Hi, my name is Derek Padula, and I use my real name on the Internet.
I am not Anonymous. I don’t hide behind an alternate persona, Gamertag, or novelty account.
That means when I leave a comment on someone’s forum post, disagree with their opinion, or share something on social media, I use my own name.
It also means I experience the benefits and consequences of keeping it real.
Why do I Keep it Real?
One day in 2003 as I was creating an online profile in a video game, I realized that creating a fake name was exactly that.
Fake: The opposite of Truth.
I’m a practitioner of Falun Dafa meditation, and the three principles of the practice are Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance.
So to put my beliefs into practice I registered with my real name, as “DerekPadula.”
As I did so my mind brought up long forgotten concerns, fears, and doubts that had been instilled in me by society, family, and friends about ‘protecting myself’ online.
But to be true you have to overcome fear, so I said, “Okay, let’s see how it goes.”
You know what happened?
The Benefits of Keeping it Real
I now talk on the Internet like I talk in real life.
Once something is on the Internet it’s on there forever. The decision to use my real name caused me to reflect on what I wrote before hitting submit because I knew it would be forever associated with my name in real life.
Words carry power. Because I’m not protected by the anonymity of the screen I speak like a real person and try to convey a genuine message with kindness and tolerance. It would bother me if I said something improper, because there is no distinction between the two worlds.
Since I’m not hiding behind a screen name such as “SuperGoku33,” people see my words as the voice of a real human on the other end of the screen.
This means they’re less apt to shout random insults or troll, and they’re more apt to ask real questions with depth so we can have conversations and get to know one another.
The Internet becomes honest, simple and fun: The way it’s supposed to be.
When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong
So what happens when “keeping it real goes wrong?”
Not a thing!
I’ve never received a strange email, been stalked, or been contacted by an old man with a special offer.
For me the Internet is not a scary place. I don’t think the real world is a scary place either, and maybe that’s why I’m not afraid to be real on the Internet.
Granted that I am a single white male with little to lose, but I believe that fear and protectionism come more from a state of mind and perception of one’s reality than actual reality. The perceived fear of loss can prevent us from being open and honest with others, and I believe that part of why we’re here is to learn how we can become authentic and share our gifts with others.
I won’t try to convince you that this is the best way to live, because that’s a decision you need to come to on your own.
And I’m not saying that children don’t need to be protected online, okay?
What I am saying is that I’ve used my real name on the Internet for 10 years, and here I am still doing it, repercussion free.
Not only have I let go of my fears and become happier with living my truth, I’ve also been blessed by having real conversations with real people.
I am happy with keeping it real on the Internet.
Will you keep it real with me?
Derek Padula is a professional nerd and was a consultant on the side of Goku in the Goku Vs. Superman debate. His books about Dragon Ball can be found at The Dao of Dragon Ball.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.