In religious texts, there’s the whole concept of true names
. Basically, that someone knowing your name gives them power over you.
In Jewish tradition, when several children have died in a family the next that is born has no name given to it, but is referred to as “Alter
” (literally “old”), the view being that the Angel of Death
, not knowing the name of the child, will not be able to seize it.
I was listening to this unbelievable 4-hour podcast
, in which Balaji makes the argument for using a pseudonym online. His argument is as follows—
1️⃣ Ancient societies understood that giving someone your real name gives them power over you. You’ve suddenly gone from ‘that guy with black hair from Newcastle’ to ‘Mustafa Sultan’. You can find out a lot of information about me with this.
2️⃣ Our ‘real name’ — should actually be called a ‘state name’. It’s been a way for the state to keep track of you (death, marriage, tax, property).
3️⃣ But you can unbundle some of the functions of your name — broadly, these are: 1) state name 2) day-to-day name 3) online name.
4️⃣ Separating these three identities gives you armour. Now, something you say online under (3) can’t be connected to (1) and reported to your university/workplace by the mob
Let me add my own masala to the mix —
5️⃣ As a medic, anyone can disagree with you and report you to the GMC — potentially triggering an investigation and threatening your medical career.