Bruce Charlton points us to Francis Berger's blog, and a decision to no long read blogs, Christian or otherwise, written pseudonymously.
This brings me to the more general topic of pseudonyms, fake names, aliases, anonymity and the like. Although I respect medieval artists who purposefully chose anonymity as a way of glorifying God, the contemporary use of anonymity and aliases by artists, writers, and bloggers troubles me. I am not referring to individuals who use aliases but whose real names are publicly known, but to those secretive writers, thinkers, and bloggers who hide their authentic identities under noms de plume.
Of course, I understand the reasons why writers and bloggers use false names; many of them may hail from the academic world or some other vulnerable sector in which they cannot openly express their views for fear of censor, or even peril to their jobs. Yet, I cannot help but pause for a moment and wonder why writers and bloggers bother making their views public if they lack the courage or the means to stand by their words. This applies especially to writers and bloggers who express anti-liberal, anti-leftist, and Christian views in their work. Perhaps I am being too harsh with this criticism and perhaps it is not my place to judge, but I believe this refusal to identify with these expressed ideas essentially reveals an immense failure of character and moral courage.
Put simply, those who rail against the evils of our modern world and make attempts to offer hope and guidance but refuse to put their names to their ideas are cowards. In my mind, their reluctance to stand by their words points to excessive self-concern, one that overrides the good they are saying or doing.
Francis finishes up as follows:
For me, the matter is simple:Writers who are afraid to be Real should not be writing about Reality.
Before I continue - I have given this some thought, both when I started my blog as well as again upon reading this. So, yes, my answer is predictable, given this blog is not under nor linked to my documented legal name whereas, while my previous blog was also under a pseudonym, it was just a handle and my legal name was readily found there. Yet it is an answer I had already considered years ago.
I agree, a man who puts forth these ideas that the modern culture hates in such a way that he can be readily identified and attacked once noticed by the internet crowd is showing far more courage, especially if he works or lives in a field or area where those very ideas may prove unpopular, and in this day and age lose him a means to make a living, not just for himself but of course also for his family.
I also agree that using a pseudonym allows for a slight imbalance - making it difficult to be called to account for lies or slander. This shifts risk away while potentially rewarding bad behavior. This is a form of power that can, and often does corrupt.
Bruce also points out that posting under an assumed name isn't as protective as many think:
But there is no safe strategy for being alive, here-and-now. We are like the USSR in that (cowardly) obedience to evil and avoidance of controversy is no defence against persecution. And on the other side, some high profile dissenters operate for many years without being nobbled.
If They happen-to want-to Get You, for whatever temporary reason currently fits their agenda; and if there is no available 'evidence'; then 'evidence' can and will simply be fabricated. This is just as effective
This is all true.
Nevertheless, there is a large operational area short of national actors or those with similar resources (someone at Google with access to connection logs who can correlate them across accounts, etc) where penetrating a carefully curated pseudonym is non-trivial. It may not be as effective a defense as wished, but it's not an inconsequential one.
It also depends on what matters.
Perhaps because, while I didn't quite grow up online, I've had an online handle since my college days, and that was before the web was quite a thing - I'd once learned ASCII code numbers as part of getting familiar with a Hayes 300 baud modem we had with our Apple ][ growing up, though I've forgotten them since.
My legal name is no more who I am than the handle I use online.
And despite knowing that I am reducing the risk where I could show courage, I consider it the same as donning armor before going into a fight.
Is a soldier a coward for donning an armored vest?
And as Bruce points out, it may be difficult to call you personally to account, but it is far from impossible, especially if you do something actually illegal and immoral. I speak in the full knowledge that, while I make it more harder to track me down, I still can be tracked down.
Just ask the poor kid CNN tracked down over that trump/wrestling/CNN GIF.
And for what it is worth, in person, I work to speak truth. I may not take every person I run into to task for everything I disagree with them or think they are horribly wrong about but I won't lie about what I believe - which has severely strained relationships with friends and family, and lost me friends over the decades where feelings are strongly held.
In the end, I value speaking truth, even anonymously.
Take the hill of crosses. It is a hill in Lithuania where, as a protest to the opression of religion, Lithuanians would place crosses. The soviets bulldozed and razed the site repeatedly. Yet the crosses kept going up. Sometimes openly, often in secret - as it was illegal and one could be imprisoned, or sent to an asylum. They took desperate measures above and beyond trying to guard it, such as turning it into a sewage dump.
Yet signs of the Truth kept popping up.Were those who risked capture, ostracism, imprisonment, and having their livelihoods cut short cowards when they didn't openly walk up to plant a cross?
And people could see the truth, and the truth would not go away.