Who Are You? I Really Wanna Know
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"
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