Phantasies and Alternate Dimensions (feline_phantasy) wrote,
Phantasies and Alternate Dimensions
feline_phantasy

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August 8: It's NYM day!

If you aren't on Twitter, I would hope you read some bit of news about the controversy over Google+ requiring "real" names to use their service.

It has the greater Intrawebs in a turmoil and is generally regarded as total authoritarian bullshit.

In the spirit of the freedom to choose your internet nym(s), someone has thoughtfully declared August 9 to be NYMDAY. This is the day that celebrates your right to be known by any nym you desire and anywhere you desire.

I will pick up, carry, and pass on the reason why this is so important. Now some who read this will automatically think "reverse discrimination" but that's hardly the case. The fact remains that there are several demographics who DO have something to worry about on the Internet, and DO need to use an alternate nym to protect themselves. Those demographics include, but are hardly limited to: Women of any culture, foreigners who are in a country which suppresses and/or punishes free speech, rape victims, Latinos/Hispanics, Blacks. If you are a white man from a Western country, you don't have that much to worry about - unless you're in a sensitive government job, or you like to express opinions that you really don't want current or future employers to see, or you just simply like your privacy.

Don't let corporations like Google, Facebook and the like try to tell you that it's okay and safe to post your RL name on their sites. It's not. We teach youngsters never EVER to reveal their RL names on the Internet, and yet we have sites like these that insist we use them.

More and more of us are saying NO SIREE BOB, YOU ARE NOT GETTING MY REAL NAME, NOR MY REAL LIFE PICTURE.

What really galls me about this requirement is the real reason why they're doing it. They offer these services for free, and yet, we all know that there is nothing that is truly free, especially when it comes to something offered by a large corporation. You aren't always aware of what the price is, and even if you are, you may ignore it for your own purposes.

One. These services use your RL data to configure targeted advertisements. That's okay; you can simply ignore them or use ad blocking software. This can be an annoyance but it's hardly a deal-breaker for most.

Two. Now this one is a deal-breaker for many of us: They mine as much of your RL data as they can, up to and including cross-referencing other things on the Internet, using facial recognition software on your personal and friend pictures, and compiling and selling that data to whomever they please, without your knowledge.

Number two is the one which is truly affected if you use a nym that is not your "wallet" name. Companies aren't really interested in learning what "Marie Ravencrow" likes. They can't send snail mail to Marie, they can't telephone-solicit Marie, and a goodly share of her data is relevant on the Internet, only.

If you're still in the workforce and still have a relative social life outside your home...if you still watch TV and participate in the things that a great many do...you are likely not aware of how deeply Korporate Amerika (as I have coined it) is in control of your choices already. I have been medically retired, and I no longer watch network TV, preferring to get my news and entertainment from the Internet. I have stepped back, and out of, the greater culture that pervades this country, as it is run by corporations, and by doing so, have gained an especial perspective on how our culture has been literally hijacked.

Now, the corporations are looking to see how much of our Internet lives they can invade. They are trying to get around laws that prevent them from restricting your free access to whatever content you desire. They are trying to muffle and muzzle your free speech. They are doing their damnedest to worm their way into your Internet life to further program your consumerism.

Insisting on using a RL name, picture, and other details should be a Big Red Flag to you - but since they've already hijacked your free thought offline, are you truly capable of seeing how they're trying to restrict your freedoms in one of the last true frontiers left?

If you cannot, then you need to "unplug" a little.

Let me share a couple of personal stories with you, starting with something that occurred to me when I was still living in the state of my birth (which I won't reveal because I know certain 'parties' are reading this).

I have a personal blog, just like a lot of other people and I have blogged about my opinions, concerns, and everyday occurrances, just like millions of other people. In this case, I had blogged about two things. One was having to severely discipline my dog for killing a parakeet, and the other, the fact that one of my cats was sick. A few people criticized me harshly for how I had to discipline my dog, and began to accuse me of animal abuse. If I'd had to spank a child for doing something as heinous, the same people would likely accuse me of child abuse and this is yet another symptom of the corporate "think" imposed upon us which I won't get into right at this moment. Suffice it to say that some veiled threats were made, but time passed and nothing happened. The incident ceased to be foremost on my mind as other matters of life took precedence.

I used to be a DJ for a well-known Internet radio station, and one night not that long after, I was happily covering my shift when I got a knock on the door. I put on a long song and went to see who it was, since I was not expecting anyone. Two county sheriffs stood on my doorstep and insisted on coming inside - because they had gotten a complaint of animal abuse.

I was dumbfounded and let them in. They were greeted heartily by the dog that had been disciplined, no worse off for her punishment. The cat that was ill was right where they could see her, and I had an appointment with the vet the following day; I gave them the name and number of my vet so they could verify it. Having seen that all my pets were well taken care of, they left.

Later on, I called the sheriff station and had a very nice conversation with the desk sergeant. He couldn't tell me who made the complaint, but he did verify it wasn't any of my neighbors.

It was one of my detractors from the Internet.

I'm female. At the time, I lived alone, which by itself made me vulnerable. To add insult to injury, I suffer from a kind of PTSD that is a result of abandonment and child physical abuse.

For weeks after, I couldn't figure out why I would get very edgy around 6PM or so, till it finally dawned on me that this was the same time the sheriffs showed up on my doorstep investigating the bogus animal abuse complaint.

I no longer live alone. My roommate does not hide his RL identity on the Internet, and has chosen not to, despite all my warnings. His reason was the same as so many others - he wanted to prove he had nothing to hide. That was fine and good when he was living alone, but once he moved in with me, it became a bigger concern. Things went fine for awhile until, once again, we had a seriously ill cat, roughly two years ago. M blogged about this cat and our struggle with trying to decide what to do about his illness (it was to the point where we either chose to let him die in peace at home with his family, or to take him into the vet to be put asleep). The next thing we knew, a whole hoard of trolls were crawling down our throats. Threats soon followed but weren't taken seriously - that is, till they started publishing a Google View of a trailer park near my home, and crowed that they knew where we lived.

Even then, we both hoped it wouldn't go any further - but it did. Next thing we knew, we were being visited by the county animal control officer, who claimed dozens of calls had been made that we were abusing our animals. I was asleep at the time, so M wouldn't allow him in the house. Some of our furbabies were peering out the windows, as they often do, and their happy, little chubby faces were proof enough that we took good care of them. Again, it was determined that the calls did not come from anyone living nearby; in fact, the officer said he was going to return to the office and call some of these people back to ask them just when they've seen the cat in question. Of course, not a one of them could say that they had actually seen the cat - most of them don't even live in the same state we do. They babbled on about a blog post they'd read. To prove a point, M posted soon after that we'd strangled the cat (we actually hadn't - we'd taken him to the vet and had him put to sleep). Again, all kinds of kerfluffle started, only this time the officer didn't bother coming by to visit. He called to tell us about all these "concerned individuals" who were calling to tell him we'd strangled our cat. We had a wry laugh about it, and M took the post down.

These are but two examples of how releasing just a little RL info about yourself can lead to terrible harassment from people whose only intention is to cause you harm. Imagine how it would be if either one of us had been stalked by someone who sincerely wanted to see us dead. Believe me, the thought DID occur to us after the incident with the cat - and there were those who were making veiled threats in that direction.

The idiots behind social networks like Google+ don't stop to think of what can happen if the wrong people take a dislike to you. I've heard horror stories about people getting harassed by individuals calling their places of employment making false claims with the idea of getting them fired. In one case, someone DID get fired.

The person who plays Willy, my virtual world partner, has at least two individuals who would love nothing better than to find out where they live - and hurt them. One person in particular began polling their online friends to find out where they are. Thankfully the friends in question did not know where they live, and were smart enough not to give this person any other information they may have known.

There is some deadly serious thought behind the idea of using a nym when you're on the Internet. While I love to find ways to connect with other people, I think I will do just fine with things like my blogs and Twitter, all of which allow me to use nyms. I do have a Facebook but I don't use it, and frankly, I'm thinking of deleting it. Hell - I don't even use my RL name on my main email account, so what makes Google+ think I would use it with them?

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UPDATE: I would like to add this link, which contains a fairly extensive list of the kinds of people put in harm's way by a "real name" policy:

Who is harmed by a "Real Names" policy?
Tags: nyms, online identity, real life information
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