I have been using pseudonyms online for years, for a variety of reasons (and while Cali is not my real name, sometimes it feels like it is, with how much I have done online under that name instead of my given name).
…We’re all supposed to cultivate our online personae nowadays — albeit carefully — right? But there remains a long list of reasons why people might prefer to use pseudonym online. Please read this Geek Feminism post to see who is harmed when we enforce a “real names” policy.
A lot of these arguments about pseudonymity come down to questions of safety. “Safety” can mean a number of things: job safety, privacy, avoiding stalkers, avoiding violence.
We talk a lot about the safety of students when it comes to their online behaviors. But it is often in terms of protecting students’ privacy, protecting them from cyberbullies and predators. Safety could (and should) also refer to providing students with a place in which they are free to express themselves, without the prying eyes of parents, teachers, future employers or college admissions officers, places where they can explore a multitude of identities — kids do that anyways, you know — as they figure out who they are, who they want to be.