About You

That’s me smiling at you, in my Gravatar.  That’s my real name, responding to your comments.  And I never have, nor will I ever use, a pseudonym. Or a cloaked ISP number.  What’s your name?  If it’s Anonymous, or a nom de plume, why?  What are you afraid of?  Why do you do it?  I have recently been greatly wounded by a false identity on the internet, so it has caused me to think deeply on the motives underlying this common practice.

My husband was at first reluctant to agree to such full disclosure on this blog, fearing such transparency put our family at greater risk to intrusions into our privacy.  And he is right, it does.  But he is willing to take that risk, God bless him, because he saw how passionately I believed that the anonymity the Internet allows is not good for civil discourse, as it gives permission for strangers to vent;  much like the anonymity of the highway gives license to a  driver for acts he would never consider outside of his brief passing  in the side mirror of another car.  Road rage and  internet flaming are very like.

My friend Ian Vincent posted this on his wonderful blog, What Does ANONYMOUS or Fake Identity Mean on the Internet?

“It does mean that they don’t want any real fellowship, which means, at best, they are very immature and not qualified to teach the Body of Christ or function as an Elder.  It does mean they are avoiding being accountable, therefore they are emboldened to say wrong things bcos they think that no one will find out who they really are. It very likely means they are hiding something.  It could mean their spiritual life is more fantasy than reality.  It could mean that they think that if you found out they are just a normal Christian like you, with all the normal faults, imperfections and struggles,  then you would not be interested in them nor honor them as a great spiritual giant.” *

That says it all doesn’t it?  Now, I won’t  delete your comments if you post under another name;  this is merely a friendly exhortation, a nudge for you to think, and prayerfully consider, becoming more real.  Some of the people I greatly respect on the internet  use pseudonyms.  But I won’t trust entirely the words you say until you choose to stand up and use your own given name.   I understand the nakedness of your name, of who you are, splayed out for all to see on the blogpage.  I will never forget my feelings seeing “Karen Butler” the first time I ever posted a comment.  I felt the vulnerability of it  so keenly.  I said, “Must I really, Lord?”  He gently reminded me, yet again, that the fear of man is a snare, and I must fear Him so much more than the ridicule of men.

*Read more of Ian’s  great stuff, including his comments expanding on this topic, here:     http://ianvincent.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/what-does-anonymous-or-fake-identity-mean-on-the-internet/  He is indeed a realbrother, I have him in my favorites.   He is very accountable and open to scrutiny for his words and his work as a missionary in India.

8 Comments on “About You”

  1. ianvincent Says:

    We appreciate yours and your husband’s friendship and fellowship in Jesus, dear sister, and rejoice in the truth with you.

    In regards to your post here endorsing me, let me just affirm what i know you already know, that Jesus Christ holds the copyright on TRUTH, and He being the TRUTH of God, anything which is the TRUTH of God must have it’s source in Jesus.

    Yes, so we are very honored, as ex-reprobates, to be given the TRUTH as a stewardship to faithfully declare, until the day of accounting.

    God bless you and yours dear sister.

  2. mkayla Says:

    Hi. I never knew this was here until just now. I am always so happy to read anything from you. It is odd because I was just thinking of that hidden/many identity person yesterday. I’ve been wondering since one of our first conversations if you would ever approach writing on that experience. You and Ian were both great helps to me when I was trying to figure all of that out back then. Now we are pals. 🙂

    I had a similar experience earlier this week when someone I knew from my previous church came on my blog. It was a very ugly experience. But she too wanted to hide her identity once she realized I knew who she was. I think she was more concerned about her reputation than anything else.

    I see it like this – the Lord sees everything, so why hide who we are on the blog? Besides, what makes a person think they are so important or special that they need to hide? PRIDE?

    Well my dear poet friend it is nice to “see” you again. My husband has been writing some music and I’ve been considering some lyrics, inspired by YOU.

    Love and blessings for all you do. I think of your table often. 🙂

  3. Karen Butler Says:


    Someday I will write about it, when I have it all sorted out, I do not think I properly understand it yet. I had something many months ago, that I was mulling over in my mind, something I even thought was “from the Lord”, but RH had some wise counsel about it and I dropped it. I think of that whole debacle with such sadness now. How I love that dear sister and grieve for her situation. I do pray often for her and her family. You and Ian helped me so much as well, giving proper perspective of it. I was getting obsessed, trying to figure out motivations, which is not my place. But I think you are right, pride is certainly part of that one’s downfall, and it makes me shudder, knowing my own heart. The glory of God must be our only concern, not defending our own position in His kingdom.

    Thank you for being such a good and encouraging friend. I needed your sweet comments just now. I’d love to see the lyrics, when you finish; I never thought I could inspire anybody!

  4. Hi Karen.

    Why do I use a “pseudonym”?

    When I came across my very first forum I saw that most participants used pseudonyms, but when I registered I did so under the abbreviation of my real name “TimS” but found myself being confused with other people called “Tim”, especially another poster who started using the name “Tim8”.

    After a while I tried to avoid that confusion by re-registering under the name “Onesimus” – a biblical runaway slave who had been returned to his master. That perfectly described my own experience.
    I have never intended to hide behind that name and I use it in all forms of internet communication including my three blogs (one specifically Christian in content, one mainly devoted to gardening, and the other to literature).

    When others have brought up the same issue about pseudonyms I have realised that using my own name would give no more insight into who I am than using the name “onesimus”. I have been known as “onesimus” for over five years and to post under any other name now (even my own name) would achieve nothing of value but could cause confusion.

    I see the practice as being no different to someone being known by a nickname. When I first met my wife I only knew her by her nickname for the first year of our friendship – and today almost twenty years later my family STILL call her by that name and never use her real name.

    Tim Smith

    Thanks again Karen for commenting on my blog. I have now written a lengthy reply.

    See http://onefiles.blogspot.com/2009/12/solution-to-all-doctrinal-error-last.html

  5. Karen Butler Says:

    “When others have brought up the same issue about pseudonyms I have realised that using my own name would give no more insight into who I am than using the name “onesimus”.”

    That is an interesting insight, and I think you are right that the psuedonyms that bloggers use give fascinating looks into their hearts–where your online name is there your heart will be also. But I think what Ian, in particular, is addressing is the issue of accountability, especially as it relates to those who set up their shingle as a Watchman.

    I love your online name, Useful servant! And you have been useful in the hands of God, certainly as iron sharpening iron, for me!

  6. Christina Says:

    I just wanted to say thanks for the comments you left on my article at TGC yesterday. Until I develop thicker skin, I’ve decided not to respond to comments:) I appreciated your wisdom and insight. Oh and I’m a homeschooling mom too:)

    • Karen Butler Says:

      I have a pretty thin skin, too. You should have seen the first drafts. Or do you moderate comments, and saw what I asked to be deleted?

      Ah, me! I couldn’t look back on the thread for the longest time.

  7. […] to you in my next blogpost, but here is where it Gets Real.  There are good reasons to have but limited respect for anonymous commenters on the Internet. A friend of mine named Ian Vincent, equally harmed by anonymity on the Internet, wrote these wise […]

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