This limits me. I work for a newspaper, so I absolutely do not blog about what goes on there.
    But it also keeps my temper in check and forces me to be more careful in how I say something. I consider this a good thing. There’s plenty of people out there who act like three-year-olds that one less will not be missed.

  23. The only thing is that it can compromise your security if you dangle your real name on a world wide network. I generally use my real name, or a carefully crafted facsimile of it.

  24. Then what are you afraid of Rommel? Why not use your real name?
    Why should I? What difference would it make? I’ve supplied a working email address, and if you want to email me, you can.

  25. I put my name on everything I write. Aorking e-mail address leading to an anonymous blogswarmer is meaningless. They’re afraid and cowardly as David said. We agree on that much.

  26. I started using an online name partly because I didn’t want my family accidentally coming across things they really didn’t want to know about me, and partly to provide a degree of anonymity for my kids – not that they need it now, but I do write about them a lot and it might become a concern when they get older.
    But I’ve never written anything, anywhere, that I wouldn’t say in my own name.

  27. This may be kind of a dumb answer, but when I use a handle (usually the highly deceptive ‘daisyj’, if it’s available, or my Yahoo ID) it’s mostly just to fit in with everyone else who’s using one. (What can I say, I’m a slave to peer pressure.) I tend to stay away from contentious topics, and my name is usually linked to my own website anyway, so the need for anonymity never really occurred to me.

  28. I’ve been a victim of identity theft & harrassment by a bunch of horny teens, which came about when I started using the net over 7 years ago. The teens (I think, I hope) started spamming me with nude/sex/porn sites from everywhere & I felt like I had to take a shower after every encounter. I admire anyone with the balls to use their own name & there’s prob a lot less spamming going on now, but I wil never do it again.

  29. I use my real first name and a couple easily traceable screen names. With a little effort,I believe someone could easily find out my complete name, so I make every effort to post in ways I would not be ashamed to have my full real name associated with. However, I see no need to be googlable for everything I write. Neither am I anxious to be a victim of identity theft or targeted harassment.

  30. Spam can be blocked. Not wanting your name to come up in Google searches is another reason some authors cite. I still maintain honesty is the best policy and so I do as Lee does in this regard. It’s working with a shield wielded as needed.

  31. Dearest Carstairs 38,
    Anecdotal evidence,we agree, is derived from subjective experience. Generalizations are, generally speaking, non-specific. Your experiences, and mine, are part of a wide spectrum which, in general, has certain characteristics that you or I, specifically may or may not experience. Will Rogers said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” I could refer him to several despicable fellows from whom he would, if alive, recoil for fear of death, or for whom he would develop a marked aversion if only for reasons of hygene. Bret Maverick once said “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, and those are pretty good odds.”
    I appreciate your comments.
    Best regards,
    Major Eiswater

  32. Of course, even people posting under their real names can wreak havoc. Recently, one person, posting incessantly and viciously under their own name, caused a prominent blog to remove comments altogether.
    Sometimes, you just can’t win.


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