Alias (Weekend Assignment #276)

This post has nothing to do with one of my favorite TV shows ever (well, the first two seasons of it, anyway).

Karen‘s assignment this week is inspired by Facebook, where her friends list features such “real” names as “Aperson” and “Crazyknight”:

Weekend Assignment: #276: Create an alias for yourself – not one you’re already using or planning to use, but a temporary one for this assignment. Tell us the name you’ve chosen and why, and under what circumstances, real or imaginary, you’d ever use a fake name or identity. If you want to create an entire fake identity for your entry, so much the better!

Extra Credit: Have you ever used a pseudonym anywhere other than online?

I actually use a pseudonym regularly, although technically it’s not a pseudonym. I always give my name as Elizabeth (my middle name) at Starbucks, because spelling out Florinda gets really old. (Actually, it’s spelled like it sounds and it sounds like it’s spelled, but still, people have always had trouble with it…maybe that’s more because it’s unusual than because it’s a difficult name, but I’ve never known for sure.) I’ve used screen names in a few online forums in the past, but during the last few years, I’ve almost always been online under my real name. I never intended to blog under a pseudonym, because if I ever want it to lead to anything, it all has to come together as part of the body of my written work.

I think online life actually makes using a false identity more complicated, because it’s easier to be unmasked than it was in the pre-Internet days, and I think it’s viewed with more suspicion now.

But having said all that, let me introduce you to Heather Brooke. Heather has lived her entire life in the area around Atlanta, Georgia, except for the five years she spent up north for college – and which convinced her without a doubt that she’ll always be a Southern girl. She was introduced to her husband Steve when they were both participants in a mutual friend’s wedding. They have a son, a daughter (both school-age), and a black-and-brown mixed-breed dog named Fred. Heather works part-time at the public library and volunteers in her kids’ school library – she loves spending time around books, but rarely finds herself with time to read for fun. Since she’s at the school so much, she knows most of the teachers pretty well and has become the go-to person for inside information about them for other parents. Other than that, her social life mostly involves her extended family and a neighborhood gardening group.

I’ve always liked the names “Heather” and “Brooke,” and neither of them fits me very well as myself, but I’d try them on if I were going to try being someone different for a little while. It’s hard for me to see myself carrying off any sort of false identity for any length of time, though, to be honest. However, I can see some usefulness in using one in a social situation where you’re pretty sure you’re only going to be around this particular group of people once – who’ll know if you’re being honest or not, and if you’ll never see them again anyway, why not be someone else for a few hours? However, unless you have successfully cultivated a different online identity already, it would be counter-productive to try being someone other than yourself at an event like a blogging conference.

If you have an alias or pseudonym other than your online name – or if your online name is a pseudonym but no one realizes it – I invite you to unmask in the comments!

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  1. This is a great question and yet I sit here this mornign searching for something brilliant to say and I am blank. Haven't had the coffee yet… that may be it.
    I have on occasion used a different name but they were random. For instance, years ago when my girlfriends and I would go out in another town like on a weekend get away, we would choose random names off of songs we heard on the radio and that was our name for the weekend.
    It was a lot of fun but no real meaning behind it. If I ever write, and I hope I do, I have names for characters that have been in my head for years.

  2. I use a pseudonym online, but that's pretty obvious. Mostly I use it so that my blogging isn't connected to my full-time work if my boss or clients google me. (and to avoid internet stalkers, of course!)

  3. No alias for me, but I had the chance to shed my last name — Pekkanen – when I married a guy named Reynolds. I chose to keep it, and I'm glad I did! Even though, like your first name, it's difficult to spell and people always ask about it, I love it that I don't share my name with many people (at least in the U.S.; it's quite common in Finland!)
    Sarah Pekkanen

  4. Excellent job with Heater's profile, and you make some good points about the utility (or lack thereof) of an alias. Thanks also for confirming that your first name is indeed pronounced the way it's always sounded in my head!

  5. Sorry for the delay in responding to these comments, y'all – Internet connectivity was inconsistent at the conference, so I saved replies till after I got home.

    Sheila – I've had friends who did that kind of thing with the temporary pseudonym. I think it could be fun.

    TexasRed – Oooh, but I know your real name now :-)! It was great to meet and hang out with you at BlogHer'09!

    Jill (Softdrink) – I have to stop at just the two names for you – what Care came up with is just too long :-)!

    Sarah – I actually did change my last name when I got married the first time for a similar reason. (And since I kept that married name, I had to add the second husband's last name to it!)

    Karen – Thanks. I wasn't sure I'd go all the way with creating a character, but it was fun!