Carolina is a veil.
If you have been online more than ten years, and especially more than fifteen, you will probably view most of what I’m going to write as nothing much and no big deal. And this is because in the older days of the internet, people sort of instinctually stumbled into the realization that just using your “real name” or “legal name” everywhere you went online wasn’t really enough to avoid personality disintegration and blurring of social boundaries due to it being so easy online to exceed the natural limits of the monkeysphere, the 150 or so “slots” for real connection most people max out at.
It may not seem like it, but there has always been a real distinction between “Janet Adkins” and “jadk”. What I’ve used in the title “facet management” is just one way that simply using initials in one forum and full names in another allow people to juggle the fact that the internet can easily take all your monkeysphere slots if you let it. But minor shifts in the direction of a pseudonym (like dropping down to just initials) can provide just enough distance to save slots for offline and minimize attaching too easily and intensely to people you can only ever have an epistolary connection to.
So many people who have been using the internet for decades have pseudonyms they shift between, showing facets of themselves, but not the whole jewel. It is not about hiding anything in these cases, in fact the people themselves will often allude to or link to their numerous pseudonyms if it’s relevant to a discussion (“Oh yeah, I went off-topic on that car forum with this post about the space race, yeah, I’m fiatfan in that thread.”) It’s about a veil of distance to talk about certain things in certain ways, just enough space to have discussion.
Carolina is a veil. She is a veil to grant emotional distance from the real struggle in my life, which is raising very gifted, very challenging children in a society that has undergone major demographic changes as to which women have kids and is in utter denial about what it means in terms of the type of children that produces.
My marriage is traditional. I don’t say much about my wifehood because there is little to say about a healthy, longstanding marriage where husband and wife are in traditional accord regarding hierarchy and authority. I don’t write much about what’s working great and doesn’t have problems. And that’s my wifehood.
But mothering is hard. It’s so far outside what T.W.O. and I know from our own childhoods and even from some of the people we know raising children right now that a veil is needed. There’s just too much emotion there and immediacy. Translating some of the things that have happened with the kids into Carolina’s voice has granted me some very precious distance and sense of comfort. When I can stand back behind that frail veil, I can see that it’s not so bad, that we can all pull through, that my kids will probably be okay.
But if I was fool enough to think that I had to use one of my legal names (marriage pretty much gives all women two) for every single word I wrote that was public-viewable, I wouldn’t be able to escape the feeling that it was too much. I can pull back and have a rational perspective about child development while still sharing what are complex experiences worth revealing to other mothers whose own children may have a few things in common with mine.
Even offline, people kind of understand this because nicknames exist. It’s pretty clear that while some people are naughty and use pseudonyms to pretend to be something they aren’t (classic examples are the men pretending to be women), this isn’t the normal and typical use, which is why those tricks still work to this day. Most pseudonyms are about showing a piece of your personal self online, enough to have a conversation and maybe a little more depending on the goals of the online group (like possibly meeting up and taking things offline as friends/peers/etc.), but not so much that you can’t withdraw and still have plenty of slots left in the old monkeysphere.
That’s all. If you want to pretend it’s 1997, you are free to discuss further in the comments. All of this used to be regular meta fodder, lol.