Real Names

Anonymous Defender - The Anti-Social MediaI have a friend who has achieved the ultimate personal branding tactic.

Online, he uses a full name. His fans and followers think that is his real name. He has achieved glory and fame through his use of that name.

Except it isn’t his name.

In reality, he uses a completely different last name. It’s a full, complete separation of identity. You’d never know the social media celebrity is the same guy with a tiny LinkedIn presence.

Except now that Google+ requires the use of real names, he feels like he’s fucked.

Google - I get why you want real names. You’re an information whore. You want to know everything about everyone so you can deliver the perfect ad so we buy more things and you get paid to advertise more. But do you really need names to do that accurately?

I get my friend’s pain. He’s spent years building this identity, which is authentic. He doesn’t want his professional life deeply integrated into his hobby. Is that such a bad thing?

There is value in anonymity and secrecy. You can still be social without having to use your real name. Maybe the online world treats each other better using real names, but we lose so much when we demand that identity can only be built in one way.

Real names have real value, but so do screen names. The internet is big enough for both.

What do you think? Why do we need everything tied to our real names? Are we so integrated into the cult of authenticity that we must demand real names, or can we see beyond the name, even if it is xXxGlitterDancerBoi67xXx and into the words and actions of the user?

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12 Responses to “Real Names”

  1. Aaron Axelsson August 23, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    But, why can’t he just make a new Google Account just for Google+?

    That’s what I did for my three other “identities”. :)

    • Jay August 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

      I think he has, but he just doesn’t want to get kicked off if his real name comes to light.

  2. Andy August 23, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    I think having pseudonyms is useful as it can tell you a lot about a person. I know, for example, that I probably can’t talk Hemingway with someone called ‘sxebabez91xxxxlolz’ (a grossly exaggerated example there…)

    • Jay August 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      Look, I get where you’re coming from, but everyone knows that sxebabez91xxxxlolz loves Hemingway and has build his personal brand around his Hemingway expertise. ;)

  3. Morgan August 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    It’s like an author publishing under a pseudonym (in an essence that’s what bloggers are, authors, but you get what I’m saying), there’s nothing wrong with it, they just choose not to use their real name. There are countless of individuals who don’t use their real name. If you think about it, by a woman taking on the mans last name, that isn’t their real name, yet we perceive it as their real name because they’re married.

    Google is just being paranoid.

    • Jay August 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      Or driven by their greed to tie every ad to every individual.

  4. Winnie August 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    It’s not about the authenticity or followers or even names. It’s about the BANK ACCOUNT, which has to be verified. It’s the next step to the “new” PayPal. The new cha-ching.

    • Jay August 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      So true. Google just wants to target the perfect ad to us all the time.

  5. Camilo Olea August 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    What I don’t understand is why nobody makes a fuss about it for Facebook? Facebook has been requiring “real names” since always.

    Or maybe there do are people making a fuss about Facebook too and I just don’t see it because I’m too busy watching cat videos.

    • Jay August 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      See how many people are named Santa Claus on Facebook. Compare to Google+.

  6. Stephanie August 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Um… Google+ is a fad at best I think … Google is a evil empire who must be stopped…

    • Jay August 24, 2011 at 9:05 am #

      Just like Facebook, and Amazon, and Apple, and Microsoft….

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