But for better or worse, I decided to go the real name route this time.
The result is that I end up commenting on a lot less time-wasting content (and subsequently reading less because I know I won't participate in the discussion and reading often opinionated comments without participating will just frustrate me), and putting more thought into the responses I do post.
That's not to say that I think there's anything necessarily wrong with the anonymity. Sometimes it's nice to give voice to something you otherwise wouldn't because your opinion is controversial or unpopular (and doing business online, one has to protect one's online reputation and what ends up in the search engines). For me, though, it's translated to less time spent on useless AMA/AskReddit posts, more time spent on meaningful discussion, and less time on the site overall. All of these are good things.
My pseudonym is my authentic identity on Reddit, just as it is here on HN. A while ago I was using one identity here on HN and for one reason or another, some people didn't like what I had to say (even though personally I was very authentic) so they down-voted me so much that my score went in to negative, and I ended up deleting my account and recreating a new one. I have still not given up on being authentic under pseudonym.
The point is that you have to believe in the conversation - gaining and imparting knowledge - and not worry about the fluff and the other distraction of the Internet. The trend to have real names on the Internet, the trend to have face on the Internet....these are all distractions as far as I am concerned.
As long as we are typing and reading each other through letters and words, we don't need to see each others' names and pictures. It would be a different matter when we converse through video and audio.
That's certainly both good and bad.
The negatives, in my case, were that I would end up getting into discussions over trivial topics, or would end up reading tons of comments, some good, some bad, and comment on them just because I could.... For example, if I disagreed with you, I would tell you, event hough most of the time it was over things that just weren't worth the time and effort of getting into a debate with a random stranger over.
On the other hand, posting anonymously also gave me freedom to talk at length about things that matter to me but maybe aren't the best things to go talking about using my real name when everything is indexed in a search engine (politics, religion, etc.). I'll certainly stand up for what I believe in, but in cases like a potential client who may be looking me up on Google, my religious views, for instance, shouldn't be the first thing they find. It's just irrelevant in a work relationship 99% of the time.
So making the switch to my real name, I did lose some of that freedom, and one could argue that this is a bad thing, but for me, the constraints it places on the types of discussions I'm willing to have means better time management and (overall) more thoughtful responses when I do respond. I suppose if there was a real hot-button issue that I felt compelled to comment on, I would create a throw away account and do so, but sticking with my real identity forces me to think and evaluate those situations more closely before doing so.
So upon that realization, I kept using the platforms where pseudo-identities are welcome and not frowned upon and I can be transparent where I feel comfortable. It is similar to being in an environment where I can speak on any matter on my own terms and not anyone else'. So when I acquire an avatar/identity for a site, I make sure that I use that avatar/identity with full honesty.
The people who use pseudo-identity to gratify their egos and to be abusive towards their freedom of anonymity, are basically being dishonest with themselves and everyone else. I think one can be anonymous and still be authentic. Each one of us have multiple compartments from which we operate and live our lives and we are always evolving and changing as person. Google Plus team and Mark Zuckerburgs would wrongly want you to believe otherwise.
It is just so that Internet as a whole is not a trust-worthy place so you have to pick and choose how and where you participate, and we have to be able to do it on our terms.