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Who Are You? I Really Wanna Know

Updated on August 16, 2013

Internet Identities Can Prevent Communication

The words in the title of this article, from Who Are You? by The Who, go through my head every time I receive a communication, or read an article or Hub, from someone with a secretive handle. Those of us who write on HubPages get to know and communicate with other writers., not just a bunch of article hacks. We not only write articles, we comment on other writers' Hubs. We offer each other praise, advice and constructive criticism. We become friends.

But I've never had a friend named flibbityjibbit283 before. I do now (ok, that one is made up but you get the idea). So when flibbityjibbit283 posts a comment on one of my Hubs I really appreciate his (her?) input, but I don't feel connected to the person as I would if it were Nancy or Phil. Not to be dramatic, but the communication seems to come from some electronic entity, not a real person. On Hubpages, of course, you can go to the effort of clicking on the image for flibbityjibbit283, which will then take you to his (her?) profile, but even then you're not guaranteed that you will see a real name. The photograph submitted may be a golden retriever. So when I respond to the person who posted the comment, do I say, "Can I call you Flib?"

Okay, okay, I was warned. When I signed up for Hubpages I was asked to give a public identity handle. I didn't give it much thought so I chose rfmoran, my Twitter handle. But Twitter displays your real name, if you so choose, right next to your handle, so you see "rfmoran Russ Moran." On Hubpages, on the other hand, all you ever see is the person's handle such as flibbityjibbit283 or rfmoran. Some Hubbers thought it through at the beginning, unlike me, and chose handles that indicate a real name such as sallythewriter, so when I communicate with this person I can take a wild guess that her name is Sally. But I prefer to see wonderful handles such as Angela Blair. She even takes it a step further and signs every communication with her nickname Sis. I feel like I know Sis. I think of her as a friend. If her handle was flibbityjibbit283, I would feel 10 degrees removed.

Do you communicate wearing a mask?


Names Are Important to Us

Any business writer, consultant or coach (not to mention common sense) tells us that a person's name is of vital importance to that person, and that includes you and me. In my writings I have commented on the correct use of the telephone. I always advise, in a business setting, that a person who answers a company phone say something like: "XYZ Corporation, this is Bob, how may I help you?" Zap. The caller suddenly has a connectedness; they're not speaking to a faceless entity, they're speaking to Bob. I also advise that the call taker ask for the caller's first name. Cultural differences can make a big difference here, because in some societies it is considered impolite or even insulting to call a stranger by a first name. So if a caller has an accent, ask for the person's family name. But the point is that the use of someone's name brings us closer; it engenders a relationship not just a communication.

So where am I going with all this? We're stuck with the handle we chose when we joined Hubpages, so I go forth with all of my posts and comments labeling me as rfmoran. My friends call me ARF—only kidding— please don't friggin call me ARF. I am Russ.

Do you prefer see a person's real name (or pen name) rather than a "handle"

See results

Do You Really Want Anonymity?

Some people, perhaps with good reason, do not want their real names attached to their postings. Fair enough. If you fall into this category, then frankly it's none of anyone's business. But I have a hunch that most of us would like to be called by our first name. But even if you choose to be anonymous you can pick an anonymous handle that represents a real name.

Here's a simple fix that Hubpages can execute. Write some code to enable Hubbers, present and future, to choose to have their real name posted next to their Hubpages handle. For those who chose anonymity, they just click "no" or leave the box empty. It's a simple preference. This benefits Hubpages as a corporation, because one of its obvious corporate goals is to engender a community atmosphere among contributors to the site. They want us to be friends, colleagues and polite critics. If they don't get around to it, and they probably won't, consider adding your real name (or a chosen pen name) to your bio.

Many writers put a copyright notice at the bottom of an article. This is a great way to communicate who you are, but it only appears on articles not other forms of communication such as forum posts.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to have a few beers with somebody named flibbityjibbit283.

People have been using names since we lived in caves. Names bring us closer. We even memorize pneumonic devices to help us remember a person's name. Got that flibbityjibbit283?

rfmoran - Russ Moran


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    • rfmoran profile imageAUTHOR

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Thanks for your comments Mike. We New yorkers understand one another. I have absolutely positively no problem if someone wants anonymity - Just provide a useful anonymous nickname. If, as in the example I use in my hub, flibbityjibbit283 called him or herself "Flippy" I'm cool with that. I can relate to Flippy but not to flibbityjibbit283. Thanks again. Russ Moran

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 

      5 years ago from New York City

      Cont- (My bad bro, I had to add this last bit)

      Things online have gotten much more hectic over the years with thieves roaming around everywhere. So trust issues are definitely going to exist even with a real name being used as well, but yeah I agree making a more understandable user name on any networking platform would indeed help relax the mind a bit for sure, for folks who are looking to meet a real person.

      Awesome hub, by the way, it was funny, and I think hubpages may just think about possibility of toggling the anonymity issue and all, and mainly for added privacy options though. Thumbs up and getting shared bro, nice interesting article.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 

      5 years ago from New York City

      Identity theft is a huge issue online, and as for me people can try to steal it if they want LOL. My real name is right beside my Internet personality one here on hubpages, which is known as "Cloud Explorer" as you already know RF.

      I coined the phrase and been using it online a while back while joining hubpages and other networks, because I was a avid explorer of the online clouds, and figured it would be a great fit here online and as a writer today, who enjoys writing about technology from time to time.

      Yes indeed good naming is key to branding online as well, and as for businesses and corporations are concerned for sure.

      The web has evolved though as well, and so has the social interactions and so I agree somewhat with Russel, in that remaining anonymous is imperative at all times for most people who fear inevitable intrusion, and since so much malicious activity is in action at all times.

      The other factor is if I used my real name as my user name more then likely it would have never worked here, because both my first name and last are common names.

      This actually means there are millions of me out here online based on my actual name or as they say keyword. "Mike Pugh" is my name you can check my profile, now if you search on Google you will see millions of results for my name. Even if a internet user places a so-called real name into their profile, that also doesn't mean its them, what if they had stolen someones real name and profile images per say from Facebook or wherever .

      Then what would occur is a much larger issue of duplications, impersonations and the likes that actually goes on there on FB actually today.

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      You are correct Russ. :)

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 

      5 years ago from Southern California


      I understand the point of your hub, and it would have made sense before the Internet, but today anyone that goes online is vulnerable to be used and abused.

      There is no protection on the Internet, not even the government is protected, and they have been hacked many times over the years.

      Today we all lock the doors of our homes, and vehicles. We also have to shred our mail and anything that we put in the trash or recycle bins to protect our identity from being stolen.

      But in addition we have to lock our identities when we are on the Internet. It is a courageous act today to use your real name on the Internet.

      When you open the Internet Kimono it can be used against you as many Facebook users have found out the hard way.

      I think that as long as the government forces us to be identified by a skeleton key, namely the SS Id, we need to protect our privacy.

      I don't write for money, so there is no need to give my SS #. When I went to college my student ID was my SS#.

      Am I paranoid, I will let you know as soon as I figure out the shadow behind me. lol

    • rfmoran profile imageAUTHOR

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      But fortunately you chose a pen name that is recognizeable. I'm guessing your first name is Linda, but even if it isn't I feel like I'm communicating with a real person. Russ

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      I didn't know how seriously I would take HubPages when I signed up, so used a pen name. No regrets here. The writing I do for HubPages is much more casual compared to other articles I write --my pen name seems to fit the conversational tone of my Hubs. Besides, I'm so accustomed to seeing oddball monikers on the site I don't really give it much thought at all.

    • rfmoran profile imageAUTHOR

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      I totally agree Michael. Thanks for your comments. Russ

    • Michael Tully profile image

      Michael Tully 

      5 years ago

      Good points, Russ. Something else that I considered when I chose to use my real name was the credibility of any comments I might want to leave. When I know I can't hide behind an anonymous handle, it gives me added incentive to keep my comments civil and on-topic. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • rfmoran profile imageAUTHOR

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Jennifer Lynch - Now THAT'S what I'm talking about. I wish I gave it more thought when I signed upfor HP. Thanks Jennifer. Russ

    • rfmoran profile imageAUTHOR

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Thanks Bill. At least billybuc gives a strong hint. I think most of us, when we first signed up for HP didn't give much thought to a name that can't be changed. Russ

    • Jennifer Lynch profile image

      Jennifer Lynch 

      5 years ago from Stowmarket, Suffolk.

      I agree with you completely. I am less interested in reading something by someone with a fictional or obviously made up name. To me the connection is important!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I agree completely, Russ! If I could do it over again I would have used my real name for HP; as it is, my name is at the bottom of every hub, and I like it like that. I want people to know me just as I want to know them.


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