I am Armando

If you've ever spent any time at Daily Kos, you know who Armando is, and you know it ain't really me. For one thing, my user name there is the same as this blog, and my user id number is about half his. I've had my share of disagreements with him--slagfests a couple of times in fact--but it always ended amicably, and I respect the vigor with which Armando defends his positions.

Armando's going away now, because a right-wing site and a Daily Kos troll have decided to out him, and he's afraid of the way that will affect his outside life. He has reason to worry.

It is not possible to blog pseudonymously, not for long and be high-profile at least. Those who think otherwise are fooling themselves. Duncan Black got away with it for a long time over at Eschaton, but he came out eventually. South Knox Bubba left the blogging game completely after being outed--he's recently returned under his real name. Anyone who thinks they can hide who they really are while simultaneously building an internet presence--especially in the ugly world of political speech--is fooling him or herself. Pseudonyms only exist at the whim of those who respect them.

And if there's anything we've learned about the right-wing over the last five years, it's that when it comes to personal privacy, they respect nothing.

I hope Armando comes back and blogs some more. He's written some really brilliant stuff in the past and he's written some crap--the good more than outweighs the bad, by the way. But I wonder how much of the crap came out because he thought he was hidden? How many of the mean-spirited comments he made in the midst of a troll war came from the boldness of anonymity? I'd like to think that he'd post the same way regardless of who knew who he was, but I have to wonder.

Someone on Kos--wish I could find the post where I saw it--has a signature that reads "What happens on Kos, stays on google." Truer words never spoken. We don't often stop to consider that even if we go back and delete intemperate posts, that they survive in a cache somewhere, just waiting for someone to look us up. I've written some really harsh stuff here before, both on the blog and in the comments, and while I've regretted it, I've also had to own it. It's possible that it'll cost me one day. It already has, in one way.

See, a couple of years ago, I think, someone figured out my real name, and started posting the most horrific, left-wing caricature trash on right-wing websites. Stuff like this:

A hearty "good job" to those reporters. These cogs in the Bush war machine got what they deserved. I hope more are killed, sinking Bush's numbers. He thinks he is going to get a spike from the Reagan-bastards death.

I only found out about it because another right-winger emailed me and asked me why I wrote such terrible things. When I told him I didn't know what he was talking about, he sent me a link to a site where "I" had apparently written those atrocities and worse. I patiently explained to him that I have never posted to a website under my real name, that I always use the pseudonym. I don't know if he believed me--don't really care--but that incident drove home to me just how little names mean on the internet.

Online, we are all only electrons. We are less than pseudonyms. We are each other if we wish to be. Armando, come back when you can. For tonight, I am Armando.

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