Discussion: Anonymous Cowards?


The geek forum Slashdot has an “Anonymous Cowards” designation for those who do not use a name. I always saw that title as a joke rather than a real claim of cowardice.

Many bloggers, as I do, use a nome de clavier. While such anonymity may not represent real cowardice, it does represent legitimate fears. This post is more of a discussion starter: What are those fears, and how much would it mean to lose that anonymity?

Two kinds of revelation

I see two kinds of “outing” possible:

The first is where your readers get to know your real world identity. That is where the readers of your blog (who you likely do not know in real life) find out details of your true name, locality, or occupation.

The second is where those that do know you, find out about your online identity.

Which one would be worse?

For me the second would be more embarrassing. I have used my presumed anonymity to discuss things I might not reveal in person. I suspect that nobody that reads this blog knows me in real-life, so the fact they could put a real name and location to my posts is less disturbing. In essence, I would remain to them an online entity, only with a different screen name.
[I realize that any link of your real name to a screen name it may leak back to real-world contacts]

Fear of what?

The second question asks why such revelation might be uncomfortable. For some it might be due to views expressed. Those views could be unpopular or impolite for your social group, the kind of thing you would not utter in undiluted form for fear of causing offence or ostracization) For some it might be due to personal stories shared. In those cases the stories may cause loss of respect or status amongst your social group.

For me it is the second type. I am careful when expressing views that might not be “acceptable” but do not completely hide them either. Prudence might mean I do not come out swinging but I will not hide in the corner either. My personal stories are not all ones of social success, and as such, I would be less likely to share them. I would worry that on reading this blog, anyone who knew me would move me from reserved/nice/quiet column to the weird/loser column. Such a loss of status would not be a good thing.

Friends or Family?

If such views or stories could cause you embarrassment or loss of status, amongst which group? Which is worse, your friends knowing, your family knowing, or your professional group knowing?

For me all three could cause problems. My views (HBD etc.) could be a problem with employers. Corporate liberalism is the blandest of all “ideologies.” It is not even an ideology but a list of things that may or may not be expressed.

While nobody (friends or family) that knows me would ever imagine me the cool player, I would prefer to not explicitly make clear to them just how uncool and playrish I am. As families, we like to think our kin reflects well on us, I would not like to bring embarrassment to my family. Likewise, we want to assume that our friends are similar to us and will not embarrass us. Uncool stories could also cause a form of de-selection amongst female member of the group (and their friends), and a man always likes to leave his options open.

Over to you.

Now it is your turn. Do you care about anonymity and why?


17 Responses to “Discussion: Anonymous Cowards?”

  1. vasafaxa Says:

    The second would be a disaster.

  2. namae nanka Says:

    No, well maybe about my fetishes that I use the net for, but probably not even that. Depends on how much you think you have to lose, I don’t have much.

  3. Default User Says:

    Which would be worse, family or friends? Would you care about work/professional?

  4. Default User Says:

    @namae nanka
    I suppose I do not have a lot to lose either, but I would still prefer not to lose it.

  5. chic noir Says:

    namae nanka what fetishes do you have?

    my dear default I’m afraid that I’m a bit of an over sharer myself. I don’t have much to lose either, just a a set of salt&pepper shakers from the original Hooters bar&restaurant.

  6. Default User Says:


    I donโ€™t have much to lose either, just a a set of salt&pepper shakers from the original Hooters bar&restaurant.

    Is there an interesting story behind the Hooters saltshaker? I would never tell your friends.

  7. Bhetti Says:

    Well, I don’t care about people on the Internet knowing that much and think the likelihood of crazy netstalkers is low (although there’s the worry over career prospects in terms of someone twisting what I’ve said anywhere… not a significant worry, though, relative to the other aspect especially.)

    My brother actually knows/reads what I’m upto. I might be okay with my little sister knowing when she’s older, but the rest of the family? I used to fear ostracisation and worse, and certainly want to spare them the drama.

  8. Default User Says:

    I don’t believe any of my family or friends know about this blog. I would prefer it to stay that way. It is less about any shame over anything I wrote but more a case of “if I had wanted to discuss it with them I would.”

    I can see the preference to avoid family drama. Is there any drama more dramatic than family drama?

  9. namae nanka Says:

    “namae nanka what fetishes do you have?”

    too many, but the common theme that runs through them is that of a woman causing some physical pain to a man. (with the woman being super hot of course)

  10. An Unmarried Man Says:

    I’m much less concerned than the normal bear about matters of personal revelation, but still I understand your hesitations (and those of most sane people).

    One’s present stake in society dictates much of this. If I was 25 as opposed to 45, I would not write 10% of the crap I do. I’ve somewhat formulated a rough schema of where I’d like the remainder of my life to take me, and much of it does not hinge on the favorable opinion others have of me (or more likely, don’t).

  11. Default User Says:

    @An Unmarried Man
    Even if we are not driven by social convention (and I am not) we do rely on other people. We also rely on their perceptions of us. Respect, status, and standing are something we trade for benefits.

    Those who have earned greater respect, have higher status, and are in good standing (good standing is basically been seen as playing by the “team” rules) will have an easier time receiving the favors that we all need to get through life.

    I am not an advocate of surrendering to convention but I am aware that I do not live apart from other’s perceptions of me.

    Have you mapped out your plan publicly (e.g., your blog)?

  12. chic noir Says:

    namae naka too many, but the common theme that runs through them is that of a woman causing some physical pain to a man. (with the woman being super hot of course)

    thanks for telling. I’m a very nosy bugger ๐Ÿ˜†

    rosy blog attracts a few such women funny enough.

  13. namae nanka Says:

    To make it clearer, I am not the man in them, nor the woman. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. An Unmarried Man Says:

    No public mapping mainly because my “schema” is lacking in specifics, to my detriment. It’s like having a map of a destination but lacking routes.

    Yes, what you say is very true.
    I too believe it’s impossible to sever all connections to the world while still hypocritically indulging in some of its gifts, ie me ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s a slow process of diffusion where my consolidation with society becomes progressively murkier. The diffusion has begun but I’ve got a ways to go, apparently.

  15. Default User Says:

    @An Unmarried Man

    my โ€œschemaโ€ is lacking in specifics, to my detriment. Itโ€™s like having a map of a destination but lacking routes.

    That is funny. I asked because I am in similar place, a sense of the destination but no sense of the route.

    Good luck on that journey.

  16. chic noir Says:

    namae naka To make it clearer, I am not the man in them, nor the woman.

    Now I’m confused?
    [Default says: Some things are best left unanswered]

  17. Linkage is Good for You: Return to Normalcy Edition Says:

    […] User – “Discussion: Anonymous Cowards?“, “In the Style of: Chic […]

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