Losse herself was an early Facebook adopter, during the fall of her last year at Johns Hopkins when Facebook launched on her campus. Prior to using Facebook, she never associated her online activities with her legal name. “For women,” she writes, “there is no value in putting yourself online and offering yourself to strangers.” But women have long found ways to reap this worth for themselves, whether as fashion bloggers, porn stars, or attractive TED speakers. In performing some version of themselves online, pseudonymous or not, these women have earned their reputations and their rent.
What Losse told me she meant is that there was no worth for a woman in sharing herself online before there was Facebook. There is a you, she said, a “Facebook you,” which is near to the real you, and an anonymous self, who is not you. For Losse, to share her “real” self online brought more risk than reward. The pseudonymous self, of course, can also be put to work, and can protect the “real” self in the process. In fact, this is precisely why to a generation of people who came online before social media, the idea of ever using your real name was dangerous—until, Losse claims, Facebook.