When I’ve written blogs in the past, a lot of the time a song will pop into my head that will spur an idea that focuses my thoughts into words. Today’s song is an old U2 song from their second album October, entitled “With a Shout”. Off topic slightly, a little known fact about me is that you’ll probably not find a bigger U2 fan on campus. So with that out in the open, feel free to ask me U2 questions.
So there’s a lyric in the aforementioned song, “Where do we go from here?” That’s a good question, obviously when Bono penned the lyric he wasn’t thinking about his digital identity but today, some thirty-six years removed from the release of the song, I’m writing a blog about my digital identity while thinking about the lyric.
As is the case with most of my thinking, I tend to look backward to see how I got where I am and see if there is anything I can glean from the journey to help me forge my path forward. My earliest memories of a digital identity are of a fake persona I created on a local BBS. I had recently returned from a trip to Germany and met a fellow who’s first name was Hans. The last name Flogunstoff came to my head. I’m not sure why but it just sounded German. The poor sap that ran the BBS went to school with me. Several friends joined in and created fake names from other points in Europe. It was in good fun and we did nothing malicious with it. The BBS administrator would brag at school about how popular his BBS was, with users from Germany and Great Britain. Eventually he wised up to it and the fun was over.
It is interesting though that when given the chance to hide behind a keyboard, we often step out of our three dimensional public personas and become something else. Hans Flogunstoff was the last time I worked under an online alias until 2015 when on a whem I created a fake Twitter account around a UNC basketball player that went viral and for a brief moment I became a low level online celebrity. What I really discovered from all of this is that neither really suited me. I am who I am with some slight variations in online to face to face Robert.
I keep things pretty guarded and only let a few trusted people in close and I’ve always been that way. You look online and I think it is the same thing. I only talk to a hand full of people but I have a pretty vast list of friends and followers but the people I really pay attention to online are the same people I’m close to in real life. So the idea of creating a network of strangers is a tad uncomfortable for me.
So in the next thirty days, my goal is to try and step out and connect to a few communities, mainly on Twitter. In an effort to begin this journey in retooling my online identity. We’ll see how it goes.