Wednesday, 7 July 2010

I'll be who 'I' want to be, thanks.

There are many bloggers more lucid than I am writing about their opposition to Real ID and the forums. Sven's post here provides links to many of the 'big names' in the WoW blogsphere and their opinions (though I would suggest that if you chuck a metaphorical stone at the community you are 99.99% certain to hit an 'anti Real ID' post). I think it's fair to say that there's a lot of opposition.

Leaving aside the whole who the fuck are you to decide what information of mine I choose to share issue for a moment (as I hope the bold text makes my point) I'd like to extrapolate this forward a little.

How many forums have you posted to on the internet in the many years you have been using it as a medium of communication, idea sharing, leisure activity etc? And how many forums have you posted on using your 'real' name? Because for me, the answer to that two-part question is a) a lot, and b) none. There is a reason that most internet forums are posted to by people using pseudonyms, and not just because of John Gabriel's theory either. I don't want my details splashed all over the web thanks. I don't necessarily want my internet life linked back to 'me'. In WoW I don't really want Pilf/Sassi/whoever linked back to Sally (gosh, yes that's my first name...!) but you see I'm blessed in as much as even if you did have my real name, it's so common you'd have to work quite hard to find me via Google (I'm sure you could using other sites but I don't know enough about them to make any informed comments). I've been online for about 10 years, so since my early 20s. If all the forums I'd posted to were connectable to me, well I might be a bit embarrassed at times, and completely mortified at others, but it would chart, I think, my changing interests and views in a way that's really quite personal to me.

Pushing a little further, my employer spends a fair amount of time instructing its employees (via email) that their internet presence must be unblemished. It's also written into our contract, as it probably is for most people, under a vague catchall phrase like 'not bringing the organisation into disrepute'. Sure, what they're getting at is Facebook and 'social networking' sites but I'm not sure that I'd want my colleagues and bosses knowing the ins and outs of my internet life because it's none of their fucking business. Now my daughter's generation live their life (it seems to me) in full view of the world via Facebook. And it truly makes me cringe and explain ad nauseum, ad infinitum (in their view, at least) how much they might live to regret it when they're in their 30s. But maybe they won't. Maybe the world will have changed so much by them that everyone will expect to know everything about everyone via the web. But as it stands at present, life ain't like that for my age group. And people do judge.

A while back I wrote an RP story in two parts about Pilf, that I subsequently took down after someone pointed out that a) it could be very seriously misinterpreted, and b) queried whether I would be comfortable with people I knew in RL reading it. Both of which were valid points and the Fel posts were subsequently removed. I'd never have posted them under my real name. Pure Shores would probably not be up if my real name was linked to it. Because this is my 'fantasy' life not my real life. And I don't see why these boundaries should be blurred.

TL;DR: I don't post to forums, and I don't use Real ID but I'm still vehemently opposed to this change. And for anyone who has ever has issues with harassment via the web or in real life, I send you my support. It hasn't really touched me but it has touched people I know and care about. And anything that makes it easier for the stalker minority to ruin people's lives is not acceptable.

1 comment:

  1. I think what annoys me the most at the moment is Blizzard's reply to people's concerns - It's optional. You can choose not to use Real ID in game and you can choose not to post on the forums.

    Great.. so basically.. unless I want to show everyone my real name I can't actually post on the forums. Great choice that is.

    I don't spend much time on the forums, but I am generally the one in my guild who post recruitment messages. I'm not going to be doing that under my real name - nor do I think anyone else in my guild will. So my guild now can't recruit people via the forums..

    And you were saying that people can't find you in RL with your name. But if you can see ppl's real IDs on the forums (I'm not clear on if it's just showing your name or if you can "see" their real ID) that means you can find them on facebook. And facebook is you, it may not have your address but it definitely has a lot more personal information about you than you want to share with the random person from the WoW forums.

    Facebook integration seems odd to me to begin with, but maybe because I don't use Facebook. Different topic though.

    In short; I agree. This is a horrible idea from Blizzard and I really hope they change their mind. I suspect a lot of people won't post on the forums if this goes through.