Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Identity and Location
A long time ago, Ideas Man, PhD wrote an article about Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and the Internets. Much more recently - as in yesterday - I was linked to it from another discussion about Real Names versus Scary Anonymous People. All of the prior discussions of identity and the internet I'd run into broke along very similar lines - the people who think that if you really believe something your offline identity should be tied to it (with a subset of people who believe anyone unwilling to do this are automatically trolls) and the people who point out that linking your legal identity with outspoken speech can have various serious detraction, including death (with a subset of people trumpeting pseudonymity). In all of the discussions, the issues of identity have been connected with two main things - the level of physicality (online versus offline) and the individual who should/shouldn't be expected to have a single identity.
It is true that in a world of pure anonymity there can be no repercussions for anything that anyone does because there is no consistency. Some people take the chance to be very vulnerable, other people take the chance to harass and insult people. I maintain that the choices are influenced by the anonymity, but only in the sense that they remove consequences from actions more than is usual for people to experience - that is the essential natures of the people remains the same, it's just they feel free to show that nature more honestly when it isn't connected to consequences. Other people claim that anonymity will always engender cruelty; lacking solid evidence either way, for now that will have to remain an abstract disagreement. Pseudonymity in the way I've traditionally discussed it, offers a halfway spot - a person has a consistent identity with a reputation that grows over time, however that identity is not linked to their offline, legal identity so they are afforded some measure of protection from consequences (often mitigated by stable things like IP Addresses and MAC IDs). On the other end is the Facebook and G+ Solution, where people have a single identity and are limited in their ability to express themselves without it, with active work to punish people for the use of pseudonyms or multiple identities.
Ideas Man brings another aspect into focus, though - one which cuts through the distinctions I'm used to when discussing identity and the internet. "Anonymity with a face" is an offline anonymity found in large crowds when names may or may not be shared - when the physicality is present but often without the consequences of sharing an identity. I've experienced both the upside of pleasant conversation with strangers and the downside of being cornered and harassed for my identity - and in the latter case I lied and took steps to conceal my home out of fear of the consequences (namely, someone three times my age harassing, stalking and raping me). I had never thought of this as part of identity, but in retrospect it is clearly an example of the advantages of being anonymous - if he has been able to access my facebook page, for example, he could have easily followed and stalked me.
The other slash across how I've thought about identity and the internet was the concept of "anonymous public space." His focus is on the liminal space created between people in public places, where they are known to only some, catching up with only some, not really professional or personal wholly, where we are talking to a small group but may be overheard by others who don't know us or know us only by name or reputation. He likened it to Socrates' concept of the agora, where philosophical discussion could take place, where the personal could feed into the professional and mix; a place where there might be consequences but they are distant, so more free form discussion can take place. I had not thought about the intersection of place and identity in quite this way, and while a lot of these thoughts are new thoughts, I'm really enjoying the brain shift they engender.
( More pictures here. )
Skin: De la Soul, Aestali - Cream Rose
Eyes: De La Soul, RooMee Eyes - Rainbow
Eyelashes 1: SLink, Mesh Lashes
Eyelashes 2: Flugeln Brise, 05-A
Eyeshadow 1: Cherry, Alura Fairy Makeup (Zodiac Pisces)
Eyeshadow 2: White Widow, Pisces (Zodiac Pisces)
Eyeshadow: De La Soul, Inked
Ears: Illusions, Seelie Ears
Lipstick: Mock, Glasside Lip - Flame Pea
Hair: Analog Dog, clarity gold
Crown: Cherry, Alura (Zodiac Pisces)
Wings: Fancy Fairy, Azarelle
Hands: SLink, Mesh Hands
Bracelet 1: G Field, Rusty Rose
Bracelet 2: Nevermore, Chain Bracelet
Dress: Lassitude & Ennui, Naiad sundress (Zodiac Pisces)
Shoes: katat0nik, Bowie Peeptoe Shoes
Poses: Exposeur or !bang (Zodiac: Pisces)
Location: Global Domination Secondary Location
Light Settings: Places Astryls Wild
Water Settings: Glassy
Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping, only