Identity is far more than a branding buzzword. As a bit of a semiotics nerd, I understand a bit about the creation and use of identity. I will not get technical or buzz-wordy but just talk about some of the process behind how and why I’ve chosen pseudonyms, blogonyms, and nom de plumes over the years.
The primary pseudonym I currently use is Nerthus. It is more a twitter handle than a blogonym. I no longer try to separate myself from any online persona or identity. In this day and age, unless you are engaged in espionage and really know what you are doing, can change IP addresses, hard drives, and other hard and firm ware identifiers whenever you flip from one nom de plume to another, there is no way to assure any likelihood of anonymity. So my first recommendation is: do not use a pseudonym to create an anonymous platform from which to speak.
If you really want to remain anonymous, I recommend analyzing why you want to do so. If you want to slander someone, forget about it. You will be tracked down and are easily prosecuted. If your nom de plume is supposed to keep your family or friends from finding your writing, go ahead, but have your speech ready for when they find out and are shocked or offended. You might even contemplate going public and diffusing this all beforehand.
I have created three personas in the last fifteen years. Cuppakona was an early one. Ana Herzog is my Second Life avatar. Nerthus is my primary twitter identity, and I use it as a blogger account ID.
Cuppakona highlighted something about myself, my love of good coffee, and, I hoped, a playfulness in my use of language.
Virtual world identities I will leave for another time because 3 dimensional representations of self are a whole other ballgame.
I took Nerthus as a blogosphere and twitterverse handle with a good deal of forethought. Nerthus was a proto-Germanic Goddess. The first written records to establish belief in her as a deity was in an account by Tacitus early in the first millennium as a fertility and wetlands goddess. I grew up in what was once a temperate, woodland swamp. I always felt that Mother Earth, should she actually exist, would be a Swamp Goddess. The only swamp goddess I could find reference to was Nerthus.
So there was a feminist aspect of the name coming from a goddess, and the personal connection, for me, with the swamp. Two identity components covered the public and the personal. My given name is Nancy so the overall appearance of the name seems familiar with the capital N.
The uniqueness of the name also appealed to me. My name is boring, it sounds like a pseudonym. Nancy Hill might as well be Jane Doe when it comes to uniqueness and pizazz. And while my name is short, Nerthus is shorter. Shortness is good when it comes to Twitter, and if it is an interesting moniker all the better. Names are important.
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