The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Friday, 2 January 2009

That's Not My Name

This blog is all under my own name. Unlike much of what is posted on the internet, it’s not anonymous, it’s not pseudonymous, it’s not nom-de-plume-enous. It’s all directly attributable to me, for good or for dreadful. But why?

I can understand the temptation to post incognito. It means no repercussions, taking no prisoners, taking no responsibility. It means you can say what you really think, even if it’s not actually true. It means you can call people names.

Not for me. I’m not writing this under my own name because it forces me to be nice – hopefully I don’t need to be forced – but because, unless you’re a Chinese dissident or a cynical BBC producer posting on the Guardian blogs, there’s no good reason for concealing your identity. It’s hypocritical, it’s a license for cowards to bully, and it always raises the question, ‘Who are you, and why are you so scared that others might find out?’

Two examples. There once was a frustrated comedy writer – I can’t remember who – who went on a message board, anonymously slagging off a comedy show. ‘Who wrote this crap?’ was his gist. Except, alas, he wasn’t as anonymous as he thought. Cue a posting from the show’s producer. ‘If you think it’s so crap... then I’m guessing you don’t want to write for it any more...!’

Example two. A badly-written show is getting a critical mauling. Cue several postings from a concerned viewer saying that the criticism has been unfair and that they personally enjoyed the show a great deal. You’ve already guessed the punchline. Yes, it was the show’s writer.

But this has my name attached, so I can never be caught out. And besides, in the unlikely event I write anything worthwhile, I want to take all the credit.

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