One final one before I go watch some funny moving pictures : Graham says

I came to the conclusion, which I believe is a fairly rare one, that I don’t like being anonymous. That writing under a pseudonym (or no nym at all) feels more stifling than the responsibility that comes with openness. That I am willing to accept the fact that my students, yea, even my colleagues may eventually find this place. I’m counting on the fact that most of them won’t care. I understand that for every academic blogger who gets tenure, there will be many, academics and non-, who get dooced.

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 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.

Me|dia, Metablogging, Uncrappy

Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. But there’s only one Wonderchicken.
    Saints presarve us, thank the ‘net that it’s so. For good or ill, there’s only one Graham Leuschke on the planet too. If we were John Smiths, regardless of who owned the (coveted, I presume) domain, we could all partake of the anonymity of the anthill, where our indistinguishability would protect us from repercussions. It takes a strong spirit to be the only chicken on the web.

  2. But what about being the number two Google spot for your first name? That’s gotta be worth money in the bank, dammit!
    [Looks in bank account. Notes absence of Google-derived loot.]

  3. I didn’t mean to imply that use of the John Smith (or any other real name) automatically blurs one into an anonymous mass, honest. I meant that use of a pseudonym doesn’t either, and can be a positive act of play rather than a negative one of concealment…

  4. I always just figured it made searching easier. . . . .

  5. wonder chicken
    try that again

  6. Nope. Dunno who that is.
    You can look at any of my headswap photoshops in the galleries to see what my grizzled mug looks like…
    Why did you think that was me?

  7. Isn’t that Lance Bass of NSync? The one who’s trying to be the next space tourist?

  8. wrong link… i was going to comment on the n’sync kid on my site and used the wrong link here.
    right link to the wonder chicken

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