Just a few loose ends on this lunch hour. Today is my eighth wedding anniversary, so I probably will not be online much this evening, but there are a couple of things lurking in my head which I will try to type out now.
Random: I finished Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei last evening in preparation for writing a review this week for Manga Recon, and it is one of those comics that makes me really, really wish I could read Japanese. Also, I’m really looking forward to completing my review so that I can finally read everyone else’s.
Also, someone’s comment early this morning got me thinking more about the discussion of online identity, specifically what I value most when I’m assessing someone’s credibility online. I replied in comments with my thoughts, but I’ll share them here as well.
When I’m conversing with someone online, what I find I value much more than a name (legal or otherwise), is my own history with the person and/or my previous exposure to his/her online behavior. For instance, someone who I have interacted with repeatedly over the course of several years, whether they use their legal name or a pseudonym online, automatically has more credibility with me than someone I have never spoken with before. This is not to say that the new person has no credibility at all in my eyes, only that I have a much clearer idea of who someone is if I’ve interacted with them before (especially if that interaction has been prolonged), and this automatically gives me more context for their arguments and for understanding where they are coming from. A name by itself means very little, regardless of where it came from (mom & dad or otherwise), without some kind of history behind it.
This also applies to famous names. Someone with a recognizable name who I’ve had the opportunity to witness interacting respectfully with others online (or otherwise in the world) holds more weight than one that is just a name. Neil Gaiman, for instance, is someone whose online behavior has inspired great respect from me. He has proven himself time and time again to be sensible, circumspect, compassionate, and kind, so anything he says automatically has exceptional credibility and value as far as I’m concerned. On the other hand, someone who has been repeatedly hostile with fans or is generally rude online (or otherwise) is someone I’m less likely to pay attention to. (And to be perfectly honest, I’m less likely to spend my money on their work as well.)
Writing this all out, it seems really obvious, doesn’t it? I mean, don’t we all tend to make judgments this way? I think it’s very natural to trust our friends (and friendly acquaintances) more than we trust strangers, even when that might not be the best idea. So if I’m more inclined to trust and value the opinion of “happygirl38” who I’ve known for five years than “Susan Smith” who I just met five minutes ago, where does that leave the power of names? Kind of nowhere, except in terms of who those names represent.
Of course, I’m probably more inclined to trust and value the opinion of “Susan Smith” of five minutes ago than “imadick04” who has spent five years proving repeatedly that he’s a dick. So Susan can take heart! :)