Friday, June 12, 2009

To Avoid Dressing Like A Clown [Repost]

*Due to the recent comments dealing with blogging pseudo-names, I thought this old post may be of some value to the discussion. Some may use these names to "hide" behind, but to make that assumption about everyone may be painting a bit broadly.

The question of what “name” to use when blogging may not seem like something that would require much thought - until you have to choose one. I'd say that there are two general schools of thought here.

The first school’s thinking is to use the most natural option, their real name (or is some form of it). The second is to use a name that is not their real name, in a way hiding their identity from the world.

Many people see a certain cowardice in not using their real name. I can understand this, but I don't think I completely agree. A person using a pseudo name to hide their identity to be uncharitable and vicious would deserve the label of coward, but anonymity can serve another less shady purpose.

In the first chapter of Cardinal Ratzinger’s (Pope Benedict XVI) book An Introduction to Christianity, he retells Soren Kierkegaard’s famous story of the clown and the burning village:
“According to this story a traveling circus in Denmark had caught fire. The manager thereupon sent the clown, who was already dressed and made-up for the performance, into the neighboring village to fetch help, especially as there was a danger that the fire would spread across the fields of dry stubble and engulf the village itself. The clown hurried into the village and requested the inhabitants to come as quickly as possible to the blazing circus and help to put the fire out. But the villagers took the clown’s shouts simply for an excellent piece of advertising, meant to attract as many people as possible to the performance; they applauded the clown and laughed till they cried. The clown felt more like weeping than laughing; he tried in vain to get people to be serious, to make it clear to them that it was no trick but bitter earnest, that there really was a fire. His supplications only increased the laughter; people thought he was playing his part splendidly – until finally the fire did engulf the village, it was too late for help and both circus and village were burned to the ground.”
Don’t read into everyone dying at the end because they didn’t listen to the clown part – that’s not the point of my post. My point is that anonymity can allow a person to write without having to worry about other’s perceptions clouding the message. Once others have formed an opinion of a person, that person’s words and thoughts will forever be shaped be those opinions.

If people see you “dressed like a clown”, they tend to see your actions and hear your words accordingly. It's unfortunate, but that’s just how it is. And when it happens, as the clown, you truly feel more like weeping than laughing.


Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Good one! I don't have a problem with people coming up with names for blogs that aren't real. It's only when they just post comments as "anon" that drives me nuts. At least call yourself anon1 or something because pretty soon, you have about 5 anonymous commenters and it's hard to keep track of who thinks what!

I wonder if the clown story is true? Poor, silly clown and poor, silly town!

James Moore said...

I dropped the pseudo-name because I want people to come up to me after Mass and ask "what the hell were you thinking...?"
But Traditio and I have different reasons for posting.

Junius said...

"I don't have a problem with people coming up with names for blogs that aren't real."

"Be gone DORK, or be named."

If only you'd used two pseudonyms, you could have avoided having two faces...

James Moore said...

I think you have it backward.
The pseudo is not the man.
The man is one even if they use many pseudo's.
So the faces are as many as pseudo's used with differing opinions.

Be gone Junius into the mist idealism.
-Men do not rally around ideas, men rally around other men.
-Ideas lack substance. Real men provide the substance.
-The problems are real therefore the solutions must be just as real. -To persist in the realm of idealism allows the errors to continue.
-Tell me which had the realer effect. The writings of Junius or the American Revolution? They are two separate events you know. The first was idealism presented in a manner that cost the writer nothing. The second was firmly ground in reality and cost real men everything.
-A bunch of other points even better than the ones I listed but I need to solve the real problem of folding laundry and cleaning the kitchen. Though I would much rather lament the evils entropy and disorder.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

What I meant was, I don't have a problem with people who BLOG but don't post their real names (which is what I used to do.). I DO have a problem with people who troll blogs, commenting randomly and rudely without naming themselves, or keeping their own blog so people reading the comments can follow them back to their blog and find out what makes them tick...we've found that you trolls usually don't have time to have your own blogs because you are too busy bothering the serious bloggers. There's nothing wrong with throwing a different opinion out there once in a while, or asking for a clarification on some ideas posted, but there's something very wrong with harrassing someone on their own blog, over and over again, when it's obvious that you are just here to annoy everyone/prove to everyone what a brilliant person you think you are. You become like the neighbor who thinks he's welcome to come over and grab a beer from the garage fridge, and shoot the breeze, when all the guys from the neighborhood can't stand you and keep giving you hints that you are not welcome anymore.

J. Thorp said...

Wow. My comment on the Precepts of Liberals post wasn't questioning whether people could, or should, use screen names ... although I do think that this notion of adopting "personas" really underscores one of the points I *was* trying to make ...

My point re: names was this: *I* made the choice years ago to travel cyberspace under my real name. Because I do so, I can't afford to be silent, for example, when a blog that has (or in this case, formerly had) my name on it says something I find divisive, ridiculous, offensive, or whatever. If my actual name's on the site, and I'm silent, I'm conspicuously so -- and people who know me can find me and call me on it. If TheGhost wails, or is silent ... well, what do you expect? He's TheGhost!

I am trying to make sure that I am consistent -- that I speak the same in dark and daylight, inside myself and out. I don't always succeed, but I try. And I find I haven't the time to patrol the posts to keep J(im) Thorp represented clearly and consistently. So I'm limiting my exposure.

But that has to do with my choice, not James Moore/Germanicus's or TheGhost's or Junius's. Bottom line: Keep your pseudonyms if you like. But I'd advise avoiding personas. A person divided, etc. ... how, then, can you live with yourself?


Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Agreed, Jim

:-p right back atcha

Nancy from said...

I'm still feeling sorrow for the Clown....

But, I thought your readers might be interested in an old view of Catholic trenches...