Nym Wars

The Nym Wars rage on, well, some are raging, others offering an astute commentary on the whole saga.
Botgirl has certainly produced a staggering array of both witty and insightful tweets, posters and posts on the subject….. and earns a Girl Crusader badge, at least.

I first came across Botgirl’s work almost three years ago and I was interested because she had thoughts on avatar identity (as I did)…. although she tends to be more concise than me. The fact that she has involved herself in this current mess at G+ is no surprise as it is the front line in a battle for identity.

I believe we should all take this very seriously indeed, related as it is to Miso Susanowa’s work too on the Politics of Information, State of Mind, and the continuing erosion of our rights.

Recently I have started to think that this is a lot about culture, and tried to start to put some ideas on paper about this aspect of the Nym Wars. I now believe that it is a fully fledged Culture War, many wars are basically one culture trying to impose it’s moral/cultural stance on another.

Relatively soon after joining SL I remember being very offended by a Brooklyn is Watching sign and writing a mini rant about it. The rant was not very clear or concise… the sign said… Do something “here” and “you” will be watched, thought about and commented on… whatever…leave “something” “here” and it will be cronicaled [sic] on our blog.… Now, it was the speech marks, the inverted commas that drove me nuts.

One possibility is that they guy that wrote the sign was uneducated, but, more likely the use of the term …“you”… actually expressed how he felt about avatars. I doubt that he would have said …..I’ve just been speaking to my “brother” on the phone…. for example, but there was obviously a sort of unauthorised entity in the “you” he left the message for.

OK…so…this is old stuff? Well, not really, I think that a good number of people who are fighting for pseudonymity to “just go away” would also have called us “you”…..or think of us as “you”….as I rather clumsily tried to say on my previous rant, surely “you” is an oxymoron.

So we come again to this question of cultures, those of us that spend a lot of time immersed in virtual communities and with online friends do not think we have “friends” online. There is no Reality Hierachy, and that I think is the cultural difference between the Real Fools and Us.

It now seems that G+ is having internal nymwars too and seeking to resolve the issue, possibly by some people being labelled as More Authentic and others as Lesser Human, or some such device. The cultural difference will remain, however.

There is no doubt that, for some, the Other person presents a threat. They are like a Black Hole of consciousness because we cannot control what will be emitted from the Other or what they are thinking. The Other is basically beyond our control, and some people are threatened by that. The seemingly idiotic idea that we will know more by knowing more names, or specific names, or names we like, is born surely of fear…..(possibly greed).

If I am happy in myself and a reasonably balanced person, meeting humans online, however they name themselves, has to be fascinating experience and one of the reasons I pay my ISP.

Naming has mystical origins and, in adult life, we will not be named by others without our full consent.




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6 responses to “Nym Wars

  1. Nice post. It just occurred to me that there is a parallel to the Nymwars situation with atomic work integration and segregation around race, religion, sexual preference, ethnicity, etc. Some of my virtually-identified friends try to keep their social networks exclusively Nymish. Quite a few have posted that they only like avatars in their networks. But although I can understand why people might choose to be surrounded by those that accept them, I think it also makes sense to go out an interact with those who might not “get it”. Because it will only be through becoming exposed to us through our posts and interactions that they’ll realize we aren’t freaks (well, not most of us) and perhaps learn to appreciate identity diversity.

  2. The Other is basically beyond our control, and some people are threatened by that.

    This is exactly why the Information Revolution and the nets are threatening to many in power – there’s no control. Information wants to be free and will find a way. Nymwars are just the tip of an iceberg and the first real flexing of the net’s political awareness and power. I am excited to see it; I’ve waited a long time for it.

  3. @ Botgirl I agree, Ghettos aren’t anyone’s ideal community, surely.
    It’s a great big melting pot…(etc 60’s lyrics), or should be….

  4. @miso .. I agree, those in power are always frightened of the Mob and the Genius, and controlling those is their prime aim…. but I think they will lose in this case…. eventually.

  5. Kai Dracon

    (Referenced via Botgirl)

    Thoughts are interesting in the context of a public G+ discussion this morning in which one of those people “afraid of the Other” rather viciously used the ability to report “fake names” to literally silence a person who disagreed with him in that thread. The man who used that ultimate underhanded tactic even performed some detective work on the silenced individual, posting their address, and phone number, for the internet to see and begin harassing them.

    Mind you, the man responsible for this seems full of bluster and pride at his very Real Name, his photo, and the fact that he’s a “grown up”. A “real man” unlike all these fake people who can’t be trusted.

    In the same thread, another person of that ilk revealed a bit more of the psychology by referencing what was claimed to be the gold standard in online social networking: the paid, closed, gated community of only 4000 members called “The WELL”. This, seems to be the claim, is the pattern that should be imposed on all Serious Social Networks for Real Humans.

    In my view, much of it is based on greed and the desire for control. Just as “report profile as win button” is being invoked in Google discussions, and by people who imagine they have the unassailable moral high ground. Many people afraid of those with names they don’t see as “real” appear to have stayed out of, and away from, the vast bulk of the Internet. They don’t grasp the evolving culture here. They don’t really understand why most people participate in it. For them, the Internet is best used as a text-based telephone system, and even then only for “making calls” to people they already know and have shaken the hand of in person.

    For them, the Internet really is just “a bunch of anonymous trolls ruining everything”.

  6. @Kai, absolutely. The cultural divide is becoming more noticable.

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