Like almost everybody else on the blogosphere, we have chosen to hide our true identities from the rest of the world. Despite whatever issues we may have had with our parents, they were not cruel enough to give us the names we now write and draw under (they did, however, give us long and more cruel Catholic names.) We actually chose these aliases. Why do we do it? It’s funny you should ask, Blog Awards Challenge and random readers. Funny in the sense that it is timely because we are about to answer the question and not funny as in slipping on a banana peel.
Why would a grown man choose to hide behind an obscure reference to Philippine mythology or a punny take on a stock Filipino folklore character?
1. It’s traditional
Except on official documents, Filipino naming convention has never been about what your parents gave you at your baptism. In the centuries of Spanish occupation, all our heroes had code names to protect them from retaliation and to sound cooler than they already were. It was pretty much a requirement to choose a code name back in the day since the Katipunan was an underground organization and it wouldn’t do to tell your comrades that you were actually Benedict Aquino and that you lived on 1313 Calle Iris and that you were an optometrist by trade when not plotting to overthrow the monarchic hegemony of Spain. It would have been rude. Sure, some of the aliases, like Del Pilar’s Plaridel were uninspired at best, but we were at war and they weren’t giving out medals for extreme wordplay above and beyond the call of duty, only for general badassery. Being true sons of the people, we are merely following in their footsteps.
2. Plausible deniability
Let’s face it. We can’t always stand behind what we write. Whether it’s a negative review of, say, the Sib Show, or war stories of a wild weekend involving triplet cheerleaders, there are some things that we don’t want to come back to bite us in the ass while innocently buying groceries in meatspace. Whether it’s your mom, your girlfriend or Sib himself, it’s always more comfortable to have a buffer and enough wiggle room to say, “it wasn’t me.”
Blogger and better writer than half of the blogosphere combined Paolo Manalo calls it the online persona, distinct from the real-world persona and native to the dynamic world of the Internet. My ex-girlfriend called it my crazy internet world and left me. It takes all kinds, really.
3. It lets the work stand for itself
If people knew that I was award-winning author F. Sionil Jose in real life, they would only see an award-winning writer taking a stab at a medium that he is not best known for being a master of. They would say, “Huh. What is F. Sionil Jose up to this time? Isn’t he content with what he’s already accomplished that he has to flounder about the blogosphere like a noob? LOL, etcetera etcetera”
They wouldn’t see the many levels of satire and kick-assery that I am attempting, those Philistines. Of course, there would be people who’ll go, “Oh, it all makes sense now. He’s secretly F. Sionil Jose. How clever!” But the point is that it shouldn’t matter whether or not I am secretly F. Sionil Jose, noted writer of such hits as the entire Rosales saga . I am pouring forth words that should be able to stand on their own, and not on my previous accolades, or they ought to not stand at all.
4. It is the nature of the beast
By beast, we mean the Internet. Listen, the Internet doesn’t exist except in our crazy internet world. Despite what Geocities taught us in 1997 when we had to look for Internet “lots” in themed “neighborhoods,” the Internet is nothing more than pixels and bytes and a little bit of magic mixed with some hard liquor.
To quote Mentor, yet another throwback to the bald old days of the Internet, “this is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud… We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias…” He’s probably pretty old now, so it’s not his world anymore, either. But the point is with everything just representations of things, we can pretty much be anyone we want to be. This is also true in the real world, of course, but that requires actual work. Do you want to be a dinosaur? Alright, then. Never mind that dinosaurs cannot type nor even read, the magic of the Internet says that you are a dinosaur who can.
There are so many layers to a person that it is often pointless to reveal your real name online. It often doesn’t add anything to the discussion, and might get you saddled with an embarrassing nickname, just like in real life. Using an online persona lets you play around with who you are while still being grounded in reality.
“This is our entry to the Blog Awards Challenge No. 3: The Hazards Of Honesty“