Saturday, October 29, 2005

#206 - Anonymity vs. False Identity

Very interesting implosion over at Banner of Heaven. Just scroll through various posts and you'll quickly see what I'm talking about. Apparently several of the regulars were posting as characters they had made up, presumably to add a little "spice" to the discussions over on the Bloggernacle. Many of those regulars are now feeling a need to apologize for allowing the schtick to get out of hand, and perhaps discredit one family in particular.

Actually, I've not kept up much with BoH since joining the LDS ring myself. Every once in awhile someone would surf over here from BoH out of curiosity, but I've never had any steady interest from anywhere in the so-called "Bloggernacle." Truth is, I never should have put the Woundup on their lists because I rarely deal with spiritual matters here, except to complain whenever someone pulls a stunt like "designer scriptures." The Inner Dad deals much more with family and religion, but doesn't get much play time on the Bloggernacle. Go figure.

But my primary purpose for this post was to point out that while I never (or, at least, extremely rarely) use my real name, it's only because there's a difference between anonymity and false identity. The bloggers of Banner of Heaven are finding themselves in the awkward position of having to apologize (or at least explain themselves) for having misled their readers and for giving false impressions of the intent of their blog. I would like to hope that I don't have that problem in either of my blogs.

"Woody" is an old nickname that began more or less while I was on my mission. I also went by the moniker of "Dr. Ply," but that's a story for another day. "Woody" is also the name I was using when Mrs. Woody and I found each other - online - after a protracted absence of fifteen years during which I had been married and divorced. Having become addicted to MOOs and MUDs and their chat-room mentalities, I quickly realized the benefit of using an anonymous identity on the internet.

Now, once upon a time, back in the bad ol' telnet days, I did try a false identity or two. I did it mainly to do a little sleuthing at a time when my life was in tremendous upheaval, and I didn't like what I saw. Rather than allow myself to glory in such nonsense, I abandoned the identities before they did any real harm (as far as I know), and returned to the business of trying to get on with my life.

After Mrs. Woody and I married, our life together quickly became a whirl of newlywed activity and preparation for a new family. There was little time for anything but growing together and dealing with all the day-to-day family matters that always occupy large chunks of our time and thought. When I became aware of blogging as a potential outlet for my creative writing abilities, I quickly jumped in and started pounding away on the keyboard, but with a greater sense of purpose than I ever had when I was MOOing or MUDing.

I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating in the wake of Banner of Heaven's growing pains: Both the Woundup and Inner Dad need to be taken with requisite grains of salt. I would like to think that it's relatively easy to tell when I'm being serious (like now) or when I'm pulling everyone's leg. Sort of. I have two blogs so it becomes easier for me to keep my ranting and complaining separate from my family-oriented writings.

I use the anonymous IDs for the obvious benefit of keeping my real life as private as possible. It's not that I'm hiding anything; regular readers of either blog know how I live. They know enough about me that if they ever met me in real life there would be no surprises. I even use my real photo, for Pete's sake. I just don't want identity thieves to get too much info and give me more trouble than already appears occasionally on my credit cards. Also, I have four children and their lives to consider and protect. With all the predators running loose in our increasingly "progressive" society today, that's a concern I will never violate. My girls will always be "Woodyettes" until the day they are ready to announce themselves to the world in whatever manner they choose. And not until they're old enough to handle it. Mrs. Woody and I can look after ourselves.

I feel for the Banner of Heaven writers. It's an uncomfortable thing to have to apologize like that. I applaud them for doing so, and hope they'll continue to contribute to the discussion. For the record, I never once worried about their opinions, except to occasionally clarify my own position on one or two of the thornier questions that were raised. And I always did so by way of comment on their space...

...anonymously, of course.

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