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What's with the wacky names?

  1. May 23, 2003 #1
    Something I'm curious about is, Why do so many people use some goofy pseudonym instead of using their real names when they post to forums? It seems to me that hiding behind a monicker distorts a person's personality and fragments society.

    Perhaps someone could explain the logic behind the desire to remain anonymous. I've heard some government agencies and some big business conglomerates advocating using phony names in all your internet conversations, but they have their own reasons for wishing the general population to be fractured and non-interactive on a personal level. Part of their agenda has always been to keep the majority population passive so that they can be controlled better.

    I would like to know why intelligent people posting to a science forum would adopt pseudonyms. The Ku Klux Klan was famous for hiding their heads behind hoods and out of the mouth-hole of them they would hurl all manner of invective at other segments of society. But once they had their hoods off and they had to walk about in the light of day, their behavior moderated so that they couldn't be identified as the dorks in the white hoods. Now I don't mean to imply that everyone who uses a psuedonym has an evil disposition, but it cannot be denied that some people on the net must get a sadistic relish out of insulting other people, so long as they know that they will not be identified for real.

    I have yet to find a need for hiding my identity on the net, so I am genuinely perplexed as to why the majority of people feel the need to hide themselves. Surely the majority of people can't be paranoid, or criminals? So what are the reasons?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2003 #2
    John. You said it yourself, anonymity.

    In my particular case, I have no middle name. My name is unique such that almost nobody in the world would have it.

    When you do a google search for my name, you come up with one match. that page is no longer existant, but google caches sites.

    I've one by one removed every webpage on the internet that had my name (I used my name for a little while). So now I don't exist.

    SOmeone will question this, but I promise you, I have had at my disposal masters of cyber-work, working for me.

    Also, my lastname.com hasn't been registered yet, and altho my full name never will be unless I do it, I wish to get my lastname.com before anyone else does.

    It's just anonymity. No one online knows my name. I don't use messengers, and I have only one email addy which IS my name. But, it's almost nowhere. I had plenty of BS emails for other crap, but I've sinced purged it all to my own.

    I chose my name because it specifically identifies something about me that matters here.

    Atheism is broad enough that it has many "deonomination" to it. One of them, a denomination I created and first published about, is "logical atheism".

    Now, unless someone here has read my publication, I know no one here knows it's actually a defined type of atheism. But nevertheless it definies itself in its own term.

    That's me!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2003
  4. May 23, 2003 #3
    You know, although it's rarely needed and isn't to serious of an issue, it also provides safety.

    For instance, I know your name is John MacNeil and I know you live in Ottawa. (Assuming this is correct) I could use the online phonebook to find the MacNeil, John listings in Ottawa. Or even use telemarketer databases to get your cell phone.

    I could furthermore get your house address, use an online investigator to find your work, and stuff.

    If one wanted to and had resources, one could do this in a few moments.

    But for me, one would have to do a bit more work because they wouldn't be able to get my name from anywhere here. It'd take a bit more "hacking" I suppose.

    I could also google a - "john macneil" ottawa - search and see what I get.

    Do you happen to?

    1. be a head football coach for any age team?
    2. Have been a witness of the marriages of John M & Christy?
    3. be or have been on the community advisory for the pharmacists association of novia scotia?
    4. etc...

    Perhaps those are not you. But there's more, and those are a john macneil in ottawa!

    I sure wouldn't want people to be able to find anything about me. I'd give ya'll my name to just see if you guys could dig anything up, but then again there's a reason ya don' thave my name!
  5. May 23, 2003 #4
    fragments society? you have to be kidding.
  6. May 23, 2003 #5
    because this will make me more mysterious. ha.
  7. May 23, 2003 #6
    Distorts your personality? You don't get any choice over your real name, you do over your handle/pseudonym. It also makes people somewhat more distinguishable, instead of having a million Johns and Rachels. Mainly it's just custom...
  8. May 23, 2003 #7
    Your name appears on a google search if you use it on a forum.

    I want to remain a little annonymous.
  9. May 23, 2003 #8


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    Are you kidding ?!
    Evil hackers will eat me alive !!!
  10. May 23, 2003 #9
    Personally, I do it to fracture communities.

    Nice to know my sinister plan of subversion through comedically ludicrous nicknames is working.
  11. May 23, 2003 #10
    In addition to allowing you to remain annonymous, a user name allows people to grasp a peice of you without ever reading a thing you say.

    A user name is a way of telling someone at first glance the type of person you are, or more often, wish to be. However, that in itself can tell people something about you.

    It also allows you to fit in with the crowd. It also allows an expression of individuality, in most cases.

    My two cents :smile:
  12. May 23, 2003 #11


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    Considering, in many cases people just write
    the first thing that comes into mind.
    For example, my username is not at all supposed
    to actually mean drag, it's just that I ussualy
    used the callsign Dragon in many computer games
    and when I first logged on on PF2 thinking this
    is just a "one thread experience" I used a short
    version of this callsign. Then I kept it in PF3
    just so that others could identify me.

    Live long and prosper.
  13. May 23, 2003 #12


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    Haha... This one's real funny.

    What's so different between the goofy pseudonyms and their real names? Hell, what does someone's real name tell you? Zilch. Hell, most people's real names are goofier than their pseudonyms.

    Would you prefer we call each other Borg #1352? I don't actually see much of this mythical hiding around. In fact, a pseudonym says usually much more about a person than their real names. Looking at LogicalAtheist, I can easily tell (a) He thinks he is logical and (b) He is probably an atheist. Looking at John MacNeil tells me there's a man out there called John MacNeil. Completely non-useful, except for pointless stereotypes or if I happen to live next door. On line, the use of a real name is often in fact hiding what is really important online - your personality. It indicates someone who finds his own name of special importance. Sometimes it's justified - nod to greg, sometimes it's individualistic - like you have a real wacky name, sometimes it's just arrogance. There is a good reason why in the Matrix, Neo does not want to be called Mr Anderson. In the context, that name has no meaning. At heart, we all know there is no spoon. The goofy pseudonym does not distort personality - it shows it off. The mask that reveals.

    Fragment society? What's wrong with that? If we wanted a society where everyone is the same, we would all be talking to ourselves. Not fun.

    Whatever you say, person with meaningless name.

    But you see, they have all the SAME hoods. This created the mob, the "unified society". This is the danger of a non-fragmented society.

    At least when they put their hoods on, we knew who they really were. I find it more chilling that these people can be hiding their real feelings and hatreds behind smiling faces. It is better to have a name that suits you, or an appearance that represents who you are, than to hide in plain sight. Better the devil you know...

    So if your opponents insult you, you try to track them down and go to their house?
  14. May 23, 2003 #13
    I understand how some people would be more comfortable being anonymous, but for the majority of people in society that goes against the grain of conventional behavior. I've never run across anyone in a bar or a club who only wished to be referred to as Pluto9, or some such thing. Usually the attention to personality is desired and much sought after. Like...who wouldn't want to be on television and have millions of people know who they are? How are you supposed to make an impression on the world if all you are is a monicker that will disappear when the forum is retired? Who will ever know your real contribution to the universe of thought?

    The security angle doesn't strike a chord with me, either. There are phone books in every city and they have your name and home address in them, and the city you live in is the most address you give on the net. The phone book is a much more logical place for someone to seek you out than on the net. And there are also search sites on the net which are specifically designed for finding people, if that was anyone's inclination.

    The angle about presenting a persona through one word is interesting, and I suppose it has precedence with truckers using "handles" on their CB radios.
  15. May 23, 2003 #14


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    Mine is out of habit. In the first online forum in which I participated, I participated in a BBS RPG and played two characters, Drafna and Hurkyl. Hurkyl became the one I played most often, so I stuck with that name as I moved on to other "nearby" forums, and I opted to stick with the name in general.
  16. May 24, 2003 #15
    My real name is Slack Bastard Who Spills Food All Over His Chin And Has A Terrible Lisp And A Wonky Leg. So I use "Adam".
  17. May 24, 2003 #16
    I think this is a really interesting question. Many things today are done on an impersonal level. For instance, in some places, you can shop for groceries by checking out without the assistance of any checkers or store workers, you do it yourself with a credit/debit card. You even scan your own stuff!
    I believe the internet to be such a place. Perhaps not about privacy, and not quite about anonymity. But you are not in a place where people know your name, or recognize your face. You can be a different you when you are on the internet. Does this make sense at all?!? I don't know, just some thoughts. But there is a book by Daniel Miller, and its some sort of anthropological look at the internet. It may shed some light on the matter of anonymity and/or "handles" used when on the internet.
  18. May 24, 2003 #17
    I find myself having to register so many times to internet services usually I cant be bothered and just guess somebody elses username/password and use that. Of course I make sure they are no longer using the account :) this also helps keep databases down to a managable size and cuts the cost for the people who run these services.
  19. May 24, 2003 #18


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    you didn't get a chance to pick your name when you were born, but now you do.

    also, you're a different person online. it's like a new identity.

    and when some of us become anti-bush or anti-government, it makes it harder for the dohs to round us up!:wink:
  20. May 24, 2003 #19
    Hello John MacNeil,
    Let me make a few comments;
    Don’t be so sure, you could be talking to one now.
    Yes, all does seem to be ego, true? But it is possible to satisfy my own ego by being ‘known’ on a much smaller scale.
    Why do you feel that the posters here are all need to be trying to impress the world? I like to tell a joke, here an interesting twist on a particular subject, and scratch my earlobe…
    Anyone who was moved by what you had to say.
    Uh, read here; https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2417
    Why make their job easier for them?
    Where will you learn the most about someone; from the phone book, or from monitoring what they say to others?
    I think anyone can be found (except Osama, Jimmy Hoffa, etc., haha) It isn’t a matter so much of ‘finding’ someone as it is ‘finding out’ about someone. Under the banner of collective security they would monitor everything and everyone, if/when they could/can…

    DEA motto; In God we trust, all others we monitor.

    I understand your point, to a point, because I consider electronic communication to not be very secure.
  21. May 24, 2003 #20
    That link was interesting, Boulderhead, but the intelligence community probably won't get that far into our lives. As it is right now everything you buy with a credit card is databased, as is everything you secure with your health card. Your phone records, employment records, and just about everything you do in life is already recorded and counted by someone, somewhere. The next step appears to be toward a universal identity card which includes everything from your drivers licence to your DNA. In that regard, I would welcome a single identity card. It would sure reduce the thickness of my wallet and make many transactions quicker. And it would make it a much simpler process for catching violent and devious criminals.

    It's not that I believe that every poster is trying to impress the world, but the normal behavior of people everywhere is to be liked for who they are. When people use a psuedonym on forums, no one, or at least very few people, know who they really are. No matter what you call yourself, you aren't going to change who you really are. You can pretend that you do, but that is just role playing in your own mind and can have no effect on the readers of posts because they would have no idea what personality you were trying to change from.

    When you speak of "they" finding out about everyone under the banner of collective security, you seem to be referring to the intelligence community that is part of big government. It is a dreadful prospect to have to fear your own government. The kind of Orwellian surveillance that current governments envision will probably never come about because the kind of governments that we have now are destined for the rubbish bin of history. The kind of people who are in power now all maintained their policies by being able to keep their dealings secret, or at least by being able to keep them secret for a substantial period of time, enough so that the policies they implemented, and the harm they did, was old news by the time the general population found out about them. The advent of international travel and global communication interaction in real time will be the death knell for irresponsible government. The more people know, and the quicker they know it, will not enable the "gangs" that control every government to continue their profiteering and imperialistic policies forever. Eventually, citizenry will require that smart people run government and that just policies based on the value of human rights are implemented. That desire for responsible government was expressed by the fact that for the first time in history protests against an unjust war were formed before the war actually began. There is a whole progressive community grown around the ideals of a just society and you can read about them at the site I will reference below. There are also links to the corporate media and government institutions on this site so that anyone who reads it can get a balanced view of what is really going on in society.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2003
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