Watch out. I am about to date myself. Way back when the internet was new in households, we had a dial-up modem and a connection through Earthlink that gave us metered internet at 30 hours a month. We were big spenders. It was unmetered between midnight and say, 4 AM. I was a night owl. Telnet was my thing. NCOHAFMUTA anyone?
Back then, you didn’t share your real name on-line. Ever. You didn’t share where you lived, or what you really looked like. You could be talking to your neighbor and never know it, or you could be talking to someone halfway ’round the world who claimed to be your neighbor.
So fast forward to now, 2016, and Facebook still freaks me out a little, because I don’t want my real name out there on anything. But you can’t be genuine. You can’t be real if you aren’t really out there. Even though I live my life out loud. I share. I document. You get my highs and my lows. So far the Facebook police haven’t caught me and forced me to change my internet name that I’ve been using for almost two decades. It might be more me than my birth name. On my mostly locked down, private, but curated public, Facebook account. Even though my instagram is out there for the world to see. A window spying on me that I’ve created and cultivated myself. But not with my birth name attached. Everything else, yes, but not my name. Yes, it baffles even me.
And yet, my birth name is all over the internet. In places I can control. On my portfolio and resume. Hell, my resume is downloadable and my address, phone number, and possibly my photo are attached to it. On this blog, if you look hard enough. Yet I cling to my other self, because giving it up causes thoughts of panic in me that are completely irrational.
Because you don’t tell the stranger on the other end of the computer your name or where you live. Weirdos live out there.
Almost all of my best friends I’ve met online. I’ve met many of them in person. In safe, public places. I love them, for they are my international village. They have helped me raise my family and myself.
But in the quiet of my home, where I still caution my own children against using their real names online and they look at me like I am insane, I am, and will always be, azxure. I know it’s irrational, but scary internet goblins might come make off with you in the night if you share too much.