Ever since someone who went by the name of "my black ass" (complete with associated animated gif) pointed out that my alias on Last.fm "loubrown" wasn't too inventive, I've been wondering about the relative strengths of having an online pseudonym and the relative weakness of having my identity so clearly strewn across the internet superhighways.
I "came out" in terms of my online persona in response to a lot of soul searching about the fact I worked for a new media department and so might have vested interests or biased opinions that I should be open about.
It wasn't like I was planning some Belle de Jour type revelations (those were the days my friend) or a grand whistle blowing (over a year in, and no evidence of a need for it), but I didn't fancy sneaking around wondering if people knew who I was or could work it out. OK, so I also realised I was less likely to write anything too offensive or incriminating (small lapse in judgment notwithstanding).
However, I now find myself actually embarassed by how much I'm shouting my real name from the virtual rooftops especially as numerous colleagues are now coming out as bloggers and social networkers under various guises. It's a bit like my user names are ALL CAPS and spoken v-e-r-y d-e-l-i-b-e-r-a-t-e-l-y. Loubrown, louby, louisebrown... Yes that's me! Yoo-hoo! Here I am!
There is something so much cooler about having a pseudonym. It's like being the Scarlet Pimpernel or Superman; only a select few know the real you, and everyone else is dying to find out.
My time-suckingly dreadful forays into Second Life as "Thora Turk" (you are forced to choose a first and last name for your character) gave me a flavour of what it might be like to have a pseudonym and associated virtual image. Unfortunately my poor Second Life programming skills meant that rather than the Lara Croft-like Amazon astride the virtual world of my fantasies, Thora/I ended up as a plumpish Japanese schoolgirl with quite big boobs and a ragged, slightly gothic wardrobe and a tendency to accidentally end up sitting on top of road signs.
I blame age. I come from the days of the Internet when to get your real name in hotmail was to have kudos. I leapt at the chance to get a (on my terms) cool gmail address but soon found out the downside having since been saddled with a stream of incorrectly addressed email meant for my numerous dopplegangers (one of them having issues with insurance, another a big skiing fan). If you've sent anything dreadfully personal to me that I haven't responded to, watch out, you might end up in The Metro if the email was incorrectly addressed.
I now have the additional worry that I'll end up giving away enough information here to steal my identity without having to rifle through my bin or glue together my shredded bank statements. There are photos, reading materials, bound to be a biography up there somewhere. People should realise that the idea of your porn name (Name of first pet + Mother's maiden name) was probably cooked up by a really smart identity thief ("How on earth can I get people to reveal the answers to their security questions?).
In fact, my only comfort is that, rather like the owner of a rashly requested tattoo, the likes of "my black ass" will wake up one of these days to find himself saddled with a once-cool but now plain embarassing pseudonym that it's just too hard to change. In the meantime, I'll just have to relax back into my relative lack of obscurity.