One final one before I go watch some funny moving pictures : Graham says
Warning : Shameless narcissism ahead!
These are thoughts that have crossed my tiny feather-capped mind more than once, and I have elected to go in the other direction – towards some degree of anonymity in my ramblings and rantings here. I realize, of course, that anyone with even moderately advanced search skills could dig up my real name, and fairly convincingly tie it to the pseudonym I use here, if they wanted to.
‘Anonymity’ is probably the correct word to use, technically speaking. Many of the folks who come here frequently probably don’t know my name. Most don’t care, I’m sure. As far as they are concerned I am mercifully free of an onyma. I am aware that the use of a pseudonym so flippant and fanciful predisposes many to expect me at all times to be similarly flippant and fanciful, in much the same way that my choice of domain names arouses expectations of what may be found here, and encourages attitudes towards myself and my words that differ with the reader. Not all of these preconceptions are positive, this is certain.
But it’s all good. It adds a level of metaplay to the whole thing that amuses me – I think it’s much more fun to use the opportunity bust up those mental Markov chains a bit. I derive some pleasure from anticipating and feeding the expectations that some people must no doubt have at the prospect of reading the words of someone who calls himself stavrosthewonderchicken and who puts his writing and pixelling up at a place called Empty Bottle, and then gently, with a grin, confounding them. Such opportunities would not arise if you, dear reader, had typed in http://www.johnsmith.org to get here, and if posted by John Smith were appended to each post. If that were the case, you’d have no real idea what to expect, I don’t think, other than perhaps an intimation that you might be looking at calm seas ahead.
Note that my real name is not John Smith. Or Markov Chaney, for that matter.
But all this is really an aside to my main reaction to what Graham was saying, which is this : I don’t really feel that I am at all anonymous, despite the fact that I use a pseudonym here for fear of repercussions from my employers. On the contrary, I get the feeling that there are quite possibly more people around the world who recognize the (hopefully memorable) silly name I’ve adopted here and at Metafilter than there are people who know me by my real name. There are many who know me by both, and that’s fine too.
It’s certainly possible that I am taken less seriously as a result of my pseudonymity, but it’s also possible that more people remember who I am, and identify with or enjoy in some meaningful way the persona I’ve created here, which bears if not a 1-1 correspondance, at least a very significant resemblance to my Self. I am, as are all of you, much more than my words and links and photoshop jobs could ever really capture, and I think it would signal a descent into madness if I began to try to express the Whole Story of Me here in these pixels and bits. Better for me, I think, to filter the large and rather incoherent Me through the pleasantly warped lens of my alter ego. I’m cool with that.
There are a multitude of John Smiths, some more memorable than others. But there’s only one Wonderchicken.