Acclaimed psychologist, Erik Erikson, argued that identity versus role confusion is the central crisis in adolescence. “Who am I?” “What do I believe in?” These are two of the most important questions that an adolescent has to tackle. It is Erikson who coined the phrase ‘identity crisis.’ Erikson believed that if an adolescent resolved his identity crisis successfully he/she will achieve a stable sense of identity which can eventually lead to the necessary intimacy in early adulthood relationships. Otherwise the adolescent will stumble over his identity, relationships and values.
The criminal who shot (and who can shoot accurately, according to newspaper reports) Jyotirmoy Dey is named “Rohee Thangappan Joseph alias Satish Kalya.” Thangappan Joseph is probably his original name because that is a very common name in Kerala. But Rohee is not at all a Keralite name. Satish Kalya is very un-Keralaite too. So what is that criminal’s geographical identity? Where can we locate (place) him?
I raise this question not for the sake of locating that particular criminal in any particular geographical area, but for focusing on the question of identity and pseudonyms.
Pseudonymous writers never fascinate me. They irritate me endlessly. They appear to be cowards who attack lying in ambush. They are like criminals who have no specific identity known to the public. Often they make remarks and comments that are meant to attack someone personally or to defend a particular ideology or political party or religion or organisation… Like the “quotation gangs” in Kerala who attack anyone on payment of a fee. One reason why I migrated from my previous blog service provider is the preponderance of pseudonymous writers there. Many of those pseudonymous bloggers seem to be part of a network. The network will be activated the moment you post an article or a comment that is not acceptable to any one member in the network, much like a gang of adolescents rising up in rebellion over some trifle matter that affects any gang member.
One advantage at WordPress is that pseudonymous commenting is not very easy. WordPress reveals the identity of the writer as much as it possibly can. For example, WordPress will let me know exactly the email identity, its location, the service provider and the IP identity of the commentator if I want. I have succeeded in keeping away quite a few criminals from my blog – not by blocking their comments but by sending them replies as private email messages.
Such transparency is required at all levels of human social transactions. Crimes can be controlled to quite an extent.
I am not totally against pseudonyms. There are people who write blogs on purely personal matters. In such cases anonymity is a necessity. Such writing is meant for personal catharsis and bear no social significance. Pseudonym or real name – it makes no difference to the society in such cases. But when somebody writes on issues related to social affairs and is keen on attacking others who disagree with him/her should reveal his/her identity. Otherwise the person is a coward and a potential criminal. Technology must interfere with the inception of transparency.