The publishing world has a long history of authors using pseudonyms for various reasons, some of which fit into a modern context and some which were products of their time. For example, in the years prior to Women's Suffrage, it was common for female authors to publish under a male pseudonym. Although this isn't the case today, there are still plenty of good reasons why one would want to use an alias when publishing on the web.
Certainly the medium of the web is a completely different phenomenon from the printed page. Everything from the process of how articles are written, to the format of the content, to the expectations of the readers, it is completely different. Blog posts are shorter, use titles and headers to greater effect, have a self-referential aspect in their research, and are often written by amateur writers. The level of transparency and feedback on the web wasn't possible with the old technologies, and it open up a whole new dimension to the whole thing.
One must also take into account the inherent anonymity of the web. Nowhere is this more apparent than in online forums and blogs where comments can quickly degrade into an immature argument. A new lexicon has emerged to describe these types of actions, such as flame wars and trolling. It's no wonder that so many people feel a need to disconnect their online personas from their personal lives.
What follows is a list of some of the pros and cons of using an alias for your online persona. Please feel free to share your own thoughts in our comments section, but no trolling please!
Pros of Using an Online Alias and Persona
- Allows for a greater amount of separation between your personal and online life.
- Gives you a sense of privacy, something that is becoming a bit of a commodity these days.
- No need to worry about bosses and other work colleagues finding your work online.
- You can create an online persona that is quite different from your real world self.
- You can create multiple personas to cover different niche topics without having them interfere with each other.
- Less of a need to worry about stalkers and other creeps butting into your offline life.
Cons of Using an Online Alias and Persona
- If you're looking to become a professional writer it can devalue your work.
- Obviously fake pseudonyms can instantly stereotype you, which itself has both pros and cons.
- Constantly working through a persona can add stress to your life, especially if it becomes popular and you then outgrow it.
- It can be awkward to either reveal your real name if you do happen to meet an internet buddy offline, or if someone that knows you accidentally lets your real name slip out in a comment.
An online alias and persona can be used to hide sinister objectives, which can end up damaging your offline reputation or even landing you in legal trouble.