While I fully understand where another content producer is coming from with their article about the positive reasons for using a pseudonym when writing professionally, I find it rather ridiculous to use online, such as on forums, chat rooms, or even AC.
First of all, online is full of real people. The average Joe, like me and most of the content producers on AC, is not really a professional writer. There is little reason to use a fake name online. The only two reasons I can think of are the person either says things online that they normally would not say in real life or they have had an online stalker in the past and are now afraid for it to recur.
I believe that the number one reason online users use pseudonym is to hide behind a false name. They feel safe and will more freely say things they normally would not say in real life. My motto is “if you would not say it in real life, don’t say it online.” I speak my mind in real life just as much as I do online.
One time I gave a pretty positive review of a movie, “Satan’s Little Helper,” but put in a note that the movie’s PR department did not respond to my screener request. The director read it and ignored the positive review but focused on the part about the screener. He took it public to a horror forum and he bashed me and my horror site. I argued back and he said that I would not say what I said online to his face. Uh, yes I would. Well, unless he turns out to be a six foot five inch tall Hell’s Angels biker member. In that case, discretion is the better part of valor and I would use the pseudonym Weel Reel Phast.
As I said, if you would not say it in real life, don’t say it online. I would say it in real life, so I DO say it online. What would the director do if I said it to his face? Hit me? He would be sued for what meager profits he earned off his last five low-budget films. It’s a win-win situation. But, alas, he wouldn’t hit me. So what would I fear, his words?
The other issue is if you are trying to build a good and consistent name for yourself online. In this situation, you would want to give an accurate and honest portrayal of yourself. Using a pseudonym, especially one that does not even remotely resemble a real name, greatly decreases your creditability to everyone who reads it, unless they already know you. If they know you, it’s okay. If they don’t know you, they might think your name is a joke and not take anything you write seriously.
I mean who will take a person named JokerInTheBox69 or ICP420 seriously? I know I would not. I’d think they were immature teenagers just goofing off and not read much of their work.
Going another direction on the credibility issue, how would you feel to use a goofy online name in a serious situation? “Hi, I’m BloodSucker666 and I’m inquiring about obtaining your law service.” The lawyer would probably toss your e-mail out, thinking it nothing but a prank. I would toss it too or make a joked of it. I, for one, would feel rather silly to use a pseudonym for most any situation.
A funny situation just came to mind. I used to know a girl who sent me an audio recording of one of her “sessions” with her “friend,” who used the handle “Neo” (he was a Matrix nut). I won’t go into details but needless to say, I kept bursting out laughing every time I heard her say “Oh Neo!” That is one case in which pseudonyms are ridiculous.
Another funny situation is a real life meeting of a group of online friends. Most are so used to online handles that they barely remember each other’s real names. So, instead of yelling, “Hey Joe, Bob, and Sue, it’s me, Joanna!” she yells, “Hey GrandpaSmurf75, Adonis2000, and Puffpuff23, it’s me, She-Ra!” What makes it worse is when they all turn out to be near 60 years old! How wrong is that? A 60 year old She-Ra with varicose stockings and a 58 year old Adonis2000 with a potbelly and bald. That’s like senior citizen phone sex operators. Oh, the nightmares! Not that I’d ever pay for that type of thing. I swear I didn’t!
I know, online handles and phone sex operators named Candy are not the same as online publishing pseudonyms but, even more so, they need to be taken seriously. I won’t use them unless I become a net celebrity, like Tila Tequila. Of course, I’ll use the manlier Jordan Bourbon, Jeffrey Whiskey, or Johnny on the Beach.
Anyway, the whole point of what I’m saying is that most online pseudonyms are ridiculous in serious situations. Unless you are a REAL writer and not just a wannabe, don’t use pseudonyms. They will make you look silly, like a teenager with a breakout of acne trying to use a fake ID at a strip club.
Peace out, John Gugie AKA JohnnyDepp21JumpSt AKA BushIsMyHero!