When I first came online, in the 1990s, the way to keep oneself secure was through the use of a pseudonym. Over the decades, the identity of Deoridhe has become more easily found than my offline identity, at least online. It's cohesive, long lasting, and coherent in form. From place to place, the name Deoridhe remains constant even while it protects me offline from strangers who have nothing better to do with their time than harass and threaten women.
It wasn't until today that I realized a coherent pseudonym could also save someone's life from a brutal regime like Syria.
There was a certain amount of talk recently about the death of discrete identities online - that our offline and online identities would become fused and merged, and those of us with pseudonymous online lives (and for me, at least, the protection is almost entirely one way - my offline friends know my online identity; some of my online friends, carefully chosen, know my offline identity; the only protection from offline to online is professional) were doomed to have it end sooner rather than later under the weight of Facebook's demand that we all be "real" people.
When I got my name legally changed a number of years ago, Deoridhe was almost one of my new middle names. I answer to it as readily as I answer to my offline name. Deoridhe is me, in a very real and lasting way - and online Deoridhe is a far more clear and ongoing identity than my offline name.
Today I'm fighting to get people housing, fighting to keep people in housing, fighting for people to value themselves, fighting to get everything done, and fighting to not vomit since my stomach is a mass of knots and anxiety.
But no one is asking for my Facebook password so they can steal my identity to post their lies.
When I go to bed tonight, it will be in my own bed; I will have food to eat, and no one will be threatening or torturing me. I may feel sick and stressed, I may feel like I'm struggling against waves and within bureaucracies which don't care about me or my clients, but those bureaucracies aren't trying to kill me.
My heart and prayers to the gods go out to the people for whom this is not true, all around the world.