Avatars and Aliases

D&D Dwarf Figure
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Lil Miss Austin asked me the other day why people on the computer call me "xadrian." I didn't have a good answer for her right away.

I spun in circles. At first I was taken aback that she would utter that name. She has an email address and I've sent her some links to Flickr sites with neat Lego builds, so she may have seen my name somehow that way. But that name to me is not something my family or my friends in Austin and surrounding areas use. If you asked my old friends from high school or college who I was, they wouldn't say xadrian.

It's a name I picked up, or made up, a long time ago. I was writing a fantasy story in which the villain's name was Xadrian. When I started becoming more and more involved in the Internet community back in 1996-97, I started out with names like Chimaera and Muad'dib but ended up using xadrian when I registered for an AIM handle. Since then I used it for all my forum names until most people online knew me only as xadrian (or Ex Adrian.)

One guy's kid even thought it was pronounced X Ray Dan, which became a back up handle used at DeviantArt (which doesn't matter because I don't use that site any more.) But it is pronounced with a Z, zay dree un. It's funny, people don't say Ex Avier.

So LMA posed this question to me and I didn't want to give her the whole back story, but I wanted to make sure she understood. I told her that she and her brother call me daddy. The people I live with and go to parties with and play basketball with call me Ben. The people with which my interaction is just on the computer call me xadrian. I said it's just a name, but that doesn't mean I'm a different person.

And as soon as I said that I knew it was wrong.

Daddy, Ben, xadrian are all different people. Daddy doesn't complain about work or ask if they talked about the UK taking over Turks & Caicos at kindergarten. Ben doesn't talk about the latest episode of Phineas and Ferb while out for happy hour. xadrian doesn't talk about his rent or car troubles. They are different people. They are based on different interactions. They are forged in different environments and respond differently to stimuli.

They're all based on the same person, but that person has interchangeable masks to meet different situations. Normally you just go through life like this; everyone has a drawer full of masks. I've just named mine.

I don't think she wants her own mask for the Internet yet. She wants a bank account instead.

Carry on.

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