Saturday, April 16, 2011
How many people can you really be?
I have been thinking a lot lately about identity and being online. When I first when online on Compuserve, our "handles" were longer than phone numbers (mine was the very catchy, memorable 74220,741) although most of us had our settings to display our real names next to them online. I remember being quite surprised when a friend mentioned to me that she was using a pseudonym on Compuserve. Were people really whom they presented themselves at online? On local "bulletin board systems" most people only used handles-- though honestly I never spent much time on BBS's. In the early days of Internet discussion boards and forums (post Usenet, pre-Facebook) the use of handles was pretty standard, although it varied a great deal as to whether the handles used were readily associated with the user's real names.
I have friends I've know and talked to for years (looking at Cardiogirl) whose real names I don't know. I also have friends whom I've known by both their name on one site and their handle on another site-- and never realized that both were the same person. (glancing at Lord Zod) Facebook seems to have a policy of requiring only real names-- I've heard stories of people who have been locked out of FB for using a handle. Although I have a friend who does. And it was on FB that I was chatting with some folks about all of this name/handle, online-identity stuff, and was a bit surprised at how vehement most of these folks are about only using their real names online. Honestly, it seems to me that life is sufficiently complex that there can be perfectly legitimate reasons that some parts of one's life are better conducted under a different handle.
Where do you fall on this? Do you use your real name Everywhere? or nowhere? Do you use different handles for different parts of your online life?