A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…
I was a frequent blogger. This was back in 2002 I think. I used Radio Userland as my blog platform. I still remember my user id number (which was a part of my blog url) 0108194. The title of the blog was “The Universal Church of Cosmic Uncertainty” and I had all kinds of little cross-links, badges, cute little cycling memes, etc. Someplace I have a copy of most of the front page template. I’ll put it up at some point, it was funny; probably cringeworthy now. But I don’t much care.
Back then social media (as a series of monolithic aggregation points for individuals to come scream at political opponents and silly memes) didn’t exist. NOR, I hasten to add, did smartphones, so “food pictures” weren’t a thing.
Sharing ideas on the internet was generally done in long-form writing, cross linking between websites and huge comment discussion threads. You’d post stupid web quizzes and other nonsense. There were instant messaging platforms (icq, aim, yim, etc) where you had contact lists of people you’d talk to in one-on-one conversations, for the most part. The old guard of IRC and usenet were there then as they are now, creeping around in the background of things, generally out of the light of the normal internet user.
It was a golden age of the internet. We were emerging from the crash of the dot-com bubble and people were building and using interesting tools.
I loved writing on that little blog. I wasn’t particularly good at it, except for the occasional tuning fork of word choice I’d stumble over, combined with what I’m told is a relatively natural tendency to “write exactly how I talk” which I’d always heard was a good thing.
I talked a lot of smack and relayed work stories, dating stories, and all kinds of nonsense that, today, would make me absolutely cringe. Stories in fact that should have made me cringe back then. Not for their content, but for the possible exposure, were the people involved to have read them. And yes, more than once I had the rookie mistake of a girlfriend stumble over my site (who even knows how) and misunderstand what she read (I’d taken to the habit of pulling stories out of the past and telling them in the present tense as a narrative device. So imagine HER surprise when I talked about dates I’d gone on that he had no memory of. Go Team Dumbass *\o/*.)
Eventually I whitewashed UCCU.
During this couple/few year period of absolute wonderful chaos I had, at one point, taken a “Stupid Web Quiz” that was “What’s your Pirate Name?” It went on for about 10-15 multiple-choice questions and actually put something funny together:
Mad William Flint.
I liked it.
Blog friends liked it.
I decided this was the other half of the isolation process between my online presence and my meatspace presence.
So I went and grabbed the gmail address (having gotten a gmail alpha invite, donchaknow. *preen*) a domain name, and I set off to carve my niche anew.
But my narcissism would NOT let me maintain an online presence without SOME crossover. So I’d give a work friend the address with an admonishment. A week or two would go by and I’d start blowing out the lines on the keyboard about some work story and I’d stop….Shit. I can’t say that here.
Then there was the 9/11 account, the link to which I sent to a family member. Welp, there’s a whole new raft of shit I couldn’t talk about at all.
So I became weirdly detached and noncommittal. If I couldn’t really blow out the lines, what was I doing there. Years of false starts, multiple parallel sites with different “blogonyms” and such; every one a further fragmentation. Every one received less attention.
Until finally I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed writing entirely and I was finally fully adrift.
There’s a book, I’ve not yet read, preferring to cover the author’s prior works first. It’s “Skin In The Game” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. If you’ve never heard of him, go get some of his stuff and read it.
It’s sufficiently popular that the title is bandied about pretty frequently. The thing is, even not having read it yet, the phrase “skin in the game” conjures up a powerful and immediate mental admonishment to “put up or shut up” in me, every time I see it. And so, an idea repeated in different contexts over a long enough time (especially one we agree with at the outset) tends to sink in.
In what areas of my life am I just a dilettante? Well, that question has a truly horrifying array of answers. But I’ll get to that…perhaps not today.
All this winding nonsense does bring me to my point: I’ve decided to stop the anonymous internet thing. Screw it. I’ve got too many wacky little compartmentalized clusters of interactivity to manage.
So today heralds the death of Mad William Flint. Once I hit post on this, I’ll paste the link a couple other places and cross-pollinate once and for all, these disparate forums. This of course means a whole lot more for me than it does for you. After all, in order to have a superhero unmasking, you need a superhero first.
I’m just some asshole with a blog.