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In praise of nicknames - Input Junkie
June 28th, 2015
10:23 am


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In praise of nicknames
Facebook has a real names policy, rather sketchily enforced.

There are a number of serious, practical reasons to oppose a real names policy-- there are people who need privacy for their safety or to not lose their jobs (I wonder what happened to Ahashuerus(sp?) from rec.arts.sf.written) and there are people who've built a social network around a nickname and losing that network is a serious thing for them.

However, what gets lost in those discussions is the positive argument for nicknames. Nicknames are fun-- they're a realm of playful invention and flexible identity. I don't want that to be lost. Besides, I mostly find nicknames easier to remember. They're generally more varied than real names and they have more emotional resonance.

I don't use a nickname because I assumed that if there was a right nickname for me, it would be obvious to me, and that never happened. (I don't consider nancylebov to be a nickname for Nancy Lebovitz-- it's just a desperate effort to have something a little easier to spell.) Besides, anonymity would be hard-- I've had more than one person say that they hear my voice when they read my writing.

I recommend Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play by James Scott, who started his career of mistrust of centralized authority with research into governments regularizing names. (He also started with research into limitations on nomadism, but that's another large topic.)

First link thanks to supergee. Which reminds me-- Live Journal and Dreamwidth are very usable social sites that *don't* have real name policies at all.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1070862.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:June 28th, 2015 04:03 pm (UTC)
I like having an lj name. It's something you put on for a particular pastime, like tennis whites or a condom.
Date:June 28th, 2015 08:33 pm (UTC)
I avoided google plus because of their real names policy and it's strict enforcement. When it first started, they changed the name on your gmail to match the real name on the G+ account, putting some people in danger.
I hear they've eliminated the real names policy, but the initial situation is hard to forgive.
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2015 10:09 am (UTC)
Google has made it worse. Now, for reasons I can't fathom, there are two separate login pages for giving your email address and your password. When you get to the password page, it shows the name associated with that address.

In other words, Google has provided a facility to find out if an email address is a valid account and, if so, what the name associated with it is.
Date:June 29th, 2015 09:42 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is truly evil!
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2015 03:29 am (UTC)
I use a pseud on LJ, on DW, and on the rare occasions when I write fanfic, but that's mostly because it's the custom of the country . . . given that I'm in the business of writing stuff under my own name, actually pursuing anonymity would feel kind of pointless.

Also, my pseud isn't terribly obscure; anybody who knew me when I was active in the SCA is going to recognize it, and the links back to my actual name aren't that hard to trace.
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