Facet display and monkeysphere management with pseudonyms online

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.


Another itty bitty post, about male office misbehavior in the past.

I started a series on the history of pornography use among the generations of American men and I haven’t got round to writing up the second part fully.

But in the middle of a discussion with T.W.O. about the Boomer bashing on the alt-right and wider right, he mentioned that male office workers were displaying the early version of graphic pornography on their computers.  That is, that Boomer women in the workforce maybe had some reasons for being so strident about male chauvinism.  The personal computer revolution, and resulting private access to scandalous material led to men breaking what were previously obvious and unwritten rules of mixed-sex office propriety.

It’s kind of also fodder for my Greater Nerd Theory, since it was men being aggressively anti-social in computer and tech companies.


Frontier culture was always synthetic

This provided a glue that held the otherwise insane circumstances of frontier life together, but it was a brittle, fragile glue.

McGuffey readers, civic nationalism and the proposition nation are just a few of the synthetic components of this glue.  The original McGuffey readers were meant to educate young children in Scottish Presbyterian Christian faith, but this was rapidly subverted to promote a more generic and secular “civic nationalism” that remains the backbone of the eternal minority party, the Republicans.  Those readers, with their essentially national, limited but accessibly standardized curriculum also presaged the beginnings of credentialism and what progressives eventually snagged and remolded into “meritocracy”.

There’s also the fact that no matter how primitive the living conditions, frontier people were always reliant on what was sometimes very cutting edge and what was also pretty expensive technology to live out there at all.  The money-sink rail system, the agricultural machines, even the coal burnt out on the prairie.

Traditions formed, such as they were, were consumerist with a gloss of patriotism.


In which Dalrock and Deep Strength reject the reality of the College Funnel

These two posts are actually interesting because they’re close, but their own ideological blinders make them miss that the cognitive sort has led to *most kids being the children of smart people*. As well as *the elites totally care about marriage, because now simply being married is a marker of economic separation*.

Class in America has changed and has different division lines. Married people are the new upper middle class. That wasn’t true before the 1960s, but it has become true since wages stagnated in the 1970s.

A substantial minority of people dealt with the wage stagnation by partnership marriages where mom got more and more higher education and could be a much bigger backup/co-earner than in the past.  This allowed that group to capture, over time, some of the productivity gains in real income and married people began to break away as a distinct class by the 1980s.  Once you adjust for what was available to buy in the 1970s and 1980s, it’s clear that the upper middle class rapidly became the married class within less than a generation.

Technological advances also allowed a cognitively unusual slice of the population to have significantly more economic success and consequently marital and reproductive success.

This is just something the right has to deal with.  Marriage is not by default the province of hardworking poorish people.  This is a common right-wing trope/meme/narrative, but it hasn’t been true for a long time, including when many of the people spreading it were newly married.  And it leads conservatives and generically right wing married people into weird and not-useful places by denying that there’s been a big shift upwards for the “average” married couple, particularly those with children under 18.

As I already posted, there are 21-22 million married couples out of 57 million who have six-figure household incomes.  This is not an “elite”.  At the 75k level that is effectively six-figure in many parts of the country, that’s another 9 million households.  30/57 is more than half of married households making 6500 dollars a month or more.

There’s only 125 million households in America.

Also, while the numbers are sadly still high, unwed childbearing is decreasing steadily.  Married childbearing is on the increase at the higher birth orders, astonishingly.

All the “stuff” that goes into raising kids today is not frivolous once you look at the actual conditions we’ve all let happen for various reasons.  And wrapping oneself up in an illusion that nothing’s really changed in terms of what’s needed to be a functional married family is part of why the list of stuff is so long.

Poking at the large family myth bubble.

As anyone reading along in this blog or the broader American right wing knows, there is a loud contingent of people who assert that in America, large families used to be common as dirt and women loved having them too.

This is not, strictly speaking, accurate.

The Vital Statistics folks (originally at the Census, and now with the CDC) stopped making a new column for births past #17 in 1959. The next year, in 1960, while still in what came to be called the Baby Boom, they stopped doing new columns for births above #8. And the Vital Statistics people are very conservative about these things. They were cheerfully making columns for 312 16th births for years. But 312 out of 4 million or so births a year is a really tiny number and eventually even they just started mushing all those ten and twelfth and seventeenth births together.

The point being that thousands of double digit births can still be happening, but still also be not common as dirt. Pesky math.

The other poke at the bubble for now is that as soon as American women got birth control access, they mysteriously rushed as far away from double digit family sizes as they could. Eight was very much enough, thanks, and keeping births down to six or less was nicer still, as far as white American women were concerned. There is some amusing (for a personal value of amusing) commentary in many of the annual bulletins expressing statistician puzzlement at the plunge in 8 and up births among white women about twenty seconds after the first shipload of diaphragms washed ashore. And while access came decades later for black women, they behaved exactly the same and kablooey went the higher order black birth numbers too.

This is not the behavior of women who looooooved having ten or fifteen kids. It’s also not really much to do with feminists or feminism except that they felt the solution to male sexual incontinence was to have women end run around it with birth control of ever-increasing reliability.

The fungibility of frontier females

One of the woes of American women is the influence, not to the good, of frontier culture.  To sprinkle some evolutionary psychology sprinkles on it, on the frontier, women are fungible and men are individual.  Women are not strictly needed to cook, as the camp-style cooking is easy enough to learn and frontier life made hunger-spice the only one really needed.

There was also less opportunity for domestic niceties in setting up a home, since you were talking about stuff like slapped up shacks, lean-tos and dugouts to hold a claim.  They were all meant to be pretty temporary.

Although many frontier women had large families, children’s labor was not as needed either, as during much of the frontier era the homesteaders were on the cutting edge of using as much technology and machinery as possible to minimize how many people they had to share the hoped-for wealth with.  So even in that respect women were more fungible, as plenty of men were bachelor-homesteading.

Frontier culture is anti-domestic, and not terribly encouraging of feminine strengths beyond basic endurance and willingness to do repetitive labor under brutalizing conditions.  And the descendants of frontier culture still treat women as fungible. And this influence has made it much more difficult for women’s strengths and desires to be taken seriously as part of a complete, functional society.

Introducing civic natalism

“The early 20th century was the summit of civilization and human accomplishment.”

I think there is a good argument to be made for that statement. However, that is not quite what this post is about.

It’s about the worldview I’ve adopted as I’ve come to appreciate and learn more about that era of human history, a mere century or so ago. I discussed the idea that this blog was a way to work out an alternative to Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option, and now I think I’ve got a grasp on what that alternative is.

Civic natalism.

This post is just an introduction to the phrase as concept.  Civic natalism was what a surprising number of Americans had a century ago, but it was an effect.  We can look at what they had access to that we don’t have now and the goal is to find out how we can have those things in a modern society.  Theirs was atomized and global, too, they were the vanguard of globalism.  Natalism also is about more than just maxing your pregnancy numbers, it’s about making it possible for motherhood to be something fully human, so women don’t want to reject the natural outcome of marital intimacy.

They had the following:

  • Large casual labor pool, particularly of women.  This means that there were maids and nannies and cooks, but it means so much more than that.  It means that you could pay people to do a lot of normal things and lend occasional assistance.
  • No commuting. The commuting was, mostly, the long-distance travel type, which human societies have developed a lot of tools to deal with.  It typically wasn’t the hurry up and wait tension that daily commuting tends to put onto people.  It is very possible to reduce commuting, but a deeper analysis of commuting patterns with an eye towards family improvement and cohesion is needed.
  • Rational autonomy for children. This means society is structured so that children take as much responsibility for themselves as possible, appropriate to their age.
  • Advocacy for feminine leisure.  

Starts are always rocky, so I’ll just conclude with this.  I’ve finally secured enough readable copies of Gene Stratton-Porter’s non-fiction nature books and essays that I will resume a publishing order review of her work in the coming weeks. She was a fascinating example of civic natalism, even though she herself had only one child.  Her entire career as a housewife who wrote bestsellers and spent hours in nature studies that are a direct line to the Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan strain of environmentalism and farming is an Ur-example of what civic natalism can provide when “just” a side effect of wider social norms.  She was also an influential advocate for other women to have better homemaking conditions and society-wide support.

And yes, there will be some commentary about the politics of civic natalism.  They intersect with how the right wing in America used to have a pretty good deal for bright women to be housewives and how they threw it away.  But those same politics also intersect with radical feminist policy ideas about how to support motherhood.  To summarize those future posts, let’s just say Phyllis Schlafly was a radical feminist when it came to motherhood.

Blew my mind, too.