From Twitter Handles to Life Philosophy

I’m exploring new Twitter handles and perhaps a new kind of username going forward. Boss1000 has been my standard for years and years, through gamingforums, and online chat. In recent months and years, though, I’ve been shedding these things I used to identify so strongly with. I’ve started rejoining the fluid world of humanity again, instead of trying to be a constant in a sea of variables. Plus, “Boss1000” has gotten a little stale.

Previously I thought it important, or appealing, or a way to stand out, to choose something carefully and stick with it for as long as possible. This included profile pictures, avatars, usernames, game classes or characters, as well as lifestyle choices like hair, clothing, drinking, and dating. I had little hallmarks I used to signal who I was.(1)And still do, like Tic Tacs. I could write an entire blog post (multiple, really) about the motivations that went into this behavior and how it manifested, but for now, that’s the context.

I perused the account names that already existed on Twitter to get an idea of what was taken and what not. Many of my friends use some form of their name, which I feel inclined to do, as well, except that my full name, “Ross Llewallyn” is longer than my current handle. Maybe that’s a small cost, but I want to select wisely.

The interesting thing I found while looking at taken account names, and the reason I started writing this post, is that I had a surreal, strange moment when I looked at some of these people.

I’m not a person that often sees other people with their own name, either first or last. “Ross” is not common, and the few people with a last name like mine have it spelled “Llewellyn”, anyway. So maybe this is a feeling some people had when younger and promptly discarded, but it’s new to me.

Take @R_Llewellyn on Twitter. He’s a huge sports fan and has a recent tweet about the one, the only: Florida Georgia Line. The timing on this encounter could not be more perfect.

Or how about this Ross Llewellyn on Facebook. He’s in the UK and has pictures from a recent hunt on his public wall.

The activities, interests, and passions these guys enjoy are nothing like mine. They could be my polar opposites in many respects. When my eyes dart past their names while attached to these images and posts, though, I feel a flash, like I’m entering an alternate dimension. How easy could it have been for me to be someone totally different, to embody this life or that life? Would it be so far-fetched that I would be the person sharing this football match?

It doesn’t matter that their names are just like mine; that’s just a catalyst to the idea, the portal that let me recognize how unique we all are and how fortunate we are to be here. In imagining myself as a totally different person, it also extends my empathy to those vastly different than me.

Whatever I think is silly is something someone grew up with and loves with all their heart. A hobby I find annoying or harmful might look totally different to new eyes. The second I change the radio station because a song bores me is the moment someone turns it on and rocks out.

I won’t drown in relativism, mind you; none of this makes me believe that being a horrible person is okay, for example. There does exist, however, a wide array of non-extreme tastes and preferences that we all have a tendency to see in unreasonably poor or bright light. When you recognize that by the flip of a coin your life could have been entirely different, existent or nonexistent, even, it allows you to see and respect people as you would yourself.(2)Though even if I can respect their fans, I still totally hate Florida Georgia Line.

Fragility and fickleness are on my mind, and these small moments today stand starkly against my pitiful attempts to construct an image of myself that was permanent or timeless. All the careful pruning and alignment of my presentation and preferences when I could have simply not been here or cared about vastly different things? It feels like misguided energy to invest and take selfish pride in simply my uniqueness instead of using my special talents to create or help others.

I used to put great value in my thoughts, opinions, and tastes, in looking or being “cool” when traditional methods failed. Now I’m slowly realizing that acting and doing are of real value. What I was doing before was no better than being proud of my height, eye color, or hand-dominance. I can like those things, of course, but those shouldn’t be my source of happiness or comfort.

I’m happy to be here, me, against all the odds. It’s time to move beyond that self-satisfaction, though, and into creating a greater meaning for my existence.

Though, damn, I still don’t know what my Twitter handle should be.

Notes   [ + ]

4 thoughts on “From Twitter Handles to Life Philosophy

  1. Spencer

    You know, it’s interesting to hear your thoughts about online identity. For years and years, I had one handle all across the web. It fit me, it had my name in it–it worked. Then, about a year or two ago, I decided quite consciously that it was time to change.

    A good portion of it was security and privacy. It became far less important to me that my usernames accurately represent me, and far more important that I retain some level of control over my online identity. If I’m spencerdub on reddit and Twitter and Tumblr and Goodreads and Okcupid and… I dunno, Fitocracy, then that’s a lot of information about me that’s trivially easy to consolidate across platforms for anyone who wants to do a little Googling. Call me paranoid, but that’s a little beyond what I’m comfortable with.

    So now I make a new username for every site, and I’m mindful of the names I choose, careful not to be too repetitive. I’m also careful with how I “cross the streams”. It helps me feel like I have a little more control over the scope of my online identity.

    Anyway, this doesn’t have too much to do with the humanist thrust of your post, so I hope you’ll pardon the digression.

    1. Ross Post author

      Nah, I appreciate just about any thoughts!

      I decided long ago that it was too much work for too little benefit to try to exist on different websites independently. I felt like if someone wanted to find me, they totally could, and either my attempts would be trivially easy to overcome or I would have to extremely change my online behavior.

      I’m fortunate that I don’t have to worry too much about things I talk about online, of course. I don’t talk about everything, and maybe an anonymous outlet would be useful at some point (or maybe I already have one).

      Anyway, this post was a scattered mix of nitty-gritty username/given name stuff and philosophy, so anything goes.

  2. Ben

    I don’t know that’s it’s actually relevant, but you made me think of this last bit from The Crucible

    DANFORTH: Mister Proctor, I must have good and legal proof that you…
    PROCTOR: You are the high court, your word is good enough! Tell them I confessed myself, say Proctor broke his knees and wept like a woman, say what you will, but my name cannot…
    DANFORTH: (With suspicion) It is the same, is it not? If I report it or you sign to it?
    PROCTOR: No, it is not the same! What others say and what I sign to is not the same!
    DANFORTH: Why? Do you mean to deny this confession when you are free?
    PROCTOR: I mean to deny nothing!
    DANFORTH: Then explain to me, Mr. Proctor, why you will not let…
    PROCTOR: Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life. Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul, leave me my name!


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