Blogging and women in Afghanistan
5.7 Pseudonym and Creating New Identities
160 5.6 Self-Censorship in Blogging
With the increase in age, new positions in life, family relations, education and knowledge, Job and career, change in social and political conditions the blogger will be affected. For example, with the increase of human‘s age, his or her view and perspective of life differs and that will for sure influences the way he writes. Even the type of audience has an effect on writing style, when a huge number of audiences are interested in a particular topic; they expect their view to be honored. The political and social conditions of the country also influence a blogger constantly and these conditions push the blogger to self-censorship.
In conversation with many of the bloggers such as: The shout, Tea & Suitcase, The journey (Personal interview, 22 November 2014), they reveal that they write less of pain and sorrow when they receive the response from their audiences. In an interview with some of these bloggers they state that every day they feel more and more responsible towards their audiences since they know the majority of them are young people and women and they do not even write when they feel depressed and disappointed since they do not wish their writing to reflect their negative attitude and add any burden on their audiences.
A blogger called ―Sahar‖ says: I deliberately and consciously write of positivity and great energy. I will broadcast it so when young people check my posts, it is my duty not to disappoint them (Personal interview, March 18, 2015)
Of course there is no certain scale on how much these stories are real and honest but if always start from the first post of a web log and then start to read the history of the web log right from the beginning, then the pseudonym has no importance, because during this process an identity is built which is coherence and we can see that identity clearly through the history and archived weblogs.
5.7.1 Reasons for Pseudonym
We want to see that why pseudonym is spreading and is so popular. The main point is that the virtual world has never absolutely been apart from the real world and the social environment definitely affects the writing. Since in the absence of physical presence, begins the pseudonym, it can show the real image of the Afghanistan community in the complex condition of the country.
Different Factors such as age, sex, job, family relations, educational background, and political restrictions of social environment, cultural living and the audience will impact the writing in blogs. The issue of the self-censorship also influences the bloggers and therefore they start to censor their writing having in mind that who will read their blogs and what impressions they will carry.
Of course there should be a mention on a difference between the appearance and reality of Afghanistan community. The fact that there is a drastic change after the emergence of Taliban and the change of lifestyle. What people actually are in public is very different from their private one. In this culture, war, violence, economic poverty and engagement of ethnic groups has draw a sharp line between private and public space of people (avapress.com).
In a country where women and young people are facing continuous judgment and must follow many rules and regulations made by a minority, people learned to play a role in various positions and therefore they have lost the ability to be themselves. That is why the identity crisis is the major challenge in Afghanistan today.
Facing such social atmosphere and cultural limitations, women do not know how to present their real self. They are faced with hundreds of dos and don'ts that their identity is lost. With blogging even though they use pseudo name, but they can talk about their reality and who they actually are.
Having a pseudo name creates a safe place for the blogger so that without any concern and away from all the judgments, she can write what she wants. Although here also there is a danger of getting the judgment and harm, but this danger in comparison to the real world is far less.
The possibility of staying hidden creates shades of pseudonyms in the cyberspace and this will give security for women and youth to create and write about the deep layers of their life experiences and what they have suppressed so far. Web converts into a mirror for them to see their own reality as they are or how they desire to be or even see those parts of them that have been removed due to ethnic limitations and social and cultural restriction.
This new image of the "self" in web environment which has a history and archived place will gradually make an identity of that person. It becomes real and it will affect the reality of the person. The individual gradually affected by many images that she or he had created and displays for others and sometimes she has to get close to one of those personalities that she created.
In this arena, women can easily with absence of physicality and without communication introduce themselves to someone else and express their desire in the virtual space. Of course a lot of the pseudonym writers after a while turn to reality writing.
There were many women blogger who initiated with pseudo writing but the real self for them became so amusing that after a while they decided to embrace the real themselves and face the consequences. In this regards, blogging empowered them.
But those who live in small places in more religious areas are still submissive to this and cannot break free easily. They do most of self-censorship themselves since they are always afraid of what might befall on them if someday their real name is revealed to others and the fundamentalists would harm them and take some harsh steps towards them or their families.
So the range of this freedom in the cyberspace is dependent heavily on the reality of the society and its atmosphere. In other words physical space will affect completely on an individual. Women who live outside of Afghanistan in western countries have less rules upon them and no conventional rules and family pressures, therefore they
write freely and do less of self-censoring, most of them even do not have pseudo names.
One of the most important characteristics of virtual place and blogs is that we don‘t know exactly that who is the story teller and how factual he or she writes. But at the same time this point does not carry any significance because except very few blogs and some well-known blogger, usually we never know what are the names and designations of the authors.
In the virtual world what is important, is that how consistent and stable the identity is. This coherence and consistency of identities in the field of blogging will emerge as in web logs there is a date log (via archived), and coherence of materials and writing and subjects and finally type of encounter with the audience. This makes it possible for us to receive the identity of a blogger and its honesty and factuality in time.
Although in the past couple of years with emergence of Facebook, many decided to write with the real name, but there are many who still use pseudonym in the web log they also entered Facebook with this name and have found their followers.
One of the great differences between a weblog and Facebook is that a reader in a blog has no limitations in accessing the comments and articles and can read it at any time but in a person‘s Facebook page, one can customize the setting and make the articles and writings accessible only for limited number of people such as one‘s friends only. In Facebook one can make her page completely private, semi private or public. Maybe it is this freedom that makes women more secure in their page and they can write what they wish.