Monday, July 05, 2010

Why I Won't Use My Real Name on the Internet

In the current landscape of the Internet, social networking is huge be it Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Classmates, Linked, etc. Most people who frequent the social networking sites or utilize their services/benefits use their real name. After all, these sites/services help you to find lost friends/relatives/classmates, find jobs, etc. It is in your best interest to use your real name.

With that said, however, there are a few reasons why I don't use my real name on the 'Net. It doesn't matter if it's a martial arts forum, a self-defense forum, or a social networking site.

First, not many people on the 'Net know me by my real name. Most know me by my nickname of "Stickgrappler". Perhaps it's like the chicken or the egg... if I started off using my real name then most people would know me by that over my nickname. Regardless, if I had to do it all over again, I would still go by a nick instead of my real name. It's not like I'm out to troll or anything like that which is one of the reasons why people use a nickname.

Second, the Internet works in mysterious ways. The depths of cyberspace has yet to be determined, and it has ways to "remember" things. You may post something on some forum in 1999 and forgotten about it. Years later, that post may resurface to haunt you. Perhaps you badmouthed an instructor or a forum member. Someone with even whitebelt "Google-Fu" skills will find you via that post.

Speaking about Google... search engines like Google are so powerful and fast, for a searcher who is persistent and creative, finding information on you will be easy enough. Also, Google and some other organizations are out to archive the whole Internet since the beginning! Who knows what they have archived?!

A few months ago, there was some news on Facebook setting the default setting of sending your real name and friends to marketers and you had to go into the settings and manually choose not to allow that. What you thought was private only to you and your friends with a flip of the switch essentially became public info. For the record, I'm "Stick Grappler" on Facebook, although I've not been on it for over 6 months. Too busy to get caught up in the Facebook Friend-zy.

Last but not least, and probably the most important for me: I do not want my previous, present and future employers googling my real name and finding out my likes/dislikes, hobbies, religious and/or political views, etc. It's a double-edged sword. Depending on the situation, having your real name on the Internet can be a boon or it can be a hindrance. Think of it this way: if you used your real name, and you made some snide remark many years ago on what you thought was an obscure small forum, it may come back to haunt you. Perhaps you were applying for a job and your prospective employer googles you and from your postings from years ago, determine you will not be a good fit in the company. Perhaps your current employer finds your Facebook page... your forum postings and noting the times of posting were during work hours... I'm sure you get where I'm going with this. In my opinion, if you have no vested interest in promoting yourself, there is no real need to use your real name.

Bottom line: I am not an instructor looking for students. I am not trying to sell you anything via my site. I am leery of my employers (past, present and future) of being able to find info about me from the depths of cyberspace. I will generally not use my real name over the Internet.

Will you?



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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps