Wednesday, 7 May 2008

On Pseudonymity

Forgive me if I derive this post entirely from one by CBI on the subject of identity. He outs himself, with, in his view, good reason. I will not presume to comment on his decision.

I am not outing myself: firstly I do not accept any ethical principle that says you must identify yourself to have a view - very few societies have ever accepted this and we seem to find enough value from Anglo Saxon poetry without whinging about the identities of its writers. Either the writing has interest, or it doesn't. It smacks of a different, controlling impulse to demand that people give you personal information before you consent to read their writings. Of course, it is your right to demand that, just as it the writer's right to refuse. Even in the semi-anarchy of the blogosphere, we still hold to market values. Yay.

Secondly, as might be guessed, I am a raving idiot and I don't especially want everyone in my life to know this. I am happy with some people knowing it (two, to be precise) but everyone else can fuck right off, as a narcissist I want a public space to go on and on about all sorts of crap without anyone saying "ew, I don't think much of your blog..." well tough - fuck off. You're not even going to find out so you can piss right off.

Also, of course, I can swear. I love swearing. It gives me such a sense of futile transgression and belated but wholly stereotypical rebellion.

As a teacher I also have this lovely space where I am not expected to be a socialist. This is a relief beyond belief. I can say "Mrs Thatcher was great" and I don't need to say "THAtcher", spitting the entire contents of my saliva gland onto the grateful listener (it is interesting how people love to see you flobbing the great woman's name). I don't need to make excuses for Jim Callaghan, or go on and on about how wonderful the UK was in 1945, 1950, 1966, etc and how 1979 was in fact the peak of a settled, equal society.

These things are nigh on compulsory in education. It is a myth that private school teachers are less lefty. They just think state schools are for all the other fuckers, not them. I have had some truly bizarre, recursive arguments with colleagues in a private school who would tell me private education was wrong but could not, for the life of them, see what was wrong with their working in the system.

Some of them even lived in private roads. But they thought making any decisions on your children's education was evil.

Anyway. I stay pseudonymous for the final, and most important reason: I like it, it gives me pleasure.

So there.


Crushed said...

To be honest, TD, it was just a pre-emptive strike to avoid having to get involved in litigation.

One of the downsides of anonymity is people can fling all kinds of mud and hope enough sticks- well, in this case, it has been.

Only solution was to run the post for 24 hours, give anyone who felt it like it the chance to grab the information available to them, and find out that lo and behold, yes I have ben the subject of fairly serious defamtion of character for months.

The post is gone now- and jmb showed me a trick to make sure it's gone ffrom any public domain, so only those who read the post know of the outing, but it served it's purpose.

I've saved the comments section, in case I ever need to trot it out.

Yes, I agree with you entirely.

If all bloggers WERE ethical people, then yes, this would be true.

But sadly, there are people who can't treat the boundaries with respect.

Matt M said...

There's a big difference between pseudonymity and anonymity. For me, the former is no different from an actor taking on a stage name. You blog and comment under the same name and so create a consistent presence.

Some of the best bloggers out there do this - Unity, DK, Shuggy, etc. (and, obviously, yourself, CBI and many other BP bloggers).

Anonymity, on the other hand, where people feel no real attachment to the comments they're making is the bane of the blogosphere, as numerous comment threads make painfully clear.

The Tin Drummer said...

CBI:I kind of realised that although I didn't know you had deleted it. I hope it's working out ok. I still think you were pretty brave to out yourself like that.

Matt: I kind of agree but then again I wonder why we make such a fuss when for hundreds of years writers have published pamphlets, crap poetry, soft pornography etc under different names. My point is that the supposedly libertarian blogosphere seems far more controlling than, er, ordinary print media have always been. As far as I am aware the stupid teen-girl novels Larkin published weren't signed "Philip Larkin" and no one really gave a toss when they found out. Yet sock-puppeting on the net seems to be the world's worst ever opinion-crime. When I submit poetry to mags they always ask me what name I want it to go out under and no-one ever makes a moral point of it. It's what writers do, and it's a fundamental freedom to express a view without being compelled to identify yourself.

Whether anyone wants to read it, is, of course, another point entirely.

And, like you, but inconsistently, I skip blog comments from "anonymous" more often than not. Even though I've just allowed them here.

But the only one who's tried to get on here was some stupid spam rant about Jews, so obviously I've rejected it.