Category: Society

The Return of the Nickname

The Return of the Nickname

Not having an online presence is starting to be as odd as not having a telephone number at all. A “what’s up with you then?”

Besides the fact that it is just … odd … it’s also increasingly impractical. Like not having a car to extend the range within which you can work, not having an online presence is limiting the number of times you’re going to be accepted for a job.

Why You Have To Be Present Online

cocktail party

When nary the geek could get online and “do” HTML to make a web page, online presence needn’t apply to everyone.

When Geocities made What You See Is What You Get (sort of…) web page designers or when Blogger launched – you still didn’t need an online presence because back then being online was just that: being online.

Since the rise of social media and now social networking it has become: being online.

Nicknames & The Second Profile

Back in the day” we used nicknames. Remember? Online was dangerous and you needed to remain somewhat anonymous.

So when Jane would join a fishing board she would be “flylady18” or when John would sign into his parenting forum he’d be “DaDude” or something.

What we experience now is that by being online as ourselves, we have no privacy. The lady going to the beach while “sick” is spotted via Facebook and fired. The disgruntled employee airing via Twitter has made a company enemy for life.


So the next wave will be regular people maintaining multiple social networking accounts; one under their own real name and at least one other under an assumed name.

These nickname profiles will enable people to be themselves online without fear. To vent. To talk about books, songs, movies, artists, that are otherwise just “not done”.

They’ll allow people to be on vacation, post to their close friends and relatives and not have the boss expect them to therefore be in reach of the telephone and thus work.

See also:

Piracy and the Future of Content

Piracy and the Future of Content

I love reading. Good books, great storytelling.

Movies. Movies too. From heart wrenching Sophie’s Choice to "must see again" Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

Oh and music! Let’s not forget about music. Sure, you might want to after you see me do a silly high-hat groove-that-bass move in the kitchen – but music sure does add that *snap*, doesn’t it? Right on…

And have you seen some of these articles? Some issues of the New York Times read like a monthly magazine – only it comes out daily! Hellooo!

All this stuff, all this content comes from somewhere; it’s made by people who need to earn a solid, reliable long-term living. Just like you.

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Small Town America Between Our Ears

Small Town America Between Our Ears

“We haven’t been a nation of small towns for nearly a century. […] She embodies the most basic American myth — Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, the fantasia of rural righteousness […]

[…] the patina of cultural homogeneity that camouflaged 1950s suburbia has vanished. We have become more obviously multiracial. There are lifestyle choices that were nearly unimaginable in 1960 […]

With the advent of television, these changes became inescapable. They intruded upon the most traditional families in the smallest towns.
Sarah Palin’s Myth of America , Time

Whether you live in the USA or not — I don’t — you’ll recognize these themes, these ideas, as they’re true for most developed countries: small town simplicity, small town life, small town morality is a) gone and b) was never really here to begin with. In its place there’s a bunch of people happening to live between the same borders but with desires, ideas and values so widely apart that coming to a new cultural agreement we never had anyway will never ever happen. Ever.

It’s a view of our society that leaves you and many others like you feeling cut off from the rest of the country, your country. Usually just a little bit, just before you harden yourself again and become realistic in a global economy type of way.

By having our idea, our desire, posed as an anachronism we’re being denied not only the target of our desire but the desire itself. The same mechanism prevents anything from having to change or be improved upon, prevents a Vision, a Goal, because, remember, there’s nothing to work towards to. We’re all just a bunch of scattered random sets of values.

And that’s a shame because this desire for some kind of richer life through simplicity, honesty and righteousness, this desire to go back to what we know once was, seems to me to be a major unifying factor.

A Small Town Desire

Small town patterns and desires are part of our everyday life.

We may live in a megacity like New York, a universe in its own right, yet we move in small, predictable ways, usually moving no more than 10 km (about 6 miles) max.

Big city, small town.

6%, and growing, of the USA’s households live in gated communities. We’re not talking rich, powerful and exclusive here either. Renters are 2 1/2 times more likely than buyers to be living in a gated community. Nor is it a white affair: Hispanics are more likely to live in a gated community than blacks or whites.

And what is it they’re looking for there? Apart from a sense of security they’re looking for a sense of togetherness, a place where “everybody knows your name”.

A Small Town Life

If you don’t have a physical place to belong, one where everybody knows your name, we still have the Internet where small communities of a handful of people interacting socially are now Big Word Labeled “social networks”.

Sounds good but what they are is Cheers, a town meeting, it’s “hidyho, neighbor!“.

Updating your status on Facebook is not just convenient; it’s wanting people to know you and what you’re doing.

That’s small town in a big way.

Between The Ears

Small Town USA is a desire, and by and large a destination, between our ears.

It’s a desire for scalability and scale itself. A desire to be connected, interconnected, recognized and acknowledged. To see not just cars pass by but life.

I think that this desire is so broadly shared its fulfillment could be a goal, an ideology in itself. Should be. To use our diversity as a culture, a species, as an excuse to not fulfill our dreams because we might disagree about the ways we fulfill them would be a waste. An error. Our shared desire is the very homogeneity we’re looking for.