Return to Sender

Like, I suspect, many people of my generation, I’ve had many email addresses in my time; I’ve gone from Hotmail to Yahoo to Gmail, with stops at other destinations in between for any number of reasons. (Not least of which being different jobs asking me to use their domain-centric addresses; I’m pretty sure all but my current one is defunct by now, which is something that I think about from time to time: addresses that just cease to exist, routes to communicate that are just destroyed entirely.)

I was thinking about these past email addresses the other day, and specifically the fact that I purposefully didn’t use my actual name in any of the addresses for a number of years; I used nicknames, or arcane alternate identifiers that seemed witty in the short term. “LegionOfGrim” went one, which sounds all so goth when looking back but was, originally, intended as a reference to the Legion of Super-Heroes and the fact that I had the nickname “Grim,” because of a friend’s girlfriend and her inability to pronounce my name any other way. “FanboyRampage” went another, named after my blog of the period.

Is this an artifact of a bygone age, when we were all exploring the internet for the first time and trying to figure out what the rules were? It feels like that, but maybe I’m misremembering, or being too kind to myself to spare the blushes of a pretentious former art student who knew no better. Was there really an era when we didn’t want to put our true selves out there so nakedly, in case we revealed too much by accident?

Almost all of those early email accounts are, I suspect, all lost to the ages now; I haven’t checked them in years (decades!) and I’m not sure I could even access them if I wanted to. I like the idea that some still exist, though; time capsules of the me that I was at that point, and all the friends and relationships I had at the time.

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