Pseudonyms on Facebook

[fr] Vrais noms, faux noms, Facebook. Oui, je suis un peu crispée là-dessus.

I have to admit to a bit of a hang-up: I don’t like pseudonyms in real-names-only spaces.The first time I realized I disliked them in that context (and in that context only — I have no problem in general with anonymity/pseudonymity, except that it’s fragile and potentially dangerous to the one who tries to hide, and is bound to be discovered someday) a very long time ago, in another life, when I was very active on an e-mail discussion list called webdesign-L.

At the time, I was still suffering from the paranoia of the newcomer on the Internets: nobody shall know who I am, nobody shall know where I live, nobody shall know what I look like, nobody shall identify me. (Yes, my real online life started in the murky chatrooms of Chatplanet, in 98. I was completely freaked out about these “anonymous strangers”. I’ve come a long way.)

Until I registered climbtothestars.org, I used a pseudonym as my “real name” in all my online dealings: Tara Star. My coming-out as Stephanie Booth was not difficult, because by that time I had become increasingly uncomfortable about the fact that

  1. I was misleading a whole bunch of really nice people about my identity, when they were being honest about theirs
  2. I was starting to build a reputation for myself which was disconnected from my civilian identity.

So, on Facebook it’s different. The few contacts I have who use “fake names” use “obviously fake” names. I knew them offline before connecting to them on Facebook (you won’t find me connecting to people on Facebook that I don’t already know previously somehow or other, by the way).

But it bothers me that Facebook explicitly says “Real Names Please” and that not everyone plays by the rules. Now, I understand the rationale behind the need for anonymity/pseudonymity in some cases. That’s why I say I have a hang-up, because my position is not 100% coherent. It bothers me when people willfully “go against social norms”.

From a more practical point of view, it really annoys me to have to remember that this or that person is using this or that pseudonym on Facebook, when I know them under their real name in meatspace. It makes looking them up and inviting them to stuff complicated. And when they have two accounts, it’s even worse. Which of them do I invite? Thank goodness it’s only a small handful of my contacts that makes me think overtime ;-)

This is an old topic for me – we discussed it at length on Spirolattic.

So, Facebook? Well, my hang-up makes it really difficult for me to say “yes” to friend requests from people who don’t use their real identity (or some minor variation thereof) on Facebook. But well, there are exceptions. So, dear friends-with-two-accounts-or-fake-names, consider what you mean to me if you’re in my contacts!

Thanks to Jon Husband for his question on Facebook, which prompted me to produce this dormant post.

#back2blog challenge (8/10):

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This entry was posted in Connected Life and tagged anonymat, anonymity, facebook, fake name, identity, name, nick names, pseudonymity, real names. Bookmark the permalink.

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