Thursday, 11 April 2013

Cognitive-Identity Liberty Names Pseudonyms

The Big Think recently published an interesting article regarding people using names other than their birth names. The Big Think and others refer to these names as "pseudonyms" but I think this definition of naming creates a position of weakness for certain names.

I don't like the term pseudonym, it implies a lack of sincerity, authenticity, genuineness. The meaning of "pseudo" is false, counterfeit, fake. The correct definition would be "name," whether your name is your birth name, stage name, legally chosen name (subsequent to your birth name), or merely a temporary name, it is a name, it is or should be equally valid compared to any other name. For example if a woman, or man, changes their name upon becoming married, is their new name a pseudonym of is it just their name? What people should support is multiple names, name creativity, with all names being equally valid. The idea that an arbitrary name chosen by your parents must define who you are for life is very silly. Governments or other authorities should not have the power to dictate how we name ourselves. We should have the freedom to control our identities. We should have name-freedom. My name is my name.

I have always found the idea appealing regarding some cultures where adolescents undergo a rite of passage thus they change their name; they choose a name wholly dependent upon how they think they should be defined not upon how their parents think they should be defined.

The Big Think article relates to British doctors being forced by law public authority (GMC) to use their so-called "real names" when using social media, which is an outrageous injustice upon cognitive-identity liberty. Any name a person uses is real. Here are some important links listed in the Big Think article, which we are considering:

Here's a great excerpt from the Daily Telegraph article:

I should here declare an interest. As is widely known, Max Pemberton is a pen name that I use for my journalism. I decided to use a nom de plume when I started this column 10 years ago because I wanted to write frankly about my experiences in the NHS and I knew that I would struggle to do this if I used my real name. Over time, my colleagues came to know of my other career as a journalist and now, in my personal life, more people – including my partner – call me Max than Alex, the name I practise under.

But I’m pleased that there is still a robust distinction between my clinical work and my media career. I want it to be clear to my patients that when they sit in front of me I am not a journalist, but their doctor. It also helps me maintain a distance between my two careers. While most of my patients are aware of my work in the media, they are grateful for the distinction. Yet I know for certain that I would never have written those first columns if the GMC’s guidance had been in place then. Writing anonymously helped me to be honest.

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