The Case for Anonymity

When I was first lured here to WordPress, by my friend and internet boyfriend, I decided to make my WordPress persona anonymous. In other spheres of the internet universe, I am known by my real name. Some of the people who know me here also know me “out there” as well. A few of them have met me in the flesh. I know a few people from here and elsewhere as well. I know their real names and addresses, and their email addresses.

In my case, I don’t mind for most people to know me as the One True Me (meaning the real me, the one with a real name and address and social security and phone number). I really have nothing to hide. Besides, if a person really wants to track you down, there’s a way to do it online, and you don’t even have to divulge your name or location. I’m also a writer-wannabe, so eventually I want to be recognized as such, using my real name.

Now, my husband is also a real person. In “real” life (meaning the physical, non-internet life), he is a pretty big wheel. He’s often quoted in newspapers and such, and if you were to Google his name, you’d find a lot of material there. Unlike me, he doesn’t want the notoriety of his real persona out there. He’s a private, introverted sort of a person, whereas I’m a loudmouthed, opinionated crone-in-making.

My kids are also online. Both use their own real names, which is a bit scary to me. One is only 17 and she can get herself into a lot of trouble. In fact, she has gotten herself into a bit of trouble, but not the kind where we’ll be making the ABC Nightly News. The other one is college aged, and he can get into troubles of his own by using his real name. He’s been touched by an early anti-establishment gene which he obviously received from his mother. I have to remind him to weigh his position carefully and choose his words with even more care, because someday someone may look up his rebel streak on Facebook and refuse to give him a job.

I know of people, here and elsewhere, who want to keep their real selves secret. Some of them do so because they don’t want to be harassed by wackos and nutjobs. I’ve never been stalked online, but I’ve been stalked in real life, and if the online type is anything like the real life stalking, it’s equally as demeaning, invasive and frightening.

On WordPress, I wanted to let some of my weirder thoughts escape from my mind without my friends and relatives in the “real” world who know my “real” name think that I’m totally insane. My “real” self is generally upbeat, somewhat positive, and speaks with a reporter’s voice (or so I am told). So “Pan-Demonic” may seem borderline psychotic at times. I’ve invited some of my “real” friends who know me here to WordPress, with the caveat that they not use my name in comments. If they do, their comment will be zapped.

I can’t see having that kind of freedom if I’m weighed down by my “real” self. However, I understand the case for anonymity and support anyone who chooses to go down that path.