I’ve written about blogging anonymously (under a pen name) in the past, both here at the BlogWorld blog and on the Wright Creativity blog. I’ve made it no secret that I write and manage a fairly successful blog under a different name, and I think there are great reasons for doing so (though it is definitely not the right choice for everyone).
Today, Google announced that they’d now be allowing both nicknames and pseudonyms on Google+. This makes it much easier for anonymous bloggers to use the network, which will definitely be an advantage for Google as it continue to try to attract more users. But is it doing any favors for the Internet as a whole? Will this encourage the use of pseydonyms – and is that a good thing?
Critics had told me that they feel my pen name allows a certain level of dishonesty. Because I’m not writing under my real name, I’m not as accountable for what I write on my blog, and it also makes it easier for me to deceive people.
These things are true. Blogging under a pen name is powerful, and with great power comes great responsibility.
But I would argue that, online, it’s possible to deceive people whether you use your real name or not. I don’t believe that anonymous blogging makes a blogger more likely to be dishonest, but I do believe that some people find it easier to create better content if they are able to use a pen name – and that’s a good thing for our community of content creators.
Having more opinions or ideas is rarely a bad thing, but if people aren’t allowed to anonymously express those opinions or share those ideas, they’ll often remain silent. Depending on the topic, blogging can jeopardize your job or reflect poorly on your family and friends. A pen name allows your to write without the worry that you’ll be judged. This freedom can be liberating.
Some people abuse this power and use a pseudonym to be nasty to others, share confidential information, or do other unsavory things. Don’t allow these people to form your opinion of anonymous bloggers. There are bad apples in every bunch. Most of the bloggers who write under names other than their real ones simply don’t want to be defined by a single piece of content during their daily lives. The freedom of being able to use a pen name allows us to create better content on Google+ and in general.
I believe that Google+’s decision to allow nicknames and pseudonyms is good for the online community. What do you think?