Monday, July 2, 2012

Week 7, part 1: True Names

Thank God.

Two women bloggers, both with very young daughters. One blogs about her daughter, for her daughter, because she wants her daughter to have this story, her story. The other says nothing. Until her daughter is old enough to decide for herself what she wants her story to be, she will say nothing.


I have a friend who gives new, generic names, to people on her blog. The Boy, or Babysister. She says that she doesn't want their names used where they can't see or respond.


A long time ago, I decided to use names. The logic went something like this: there are two levels of people in the world, those who know me IRL, and if I talk about an M. who lives with me, they know what M stands for, they know who he is and what he looks like and he has exactly the same privacy, in regards to them, as he would if I used his full name. The other kind of people only know me via the internet, and wouldn't be able to pick out my lover from a lineup, whether they knew his name, or not. And knowing his first name wouldn't give them any more ability to make a connection between his existence as a character in my blog and his existence as a person in real life. It's not like one can google "Mike" and get anything useful. So it seemed to me that there was no practical advantage to using an initial. It felt coy, as if I were pretending to do more than I was really doing, as if I wanted to appear mysterious more than I wanted to actually preserve anyone's privacy. This logic, of course, only works for ubiquitous names. If I were, amazingly, friends with Englebert Humperdink, calling him Englebert would be pretty much the same as linking to his Facebook page, if he were my friend and had a Facebook page.

I have never thought of this space as a factual kind of space. I have never thought it was a place anyone would expect to find fair or accurate information. I have always assumed that people know that I am talking about how I feel, which is often unreliable and irrational, and that as a narrator I can't be trusted. When I'm ranting about the Snobs in Ballroom Dance, I'm cherrypicking anecdotes that feed my rant, not trying to make an honest assessment of their flaws and strengths. It's a rant. On a blog. A blog that isn't about anything, except being about me. And often, it's because my thoughts are irrational or my rant is unfair that I post it here, because I don't really mean it, the demons are strictly in my head, they are not real people, because the real people are not demons. If I meant it, I might say it for real. Since I don't mean it, not really, or I mean it, but the people I'm talking to aren't real, it goes here instead.

Since what I am presenting is not fact, it is skewed, it is prejudiced, it is what I was thinking at the time, it seems prudent to not mislead any readers into making conclusions about real people. Making conclusions about characters, about the imaginary people in my headspace shouldn't lead to making conclusions about the people they are a response to. I want to muddy the link between this space and physical space.

Words spoken in anger might be quickly rescinded.  They might not be an honest view of someone's true thoughts.  I want to be able to engage with the ideas without engaging the speaker, because it doesn't really matter who believes them, or doesn't, anymore, I am not trying to change the mind of a specific person, I am turning the ideas over and considering what my response is and why.

So I am reconsidering my policy regarding names and this blog. I have already given you a few initials recently, in place of names, since I'm discussing my family, and you already have access to their last names (or, at least, given your access to my last name, you have a pretty good chance of guessing their last names). And I am wondering if the reason I dislike using pseudonyms so much is the reason I should use them. If names matter, if they have any power in the world, then maybe this space is a poor place to use that power.

1 comment:

Diatryma said...

I have met people who know famous people and use typo-pseudonyms so if you think about it, oh hey, famous author, but if you don't have that context, it's just a regular person. They separate the onstage Author from the Writer sitting in their living room playing with the kids.