The Benefits of Writing Pseudonymously

Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

We mostly understand a pseudonym as a name that is used fictitiously by an author to conceal their identity.

Writing pseudonymously is purportedly the future of the internet. As a matter of fact, it is already a growing norm as more and more people are realizing the advantage it presents.

The influence of pseudonymity is rising as many social actors and brands are raising concerns of the need for privacy, and freedom of speech. Unfortunately, the words of Yakov Smimoff that, “in soviet Russia we too have freedom of speech, but in America you have freedom after speech” are actually playing out in most countries. As a result, most people can’t candidly express their views without suffering from some sort of attack.

A pseudonym allows you to ‘be yourself’ and affords you the opportunity to discuss issues without the fear of reputational damage.

The people that choose to use pseudonyms do so to protect themselves against abuse, stalking, while others such as transgender or ‘adult’ entertainers use them because their identities or practices would otherwise be marginalized.

As more disquietude surrounds online real-name environments, many people are finding liberation in pseudonymous writing. Most people have already had their past come back to haunt them, with life-changing and career ending consequences. Without the fear of upsetting your boss, or your government, the need to discuss truth or facts takes centre stage and raises the quality of discussions.

Although they might still be subject to hate speech, trolling and other gruesome behaviour that’s common with internet usage, their personage is still less affected.

The other benefit is that if one’s platform is sabotaged or stands a high risk of being done so, they can resurrect through a pseudonym and continue to voice and publish the truth without fear of harassment. Their readers are thus unable to go ad hominem and criticize the writer’s identity instead of their ideas.

The allure of mystery is a tailwind for pseudonymity, and for their own particular reasons, many people wish they had began writing pseudonymously even earlier. Consider this tweet;

Pseudonymity can also be a cover for perpetrating abuse, bullying, and harassment partially due to the perpetrator’s lack of accountability. Internet users commonly misbehave by catfishing, trolling and propagating hate speech through the deception of a pseudonym. Such individuals are thus able to avoid rebuke and scorn from those who might deem their conduct to be socially unacceptable.

Already some online platforms like Twitter, Quora, and Reddit have given their audience a platform to pursue unpopular ideas by allow individuals to post content pseudonymously, while tentatively putting regulatory measures regarding decency, trolling, alienation, or any misuse.

The regulation of pseudonymous use of the internet, especially on social media, should hinge on the benefits to society, or the individual’s audience, and whether what they share are facts, notwithstanding the harmless usage of platforms for humour, or other okay behaviour.

How private can one’s identity be?
It’s quite difficult to remain anonymous on the internet today as every piece of data is relentlessly tracked by data vendors. Depending on how users created their accounts, or how they use them, they may not be anonymous to these companies or who they share their data with.

Personal information that is submitted through signing up and usage of these apps by the users makes the anonymity provided by companies limited, conditional, and subject to security attacks. Perhaps the anonymity offered by these companies should be reframed as pseudonymity.

If one has a reason to hide their primary identity, or be anonymous, then their email and phone number used to create their pseudonymous account, have to be untraceable as well. Here is a guide to do so.

For such a user, a lot of care is to be taken regarding the anonymous usage of the pseudonymous account. Every day government backed researchers, hackers, or the FBI itself are constantly looking to uncover who is behind a particular account, if they have reason to.

The bitcoin founder billionaire Satoshi Nakamoto was able to create decentralization doubly, first through his pseudonymity and also by creating the cryptocurrency — bitcoin, through the publication of the Bitcoin White Paper in 2008. With Satoshi’s true identity still unknown, his ideas have transcended his credentials and identity, and that’s the core concept of pseudonymity.

The Future of Pseudonymity
One of the futuristic thinkers, Balaji Srinivasan , portends that pseudonymity is the future of the internet, something he calls the pseudonymous economy.

Here’s Balaji talking about the pseudonymous economy:

He notes that people will have to separate their online identity from their earning identity to prevent their ideologies from compromising their income opportunities.

Moreover, having a pseudonymous identity doesn’t hinder one’s chances of making friends or earning a living. Direct messages, phone calls and emails are tools that can still be used to meet new people and the present possibility of virtually participating on public dialogues to discuss one’s views. Notice in the video above that Balaji talks about the concept of having an earning name.

In fact, one can later convert their online following, gathered pseudonymously, to their real-name account if they so choose.

Pseudonymity is highly likely to remain popular with social media users and qualitative researchers for many years to come.

Reference

  • Social Media Pseudonymity: Affordances, Practices, Disruptions — Emily van der Nagel

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Stephen Mwesigye

Stephen Mwesigye

Sharing insights on personal growth, intentional living, and kaizen. I’m contributing to make the world better; I think writing is a fun way to do it. 😊