Kicks Condor

Reply: Very Real Names

Brad Enslen

When I first joined forums and later social networks I purposely used my name, because I wanted to hold myself accountable with anything I posted online. It was common practice back in the forum days to use a nickname. It was my way of forcing self discipline that I wouldn’t say anything online that I wouldn’t say to somebody face to face.

To me, using a real name to hold yourself accountable is kind of like using religion to make yourself behave. It gives you a good feeling of being on the right side—but imagine how much more meaningful it could be to act well without that external incentive. You really can behave just as well with a psuedonym if you mean to. (I tend to think of this as bonhomminity.)

Still, you might be right. I’m not going to defend pseudonyms too deeply—I just think they are fun. They do remind us that this is not really us. It’s just a virtual representation and is different somehow. I still think online handles are as relevant as ever in these times.

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