Friday, 5 August 2011

Culture Shift ? ... unlikely

One of the three main definitions of the word Culture by Wikipedia: 'The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group' is the particular Culture I want to muse about here.

A culture evolves often around a group of users and has the effect of tying them together as a loose sort of social glue. The most apparent to us in everyday life is a shared dress code or subset of the native language, slang and jargon connected to music/youth culture. Many of us know people who modified their personality when they were youths, punks, rockers, new romantics etc etc... and they hold onto a vestige of this group identification into old age. It has been assimilated into their personality. They regard it as a part of 'who I am'.

Culture across even larger groups has even less tendency to change than this. I still see young punks with flamboyant cock-comb haircuts in London, 40 years after they first appeared....(on young people). Culture has an inbuilt inertia, as every type of culture aspires towards a Tradition, which seems to be the 'next step up' from a culture.

I have been thinking about this in relation to nicknames, nyms, handles because of the obvious attempt by G+ and FB to stop this practice of naming oneself.

I have not been able to determine the first historic use of a nick name though in musing upon the question it struck me that leaders, children, Gods and the Devil in particular may have been some of the first to have acquired nick names as the power of the Name was not to be used lightly. In Norwegian one also says 'a precious child has many names'.

Army buddies, work mates, lovers, leaders are all subject to the rather intimate renaming process of being given nicknames and some of these can stick for a whole life and be adopted by the person concerned if they add something to how that person is perceived i.e. status.

Short-wave radio users are a group of people who thrive on the use of Handles, it is a major part of the culture which has spread to people who ring in to radio stations with traffic reports and, recently, the Internet. These names are unique which is one of their obvious advantages.

The use of nyms by the first set of internet users is based, I believe, partly on this historic culture of radio handles, and has this cohesive effect of tying together pioneers in a new medium. The added security advantages are obvious and well documented elsewhere.

As I stated earlier culture has an inborn resistance to change. So the current attempts by a few people to change this are likely to have a problem, ... or three.

One problem is that their motive is purely to make more money ... that has no intrinsic moral or financial benefit to me.

Secondly, their security is not being put at risk.

..and lastly, but probably the most important is the fact that this ability I have to rename myself in a style and fashion that relates to the culture I aspire to is a freedom that I am unlikely to relinquish for the projected benefits of joining G+, or FB.

My parents named me, being pressurised into using my parents choice of name is always going to appear like a retrograde step on my continuing path to Individuation and is doomed to fail.



  1. the gods gave me my secret name when i was born and it must be kept secret at all cost otherwise i will come to great harm.

  2. I agree with Wizzy and im Mera at heart regardless of what my parents came up with. They didnt know my true soul when I was an infant anyhoo =)

  3. @ Wizzy, drat mine is written down here somewhere along with 10,000 passwords....

    @mera, you will always be Mera to us...

    @ Bradd, yes all my readers are cultured....

  4. I've bonded with my pseudonym long ago and I use it for my online activity. G+ and FB are not a good enough reason to alter that bond.

  5. There were several reasons to use a handle when I first logged on to a BBS. The first was technical: most name fields at that time could only accept 8 alpha-numeric characters. Just like vanity license plates now, you tried to be creative and descriptive in those constraints. You might have your wallet name attached as a "sig" or footer on your forum or email posts.

    The other was, of course, security.

  6. Ah, OK... it's funny it feels like a step backwards... I feel like my parents are telling me off.
    It'll be interesting to see how much of a split this causes. The WoW players were all very angry when they got asked for real names ..last year was it...

  7. Interesting that Amazon or the Apple Store or Adobe or Blurb or almost any place where you shop or spend money on the internet don't demand that you set up the account in your real name. Nor does Paypal or Skype or, or, or ......You can open a bank account in another name so long as you are not using it for illegal purposes. So.....the reason for demanding real names 'to make more money' doesn't make sense. Almost none of my on-line accounts where I make purchases or spend money has my real identity.