Friday, August 6, 2010

What's In a Name?

In textile areas, people identify each-other with names. In naturist areas, people also identify each-other with names. But, for a variety of reasons, naturists don't want their names in front of a textiled crowd. Names can be used to link people to their work, hobbies, or interests. Some of those may conflict with naturism.

One of the biggest challenges I've faced while blogging is the use of names. Some naturists have their full names (and sometimes pictures too) on all kinds of naturist websites. A search engine query makes it readily apparent that they are naturists and proud of it. Others only go by first names, which therefore obfuscates search results. Some may use fake names, and still others choose to never use a name at all. With all that said -- what name can I use if I'm writing about them?

I've tried all sorts of things. I started with generic phrases such as "my girlfriend", "nice couple", "ballroom couple", and "slightly-crazy 40 y/o motorcycler". I've heard complaints about NOT using names, as-if I don't really know the person. I've also heard complaints about continuing to use the phrase "my girlfriend" because people think it's somehow derogatory. Sorry, but she doesn't want to use her real first name on this blog. Her newly chosen name is Percilla.

When I started writing the Mazo Manor series, I opted to copy the Meerkat Manor TV show by giving people nicknames that somehow matched a unique trait. In all honesty, this worked great! Maybe even too great! I found it easier to remember the nicknames than the actual names. Which, of course, presents a problem when you want to call out their name at the beach. Also, I heard complaints about some of the names. They were never meant to be derogatory but some figured out a way to become offended.

More recently, I've been using "standard names" on a temporary per-post basis. Alice, Bob, Carol, Dave, Eve, and so on are commonly used in research papers instead of "Person A", "Person B" and so on down the alphabet. This worked fine for a few academic-style posts, but it recently broke when I tried to apply it to real people. The couple we met who were first named Alice and Bob became good friends, and the names have therefore become permanent.

So what should I do in the future?

The standard at most venues is to go first-name-only. The problem with first names is that other naturists know them, and therefore I shouldn't use real first names if I want to keep people as anonymous as possible.

Even if I switch up the names by assigning random ones, there may be some sort of false identity that arises. I describe a person with the name Alice, and it sounds like an Alice that you may know. That could end up bad.

People don't like real names, generic phrases, or nicknames. Standard names won't last long. I'm running out of options here...

Should I switch to assigning unique numbers, like the government? Hello, 123-456! Should I develop a cryptographic hash? Here's my friend, A4B3C2D1. Other blogs chop down names to only the first letter, so Alice would be called "A". I don't like any of these options either.

So what is your preference? I'm accepting any and all suggestions!


Brad said...

I like the nicknames that share attributes with the person's character or appearance. Let them be offended or let them select a new nickname for themselves.

Delfin Amante said...

When they do have a nickname and they use it in their online nudist avatar, I think it should be fine to use it. If not, anonymous names like Alice, Bob, etc. are fine, or if you know them well enough and they select a nickname (like she whose real name will not be mentioned here), use that name.

Seriously though ... Percilla? She should see this:

Josh Zytkiewicz said...

"But, for a variety of reasons, naturists don't want their names in front of a textiled crowd. Names can be used to link people to their work, hobbies, or interests."

I think this concern is pretty common in any group with actions or beliefs not shared by the majority. As an atheist and an artist that photographs artistic nudes I've seen similar discussions in those groups.

I wrote my thoughts about hiding identities on my blog last year.

To summarize, until the general public knows someone who is a naturist, an atheist, a nude photographer, etc they will continue to believe what we do is wrong. We have to stop hiding.

Academic Naturist said...

I had a suggestion via email to use Roman or Greek names, since very few people have names like those now. It's an idea that just might work!

Steve said...

Don't have any suggestions about names, D, but you sure stepped in it with Percilla!

Oh, and you can just keep calling us Angie and Steve. We're out there in so many places that anyone that wants to can figure out who we are.

We're 'out' but don't advertise, if you know what I mean.

One thing though, please don't refer to me as that-skinny-guy-who-got-a-little-chubby-then-got-really, really-skinny-then-picked-up-a-few-much-needed-pounds, ok?

Thanks, Slim!

Rick said...

The names issue hasn't come up in my blogging yet but it's something to think about. Things do get sticky and complicated when people try to keep part of their lives secret.

I like the idea of using Greek names (or even Latin). Someone is sure to be upset by that convention too. It seems that doing the right thing will always piss someone off.

I haven't had any issues with being open about naturism. I use my real name everywhere. As I often say, my life is an open book but some of the pages may be missing.