Psuedanonymity in an Age of Onymity
I've been writing a lot but under different guises and pseudonyms. I've found it very helpful to fragment everything. It's also been a bit of a pain the ass sometimes. Did I really mean to post that there? But it also means that different minor notes have had room to grow and develop. The impression of something like anonymity has been helfpul too. I don't mind at some point, later, claiming any of these identities. They are, after all, all true. But they have not all been equally expressed or expressible.
What do I want to do under my own name? I find that the accounts with my own name lie dormant most of the time. That is telling. There's the pressure of expectation. There's the official uses that I have and professional reputation. There's the simple fact that I've had to remove myself from some projects and long term work and I'm not entirely sure that others would understand why I needed my space for this kind of activity rather than servicing their needs and projects (that's the martyr talking of course).
I'm not on the Zuckbook anymore, but they have a policy of course that you have to use your real name. They claim that that's for community is clearly garbage; they want to be able to track you as completely as possible. They don't really need your name to do that anymore, but hey, it makes a whole lot of things easier.
There are two books I read as a younger man which are back on my radar and seem ripe for re-reading. The first is Charles Taylor's Ethics of Authenticity. The second is a book that Taylor wrestles with, Lionel Trilling's Sincerity and Authenticity. Both are worth a read (and a re-reading) in our current age of technological individualism. (I suspect too that I should give a re-read to the nerdopedia of The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy s.v. authenticity)
I came across this reflection on Taylor's work in our current moment; it is not simple as a summary but makes an important set of points, especially at the end.
I find that, for now at least, multiple semi-anonymous outlets is a greater truth, more authentic and more sincere, than if I were out proclaiming myself and my awesomeness on twitter. Why is that? Is identity through social media now so fake and constructed and corporate and performative that it is in fact a place of radical inauthenticity? How is it that a little small stakes anonymity allows for something that feels so much more real and more authentic?
[Word nerd footnote: I don't think the word pseudanonymity exists, but it should. I mean pseudo anonymity, “sort of anonymity”, which is a distinct difference from pseudonymous.]