A rebroadcast of “How Much Does Your Name Matter?” from Freakonomics Radio looked at the impact of a name on society, perception, prejudice, and ability to succeed.
Indeed, there is some evidence that a name can influence how a child performs in school and even her career opportunities. There’s also the fact that different groups of parents — blacks and whites, for instance — have different naming preferences. Stephen Dubner talks to Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney about a mysterious discrepancy in Google ads for Instant Checkmate, a company that sells public records. Sweeney found that searching for people with distinctively black names was 25% more likely to produce an ad suggesting the person had an arrest record – regardless of whether that person had ever been arrested.
…So you might think that names make a big difference. But Steve Levitt insists otherwise. In a paper called “The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names,” Levitt and Roland Fryer argue that a first name doesn’t seem to affect a person’s economic life at all.
Names do, however, reveal a lot about the people doing the naming. Eric Oliver, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, talks about his new research (with co-authors Thomas Wood and Alexandra Bass) that looks at how children’s names are influenced by their parents’ political ideology:
Whether you choose to change your name or not as a blogger, this is a fascinating episode, worth the listen.
As a blogger, though, you have the right to be whomever you wish. It works best if you make that choice before you start blogging.
Names are funny things. Like the Freakonmics episode, there is research to indicate that whether we like it or not, decisions are made based upon our names, sometimes by ourselves not just others.
I honestly believe that my name cultivated my personality. I didn’t really know my real name until I was older, being yelled by a nickname across the fields by my family. It wasn’t until we moved to a new school district when I was 13 years old that I put on the “Lorelle” name for a try. A few years later in high school, a new nickname was put on my name tag and Lorelle took a backseat. After college, I decided to become this “Lorelle” moniker that I’d dragged around with me, turning it into a persona like “Madonna” and “Cher.” The one name wonder. I loved it when mail arrived addressed to Mr. Lorelle Lorelle. Computers, fairly new back then, couldn’t handle someone without a last name.
I felt like I had to live up to that name. It was someone. Some thing!
When I met my first other “Lorelle,” she felt the same way. I’m not sure how much she lived up to the name expectations as I never heard from her again, but I’m sure she did. It’s a hell of a unique label.
Years later, having met many Lorelles, a Lorelle contacted me, freaked out to find another. “I thought I was the only one. I thought I was unique.” I decided to find out what all the Lorelles out there were doing, so I put a search for “Lorelle” into Twitter and Google Alerts.
After two months I turned it off. Too many Lorelles out there are doing some embarrassing and stupid stuff. Stop it. I want to get back to feeling like Lorelle means something special and powerful. A world changer not a world-example-of-the-lowest-common-denominator.
How did you choose your name for your blog? Did you decide to go as you, the real person? Or did you choose to abbreviate or hide your identity?
When Google+ came out insisting that your real name be your identifier, the real names of many protecting themselves with pseudonyms were revealed, angering many and terrifying others determined to hide behind their fake identity, some for very good reasons.
Choosing a name as the author of your site is challenging. Who do you want to be? What will the name represent? Should it represent anything or anyone?
If you do not blog controversy or risk your life, work, or family with what you blog about, keep your own name or change it enough to keep some privacy. Never forget you control what you publish so protect your privacy when you step online to do anything.
My recommendation has always been to be a human sounding name. SexyChick69 begs to be uncovered. Pun intended.
If you do not wish to be identified, don’t hide under a silly name. Name yourself something human sounding like “John Smith,” “Andrea Alexander,” “Sally Sparrow,” or “LaTasha Smith,” really mixing things up.
My friend, Joost de Valk, names his site, Yoast as that is how his first name is pronounced. Understanding his market is English speakers, mostly Americans, he made it easy for them to say his name even though the spelling is different.
If you have a spelling issue that confounds you, consider playing with the spelling and have a little fun with it.
Fake Name Generator is a fun tool designed to help you choose a new fake name. You can set the region or ethnicity and set it to random or a specific sex. One you choose a name, you can use the information generated below the name to fill in your character, or use the email account automatically set up. Click “activate this email” and you create a free disposable email address. Enter the email in any form that requires email verification and it will appear on that page.
Once have a name chosen that you feel represents you, the blogger, consider how secure you wish your identity to remain before you set up all your accounts.
Creating a Secret Online Identity
There is a difference between anonymously using the web, controlling what can be tracked through your web browser, and being anonymous on the web. I’ll leave others to tell you how to browse anonymously and privately on the web. This article is about your identity online.
Here is a simple breakdown of how to create an anonymous identity online.
- Create your online person, with all the private details wanted by social media, blogging, and email accounts.
- Create an image and avatar for your accounts.
- Create an email account.
- Set up your blog (WordPress.com is my recommendation).
- Set up your social media channels as the new you.
- Start feeding the monsters with articles and social media chats and information to create the new “you.”
The first step is to create the persona of the person you will become. Give them a name, birth date, maiden name, residence or place of birth, and a basic character outline.
Then establish their secrets, the security check items typically requested that only that person would know. Identify the persona’s favorite pet, favorite teacher, and other private information requested when signing into an online account.
Create an email account that does not need verification that would reveal private information. Keep the account separate from your personal accounts. Do not merge them.
Then start setting up your site and social media accounts using that name and email.
Reading through the linked articles on privacy, both personally and while browsing. The two concepts apply if you truly wish to hide your identity online.
Take notes and keep a file or notebook on this new identity. You will need to refer to it frequently until you memorize all the parts and pieces. Ensure there are backups with people you trust or in a safe place, just in case.
Google tends to be ubiquitous, so don’t consider using Gmail if you wish to maintain two active accounts, and maintain some anonymity. When you log into Gmail, you’ve logged into the entire Google network. Switching to the other account means logging out and logging back in every time. Do that or learn to work with two separate web browsers such as Firefox and Chrome at the same time.
Here are some more tips on protecting your privacy by a secret identity and by proxy web browsing.
- How to Ditch Big Brother and Disappear Forever
- How can I be anonymous on the Internet?
- How to Stay Anonymous Online | Digital Trends
- Generate a Random Name – Fake Name Generator
- SlashGeek · How to be completely Anonymous online – SlashGeek
- Learn about Anonymous Browsing
- How to Be Online Anonymously: 10 Steps – wikiHow
WARNING: Most accounts you currently have with Facebook, Google, etc., do not allow you to change your name, even if you get married and get a married name in some cases. This is being debated currently with Google, and if enough people complain, they may allow you to change your name, but right now, you are stuck with the one you have, or you may create a new account and start from scratch.
You may already have a blog identify, a blogging name. If you do, this blog exercise may serve as an opportunity to rethink it, as well as consider what private information you’ve shared publicly.
If you don’t have a blogger identity, and you are looking for one, or considering adding another one, this is your blog exercise.
There are many times when a blogger might wish to have a separate identity when blogging on a specific subject, or to branch out into a different area, especially one that is controversial.