Friday, April 07, 2006

If You Could Be Anyone...

One of the attractions of the internet is the anonymity: we all expect Bigdong Bloodaxe to be a weedy, bespectacled 14 year old. A simple act of wish fufilment akin to Master Derek recounting his sexual exploits with his harem of lovers, all of whom have identical prose styles.
Sometimes people change their ISP, and instead of reregistering everywhere as Gladys they become Penelope, and make a fresh start. Certainly if you're recounting using crack and heroin it's wiser not to give your real name and address.
If you're playing an RPG the whole point is to create a persona, be it Everquest or Second Life. But using a pseudonym always involves to some extent creating a persona. If someone discusses Dr Who signing themselves 'Adric' their cumulative posts create a sort of identity, and an expectation. If the person who was Adric changes their mind, and decides that the best Dr Who actor wasn't Peter Davison after all, but Colin Baker, Adric might become 'Mel'.
And, of course, there's banning. If 'KarlMarx' is banned from a forum, it's very easy for 'Groucho' to sign up a couple of days later and express similar views.
Who, for example, would wish to adopt the persona of a middle aged man with a dodgy spleen, questionable pancreas and the lower digestive tract from Hell, along with the libido of a giant panda and a love courgette which fully unfurls once a decade or so? Obviously a hip and trendy chap in his early thirties who shags his way through the babes of Notting Hill like a rabbit on Viagra. Obviously.
Now bearing in mind that one could claim to be absolutely anybody I recently encountered the most magnificently bathetic claim imaginable...
"I'm not really a single loony: I am (wait for it) a group of Media Studies students and I'll (Sorry we, there's lots of us really, honest) write an essay about you!" Scary! Dicky is all a-quiver. Honestly, if you're going to pretend to be anybody, why on earth Media Studies Students? It's like, "yeah, I've got a really glamorous job, it's er, roadsweeper.

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