Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Today, I found out I don't really exist!

Update: I want to make something abundantly clear, after reading some of the comments about this matter on Blue Oregon. The 98 people in my Facebook account KNOW ME, including my last name. Generally speaking, we have spent some time together IN PERSON. I don't accept anonymous invitations from people who I have NEVER physically met (with one or two exceptions). So, as far as Facebook goes, I AM NOT ANONYMOUS. I hope this is clear. I merely control who I am friends with and I generally restrict it to people I KNOW.

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

I want to just say something at the outset here. I bear no ill will towards BlueOregon or its proprietor Kari Chisholm. I wish the site nothing but success. Lord knows, we need more blogs for Progressives and Liberals and we need to value and protect the ones we got. We've already lost a few aspiring and fledgling Progressive blogger sites over the years here in Oregon so,... Godspeed man. Whatever.

However, as of today, apparently I am not welcome to post there. A while back, Kari made the decision to switch from anonymous comment posting to Facebook-verified posting. As a policy, I have no problem with this. Yes, it had the unfortunate effect of cutting down the number of posts by 2/3rds, easily, because many people are not on Facebook. The "old" Blue Oregon had so many commenters, there was absolutely no opportunity for discussing the issues. And then there was the problem of the anonymous "troll" flamers. Yes, it was as bad as any anonymous posting site you've ever seen, but I guess I wasn't so bothered by it because the sheer number of comments out numbered and overwhelmed such comments. But in the end, someone has to moderate all that, and I can see where Facebook-verified comments assists greatly in minimizing the work involved in comment moderation. The switch to Facebook-verified comments just makes sense from a practical standpoint. Here are BlueOregon's stated rules of participation.

However, Kari has more faith in Facebook and the Internet in general than I do, because when I mentioned in a post about Facebook that I keep much of my personal information on Facebook private, including my last name, Kari removed my posting privileges. I have been posting there as either Sonya Lee or ChickieBlue for the past 5 years. The reason he gave me (in an email response to me when I discovered I could not post) was: "We have a rule at BlueOregon -- we're requiring real identities for all commenters."

Real identities? On the Internet?

The lack of a "real identity" he is referring to is, of course, the fact that I freely admitted that I dropped my last name. Now, any internet security expert would tell you that, as a woman, this is only smart. Also, I have a business in my small town to protect. Plus I write this blog and another blog and I absolutely have a right to determine who knows me on the Internet. I also have a right to my views and I thought BlueOregon was a safe place to post them along with other people who shared my views. The fact that Kari could not ascertain that I was really "someone" based on my Facebook account strikes me as missing a point: I can be anybody I want. I can call myself anything I want. I can pretend to be anyone I want. I can open a Facebook account right now with a real-sounding last name and have my privileges restored without a question. Facebook does not legitimize the person I am. It does not lend its stamp of approval that I am a good person, a Liberal, a Conservative, a real person at all. I could have taken my husband's name when I married him, but I didn't. Facebook does not legitimize my marriage. No, I admitted that I omit my last name for the sake of my privacy and to protect other people in my family with the same last name. And for that, I am deemed as not using a "real identity".

Sonya Lee is my first and middle name. My parents gave me those names as a baby. When I was in trouble as a child, I knew it because my mother would address me as "Sonya Lee", and you knew a scolding was coming next. My friends and family on Facebook know my names. All of them. The ones I use on the Internet and the ones I don't. There is no reason that anyone posting on BlueOregon needs to know my last name. What matters more is my behavior while posting. I am consistent. I have never been disrespectful or flamed anyone. I am not a "troll", which was apparently the reasoning behind BlueOregon's switch to the Facebook verification. I had a two-hour lunch with one of the editors of BlueOregon last week, and I am friends with one of their regular contributing writers, who ironically also goes by a pseudonym. A real human being went to lunch last week, and a real human being regularly meets with the writer. But, hey, rules are rules. And "REAL" Fakebook identities are real identities.

But here is the thing: I have been Sonya Lee with a kitty avatar on the Internet for close to 2 years now. In lieu of telling the world my last name, I've effectively branded myself. I seldom change my avatar on Twitter and I almost never change my photo on Facebook because I want to be known and TRUSTED by that. That name and avatar is ALSO an identity. And these days on the Intenet, it is as much of an identity as knowing my name. Many people know me ONLY by my Internet identity and that is as much as they will ever know about me. They have learned to trust that I am presenting my ideas honestly here, on Facebook and on Twitter and on every blog where Sonya Lee and her kitty in the sink shows up and that a real human being stands by them, regardless of whether or not they know my last name or even my name at all. Hell, I have been using the nickname "bujeeboo" for 10 YEARS!

Is Blogger Sonya Lee any more or less credible than Sonya Lee with a last name on a Facebook account? In this day and age, is ANYONE who they say they are? And must we sacrifice our privacy (and even our personal safety) for the right to speak publicly?

Kari also said this to me in his e-mail: "Do let me know if you decide to do it differently, as I'll need to manually remove the block.". Decide to do it differently... I guess that means tell the world who I am "really" in order to post on BlueOregon. Sorry, Kari. I don't know you or anyone visiting your site well enough to tell you that information, Facebook accounts not-with-standing.


Anonymous said...

I thought I'd post a note here, as well as sending you an email, since your readers are probably wanting to know what this is about.

Earlier this year, BlueOregon's editors decided - after several years of deliberation - that we wanted to insist on real identities to comment. Not internet-identities, but real identities.

Why? Because we want commenters on BlueOregon should own their comments when they are walking down the street, visiting the local pub, meeting people in the grocery store, testifying at a public meeting, etc. There's a discipline that comes from knowing that your neighbors, co-workers, and family may be reading your comments. (And keep in mind that some 95% of our readers have never, ever commented.)

We determined that we had four options that were plausible:

* Only allow people that the editors personally know to comment. (Problem: Obviously, that makes for a very clique-ish blog.)

* Open an office and make people show IDs to get passwords. (Problem: expensive, intrusive, difficult to manage statewide.)

* Charge readers a $1 lifetime fee to get a commenting password. Intriguing because credit cards authenticate identity and location. (Problem: expensive to build, and despite low cost, it's a socio-economic barrier.)

* Use Facebook to authenticate commenters. Since you can't generally have friends on Facebook unless you use your real name, 99% of user accounts are entirely legit. (Problem: Not everyone is on Facebook, some people have privacy concerns, and it's not 100%.)

After some deliberation, we went with option #4. It's not perfect, but it's worked very well.

We endeavor to apply our rules uniformly - without regard to the ideological position of the commenter. And that's what's happened here -- no matter how much I, or the other editors, or our readers appreciate your comments on BlueOregon.

James Kiester said...

You know how I feel about it. BO's stance strikes me as being remarkably unprogressive, given they claim to advocate for liberal ideals. In the end though, BO's just one forum. You WILL still be heard, I'm sure of it.

p.s. I see you opened the blog with the Romeo & Juliet quote. Niiiiiiiiiiice. :-)

bodiegroup said...

Gee Kari... that sounds all honorable and all. Except the problem with that is that you do not apply the same rules to all commenters.

See TA Barnhart. I've noticed that you have not blocked TA. From my perspective your policy is not only flawed, wrong, and hypocritical, it's sexist.

bujeeboo said...

Hi Kari,

Sorry for the delay in posting. For some reason, your comment went to spam and Blogger doesn't really make those comments obvious to me.

I will just let your response post, without further comment from me. You stated your case well. I just don't agree with it.

ErinPDX said...

I don't even read BO anymore as a result of this silly new rule. You are so right on all of this. There are plenty of people who don't use their real names on FB. So, you were honest about your fake last name and Kari banned you...what about all the other people with fake names on FB that get away with it over there?

And finally, I get the idea that Kari did not grow up in ORYGUN because he cannot pronounce it correctly. He says OR "uh" gun, not the correct ORYGUN. He really needs to read up on the history of the spelling, ORYGUN, and why "we" students at UO created it during the 1970's.

bujeeboo said...

Hi James,

I could have also gone with the Bard's To Be or Not to Be quote:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

But then the rest goes on about dying, and ceases to be relevant.

bujeeboo said...


I will consider myself educated on Orygun. HAHA! It turns out my mid-Western-raised-Mom-turned-Oregonian says it correctly just by the effect of her regional dialect!

I have much to learn from the Natives in my new state (I am originally from California).

ErinPDX said...

bujeeboo, welcome - hope to meet you sometime. I lived in the Bay Area after college for a few years, finally got a job up here & opportunity to move back in 1990. Loved CA though - just too spendy and crowded.

bujeeboo said...

Nice to meet you too, ErinPDX. You sort of prove my point too. The Progressive community is relatively small and clannish in the Metro area. Chances are GREAT that I could end up meeting everyone in this comment section, including Kari. Yet, I haven't crossed a hurdle to post on BO. It's arbitrary.

Janissary said...

As long as you hide, you are doing nothing to help free females. You do us all a disservice (yes, us, I am 59 and female and progressive and live in a very conservative town in the Columbia Gorge).

I have been threatened on blogs and in person by neighbors and by the Mayor for speaking my mind. I have proudly held my head high, talked to reporters, talked to my City Council and written to the local paper, all while signing my name - all of it.

If you are that scared to produce your true self and name, then I'm afraid they have all ready won.

I just don't agree with you. I see you as a coward and wonder why so many of our female kindred stood proudly to give us the vote and freedom to choose what we do with our bodies and our lives to just see you squander their bravery. I notice you indulge in comment moderation, so I am forced to use a previously set-up Google identity, so I shall sign my name below.

Your reasoning is good, it just comes from a fearful stance. That's not how a 21st century freewoman lives.

Katelin Stuart

bujeeboo said...

Katelin (if that is your real name... sorry couldn't resist)

I have a business in my small town and our company supports Fortune 100 companies, some very conservative. Anywhere from 6 to 10 consultants work for us at any given time. That's 6 to 10 families who depend on my business. So, before you come on blog, and attack and call me a coward, you should consider that there may be other people to protect.

I know a female blogger who not only had her life threatened, but was also told by her "stalker" that she knew where here children went to school and NAMED the schools. Something tells me you don't have children or you wouldn't come on another woman's blog and call her a coward.

I don't want to know some people and I don't want them to know me. THAT'S MY CHOICE. Why don't you go to Blue Oregon where "real" people like you are welcome.

bujeeboo said...

Hey, Katelin. Read what happened to this "21st Century" female blogger:


I will point out the Kathy Sierra was a TECH blogger.

bujeeboo said...

Uh Katelin. Yeah. I found you on the Internet. You ran for public office in Cascade Locks. That's a CHOICE you made.

Don't you dare come on here and call me a coward again.

Janissary said...

Wow, three answers in a row. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Amazing that that you assumed that what occurred in the past six months is all you know about me. It doesn't even occur to you that I moved here four years ago from California and some of the experiences I mentioned have been over my lifetime. You can Google one of my friends, Judy Bari and see what happened to her. Didn't stop me.

You are a coward. Even more so in that you waited a full 24 hours to respond, and then had to answer me and to respond in such haste that you needed three posts.

Good luck trying to show some backbone, little one. I really don't think you're mature enough to take criticism. Daring someone is a very childish act, assuming they don't have children is prejudicial, and bragging about your business is declasse.

bujeeboo said...

Waited a full 24 hours to respond? Lady, it's the holidays. I have family here. Get a life. Something I suspect you don't have.

I wasn't bragging about my business. I was trying to tell you that there are other people to consider. If something happened to hurt my business because of something I said, other people would be effected.

Look, it's obvious you are a bitter old hippie pie-wagon. Roll your shit some place else, "lady". YOU are exactly why I am anonymous. Thanks for confirming my choices.