This is normal, natural, healthy, fun, useful.
One of the San Franciscan myths was that the Net would be a Great Emancipator of our identities, which in Modernity are highly typed and categorized. This is a warping of the PostHumanism view of using TechnologySolutions to empower people to level the playing field; instead, identity games simply deflect or masque IdentifyingSignals that lead to an unlevel playing field.
The Net is frequently used by people dissatisified with their selves. Since MediaIsControl?, the 'Net is considered a SafePlace? to be someone else, since you can in theory disable an attack. However, in practice, this has turned out to be a mixed bag. While it's true that support groups help many, often the same freedom to be someone different than in person leads to degenerative behaviour (cf. CyberTypes).
health effects of identity game
Playing an identity game where you have a constructed persona 'online' from your 'offline' identity is not healthy.
I suspect that is true, but is there really any evidence for it? Do we have any evidence that, say, spies during WWII had more mental/physical health problems than other people? No, bad example ... OK, how about ... Do we have any evidence that, say, thespians who act on very long-running plays have more mental/physical health problems than some comparable group of people ?
It's important to accept who you are and have confidence in who you are.
Yes, that's very important, but I thought that spies and actors did that just fine. In fact, the stereotype is that thay have larger-than-average egos. -- DavidCary.
Psychosis. It's a psychosis in the DSM4 to construct a separate identity that is walled off from the rest of your life. A normal WalledIdentity relates only to spheres of influence (e.g. professional vs. personal). A psychotic walled identity becomes a 'secret identity' constructed in order to escape from normal life. The net.myth of 'reconstructing' yourself online is not healthy since running away from problems in life is immature. EverQuest? players are classical examples.
Insecurity. PenNames mediate relationships. MediaIsControl?. Control is inversely correlated to risk: the less you can risk damage, the more control you need to LimitDamage. The damage in this case is almost always a bruised ego. Insecurity, in other words. [The equivocation between anonymous posters and oppressed political groups is not only false, but terribly disrespectful and ignoble.]
The Wiki Way. On a wiki, anonymous contributions are encouraged, but anonymity discouraged. We contribute without ego to TheCollective; our work is criticized, edited, and deleted. People who bruise easily cannot function in this environment. We also form PersonalRelationships to form TheCollective. Meatball is all about constructing PersonalRelationships. PenNames and anonymity interfere with that.
Post-humanism. The PostHuman feminists were not about escapism, but about overcoming their life obstacles through TechnologySolutions that would level the playing field. In practice, this has happened mostly through knowledge work that has provided paths for women in Western society to enter the workforce in positions of power, such as doctors, lawyers, financiers, executives, etc. Identity games such as pseudonymity have instead (sadly) reinforced the oppression. Since AnonymityIsPower, and the empowered are geeks with too much free time, and Western geeks with too much free time are skewed towards racism and misogyny, anonymous expression has led to more extreme racism (cf. CyberTypes) and misogyny (e.g. StarlaPureheart).
Movies. Finally, the James Bond of movies is not a typical spy; he is rather a hollow zeitgeist character of the Cold War representing military, technical, male, and British colonial superiority. (Bourne is a better spy character for today's world.) Have you talked to any real spies, actors? Your counterexamples are based on movies. However, in general, big egos are a strong indicator of insecurity. You only need to push people away, or push them down, if you need to protect yourself or make yourself feel stronger. The essence of SoftSecurity is that we are weak because we are strong. CryptoNauts use HardSecurity because they believe they are fundamentally weak. (The James Bond of novels, by the way, is blatantly insecure.) -- SunirShah
I agree that real spies and real actors are more relevant than fiction. Unfortunately, I don't know any real spies, and not enough actors to be statistically significant. (I'm hoping someone who does know will delete the false stereotypes and give us the real stuff). -- DavidCary
big egos are a strong indicator of insecurity.
So, doing Wiki:EgolessWiki and Wiki:EgolessProgramming indicates self-confidence and self-acceptance ? And what better way to do that than anonymously, or with a temporary pen-name ? -- DavidCary