Jumping over the lazy dog

or, taking the bull by the horns.

This post will self destruct in 5…4…3…

The topic du jour is secret identities.  More specifically, secret identities on the web.  Even more specifically, secret identities on blogs on the web.  Okay, I’ll just come out with it: I’m curious to know how people decide on a) their own nom de plume and b) the special names for the characters that trapeze through their posts.

Let’s start with a couple of examples.  One of the blogs I’ve listed in the “Foxy reads” section to the right is Petite Anglaise In one of her first few posts, the author explains her reasons for selecting petite anglaise as her blogging alias, and while eventually she was outed to the public as Catherine Sanderson (and not for the worse, I might add, as now she’s writing under her real name and has a real published novel, to boot), she continues to blog as petite anglaise. As for the characters in her blog (I say characters, as it’s easy to forget that these are real people, living real lives on the other side of the ocean), we have: Mr. Frog  (the former partner and father of her first child), Tadpole (said first child), The Boy (the now husband) and an arrival on the way that has yet to be named.  Now the Mr. Frog title makes sense (he’s French), the Tadpole follows logically and The Boy is aptly named, seeing as he is, I’m assuming, male (which, however, begs the question, why not The Man?).  There are other characters, few and far between, that are mentioned, like the boss, or a neighbor, or what have you, but do not get enough air time to merit an alias.

Or, for example, over at Phil the Pill, we have Phil, the author, who’s gone as far as to use his full name in his biography, but who maintains some sense of privacy by assigning code names to his cast of characters: Heathcliff, Pocahontas, Invisijet, and Lupuskiller. Ok, some of the real people behind those identities even I’m not sure of, and I hang out with the guy.  But it adds an interesting mix to his blog – and it brings me to a point: why mention the real names of people online unless you absolutely have to? And do you ever absolutely have to? Even Perez Hilton is a bit obtuse at times!

I chose to use my real name when I created my WordPress account for simplicity’s sake.  I’ve done the alias thing in the past, my first AIM screenname was something godawful, like NDNPrincess007 or RITA4NSYNC or something else equally teeny-bopper-esque. I’m not going to write anything on this blog that will incriminate me, I don’t think, and I figure if employers are looking to learn more about me, they should get a sense of the whole package anyway – someone once told me the interview was more about seeing if you fit into the company’s culture than whether or not you’re capable of fulfilling the job’s tasks.  So I chose “amritaraja” because that’s who I am.  Granted, the blog’s web address is “www.hellobrownie.wordpress.com.” Yes, that means I’m brown (and friendly – hello reader!).  Did you miss the fact that the blog’s title is an allusion to the classic typographic exercise? And the majority of my audience knows who I am already, since there haven’t been any search-related hits yet, only people stalking me on Facebook.

And if using aliases for the RL people that must be mentioned in a personal blog (since it is about what’s going on in your life, and I’m assuming there are other people in your vicinity) is a matter of preserving their privacy, I’m all for it.  It only bothers me to think that using the aliases online reinforces the divide between “online life” and “real life” – that is, it reinforces the notion of leading double lives (or triple lives, if you consider your private life and your public life in “real life” to be two different things).  Anybody got a cure for that problem? A cure, that is, that doesn’t sacrifice privacy and won’t get me into some lawsuit that will drain me of money I don’t have?

I’ll end this post with a poll: if you were to be mentioned in a blog, how secret should your mention be?  And hey, if you think of a specific secret identity you’d like me to use in this blog, shoot me an email at amrita.j.raja@gmail.com!

Filed under: Close to home, , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the shout out. The nickname thing arose out of a need to not tarnish the professional lives of my friends out of association with me. Also, my friends really like having nicknames.

    Hopefully, someday a clever narrative will arise out of the misadventures of the PtP Nickname Community.

  2. Also, since my cover is blown, you can just refer to me as Phil. Though I suspect you’ll find something semi-embarrassing to call me.

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