An old friend e-mailed me a while back. I, being the dunderhead that I am, took over a month and a half to finally get back to him. But here’s the good part. Rather than coming here and posting about how I’m going to write back to a long lost friend and brag about re-connecting as I so often do, I just wrote the e-mail and sent it. Then I wrote another one, to one of my sisters, and sent it. And then I wrote one to another friend, and then another, and then another sister just for good measure. Wow, it’s like after using e-mail for a decade, I finally get it.
I want to communicate with people more regularly, so dammit stop thinking and writing about it and just plain do it. This post is so post-modern it almost sickens me. But I’ve got another point that this is supposed to lead to, so let me see if I can find it… nah, screw the segway, let’s just get moving…
Hi, my name is Thom Slattery. You might not know that if you just glanced around on this page. Well, you’d get my first name, but even the stupidly unkempt about page doesn’t mention my last name. And thus I find myself at a crossroads, having an Internet identity crisis.
What do I mean by that? Several months ago, Michael Heilemann (of Binary Bonsai fame) wrote a wonderful post on using real names. He spoke about the old feelings having a “cool handle” would evoke and how we all dreamed of being some sort of cyberpunk. Typically, most of us used handles as a way of creating an online persona and not giving out our full names over the dangerous waves of the Internet. But as we grow older, that begins to seem a tad silly. Especially when you are like myself, and don’t try in the least to hide your identity from all the bad cyber dudes out there (it would probably take you about 10 minutes to pinpoint my exact location). Nevertheless, I have continued to use the moniker indieb0i, even as I ever slowly trudge towards another decade of existence. Where did this come from, why is it here, and what lays ahead in its future?
Well, back in college all of our online identities were based on the standard *NIX username strategies. And let’s face it, tslatter is about as boring as it gets, especially when it leaves off the last letter of my name. So unless you were lucky enough to be my sophomore roommate (Branden Lam – blam, get it?), the whole Internet alternative identity thing kinda sucked. But soon we were signing up for other services, or at least changing the display names on our mail clients. McFinky Wack was born (let’s not get into that story) but quickly faded. Then came moebius. I was very happy with that nick, but I had to fight like hell to use it some places (a quick shoutout to my friends that used to slave away at Mail.com). Soon, none of my names matched. I was nonVoid in some chats, tslattery with certain logons, and moebius where I got lucky.
Then I dated this girl who pretended to be some sort of ubergeek, and went by her online nick more often than her real name. Not too surprisingly, she was a part of the goth/industrial scene and, as much as I enjoyed those clubs, I often stuck out like a sore thumb. A sore thumb dressed in bright orange shirts blasting Tahiti 80 amongst a bunch of blackened fingers plodding to the latest faux German releases. Thus she dubbed me indieb0i, with the alternate -0i ending that declared my ultra-non-conformist conformity. It stuck like non-other before as it was unique like non-other before. A quick google finds 10 pages of results, and I can assure you that probably every single one is a reference to me.
But as I’ve said before, indieb0i is not my real name. I don’t use it to hide myself, and as unique as it it, the only people who would use it to identify me already know where to find me. I debated about what to use for my Gmail account, and somewhat regrettably stuck with my way cool haxx0r handle. And now I’m really starting to question the usage. I mean, in a few years when I’m married and have a couple kids (hopefully Lisa’s reading this) do I really want to give out my contact information to other adults as, “Yeah, I’m indieb0i, that’s I-N-D-I-E-B-Zero… yes, zero…” or is it time to start using my real name?
I am by no means criticizing the continued use of nicknames and such, I am merely questioning its place in my life. And that’s why I’ve created a new GMail account, one based on my name, and am starting to debate about how to move forward. Should I start moving away from my old Pobox forwarding accounts and look to consolidating my online life as though it really belongs with my real life? And what’s the best way to proceed with this endeavor?
indieb0i will never go away. There are over a thousand links on Google that can testify to that. But perhaps it’s time that Thom Slattery pushed himself to the forefront. Not that I’m going to start talking in the third person… but maybe it’s time I start signing my name for real.
Like I said, this is all up for debate, so don’t worry about not being able to contact me or searching for new e-mail addresses. I’m just wondering how my identity will emerge from this crisis… and will my pagerank suffer the consequences? 😉
I’m Thom Slattery, and I approve this message.