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Who Am I? And Other Hashtags

July 31, 2015

I’ve been thinking about identity lately, on two fronts that don’t actually interconnect but if I only talk about one, you’re getting, like, 100 words today. Nobody wants that.

So, one: This week I’m reading The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack which is basically the perfect book for my hominin- and history-nerd self. I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone—I think you have to really, really, really like fossils and human evolutionary theory—but I’m enjoying it. One of the central theses is that paleoanthropology has been muddied from the very beginning by the ideas that humans are the pinnacle of evolution, that all hominins have been slowly evolving towards us, without branches in the family tree, sort of like that famous image.

This is of course not the case, but it’s fascinating how long and how deeply paleoanthropologists have adhered to that notion of human identity. There’s no way we could be related to the australopithecines because they were too different. There’s no way we could have co-existed with Neanderthals even if the fossil record showed it. And so on and on. (There’s also an interesting side note about how paleoanthrologists derive identity from the fossils they’re studying. You need to find a fossil to make a name for yourself, and if someone dislikes your theory, you take the fossils and run because they give you your worth and your power.)

So that’s identity musings number one. The second one is more personal.

I am 99% sure I’ll have a Tumblr by Monday. After years of saying, “No, no, bad idea, time suck, no, no, no” I’ve finally caved. Like when I got my Twitter account, I’ve finally started running into too many cool people and too many good posts and I want to share them with people besides retweeting them, because retweeting everything gets old. So yeah, getting a Tumblr. At least I think I have a better sense of online life and my own lifestyle that I won’t get sucked in? I hope?

The identity issue with this centers around usernames. All the pseudonyms I use elsewhere are either taken already or ones that I’d rather not use in the modern age. So I need a new pseudonym or I need to use my real name, which is probably the most logical option because I’m a writer, I’m probably going to be published someday, and it’ll make it easier for people to find me when that time comes.

Problem one: If I use my real name, do I want it associated with the fannish, geeky stuff that I like on Tumblr? The fan theories and GIF sets and cosplay? (What, did you think I was geeky here? Just. You. Wait.) I want to be myself, but I still have this issue of “my writer-self is a respectable and functional adult” and “my geek-self is a total weirdo” and even though my writing is really, really geeky, I can’t quite reconcile those aspects of my self.

There’s also issues surrounding discussions of feminism and race which I’m sure I’ll participate it at some point, even just to reblog, and if my thoughts and awareness change someone could dredge up my old words and use them against me, and that’ll end up plastered all over the internet. (See: why discussions of feminism are important, because I shouldn’t need to be thinking of this possibility.)

Problem two: If I use a pseudonym, what the heck do I choose? It’s got to symbolize me, got to roll of the tongue, got to feel okay to me if it gets shortened, and so on. What do I want to be associated with me, should I go public with the pseud at some point? What’s indelible enough in my identity that it will still be “me” ten or twenty years down the road? An incomplete list includes: history, the medieval period, linguistics, writing, octopus, nerd, geek, puns, folklore, science, music, and “something from Shakespeare or Chaucer”, which I’m scrapping because I don’t exactly want to spend the time combing through my Complete Works for that perfect phrase. But that’s me, that’s who I am, outside of the bundle of personality quirks that is my inner self.

I’m still trying to reconcile my selves, by the way. If you have any suggestions?

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