In starting this blog I thought carefully about whether or not I wanted my identity to be anonymous. The decision was a tough one. After a lot of (over)thinking, I ended up deciding on a state of relative anonymity (while not using my name I’ve left enough clues that someone who was really curious wouldn’t have too hard a time figuring out my real identity).
When thinking about whether or not to be anon I looked at some of the accounts I follow and their take on the subject. In doing so I realized there is a clear divide between anonymous accounts and those who use their real name.
On the one hand you’ve got guys like Ed Latimore, Alexander Cortez, and Dennis Demori building personal brands on their real names.
On the other side of the debate are guys like Bronze Age Pervert, G Manifesto, and Delicious Tacos. The latter learned the value of privacy the hard way after he was doxxed by one of his readers–an event which led to him being fired from his job.
Interestingly, there’s a clear difference in how the anon and real name camps monetize their brands. The real name guys have a much more diverse portfolio of products and services they’d like to sell you. Hop on Alexander Cortez’s e-mail list and he’ll try to get you to buy his coaching, courses, and subscribe to his private telegram group. Meanwhile, the anon accounts, if they try to sell you at all, are content to leave it at an e-book.
Hell, BAP doesn’t even have an email list, the holy grail of sales channels for online marketers. The vast majority of his online identity is restricted to twitter, where he disseminates images of peak male aesthetics every #handsomethursday. This kind of memeing is too indirect and bizarre to be considered marketing.
Sure, the anons shill an e-book or two. But, there’s also a difference in the type of book they shill. The real name guys sell ‘practical’ advice. How to grow your twitter following, how to land your first client freelancing, how to trick a girl into sleeping with you, etc. Meanwhile, the anon’s books are much less ‘practical’ and much more creative. Tacos writes courageously honest, misogynistic, dystopian fiction. BAP wants to meme you into bodybuilding, sun-tanning, and piracy, but he’s not trying to sell you a course on any of those things (if he did I would gladly buy it).
I’ve seen more than a few twitter rows where the real name guys claim that any criticism of them coming from an anon account is invalid. I’ve seen a few iterations of the argument but it basically boils down to ‘you could be anyone, so you’re really no one, so I don’t have to address your concerns with a logical argument.’
If you find this less than persuasive, you’re not alone. As BAP put it, ideas should stand on their own. It doesn’t help the real name guys’ cause that they are several orders of magnitude more spammy/salesly than their anon equivalents.
Take, for example, Andrew ‘Cobra’ Tate. While I tip my hat to this guy for living a (seemingly) Dan Bilzerianesque lifestyle of fast cars and faster women, I remain unconvinced that paying an over twelve hundred dollar annual membership fee to be a part of his ‘war room’ will help me to get laid.
This is not to say that the anons never shill, but when they do it is done in a much more honest fashion. Take, for example, Delicious Tacos, who seems to have recently come to terms with the fact that he must sell his books if we are to buy them.
The Delicious Tacos version of selling is this meta ‘I’m sort of uncomfortable selling you this and I feel sort of bad about doing it so I’m going to be as transparent as possible about it while still going ahead and doing it’ kind of sales. I like this kind of shilling because it’s honest. On the salesman/artist spectrum, Tacos skews much more to the latter. It’s not that he’s averse to making a shit load of money of his art/books, he’d just rather someone with less integrity do the marketing to make that happen for him.
This is the root of what makes the anon accounts more appealing and, ironically, more authentic to me. While they may not be posting under their given names, guys like BAP and Delicious Tacos come across as more honest than the carefully curated personal brands of their public counterparts. Unlike the real name guys, the anons don’t claim to have all the answers. Their anonymity and the fact they don’t fully support themselves off their internet money grants them a genuine authenticity, one more deserving of our trust.