The Value of a Good Alter Ego

In recent weeks, blogs like Lifehacker have championed tactics and services aimed at increasing a person’s online visibility. While this may be useful for a future President of the United States, a far more useful lesson would be how to create an [online] alter ego.

Pleased to meet myself.

Take Henry Chinaski and Kilgore Trout. Doppelgängers like Bukowski and Vonnegut’s typically move the story forward, stand as filters between authors and their writing, or simply act as punching bags for whatever humiliation or violence is required. In just these ways, your own alter ego can help you.

Moving the story forward – Most web-savvy folks these days will at least sample the latest online trend, be it Myspace, Squidoo or Digg. Almost all sites require registration, which can stop your curiosity dead in its tracks. Do you really want your name to be connected to Myspace? Do you want your boss to know that you’re Digging stories about Why Christian Bale is a Badass while you should be working? Use your alter ego as your username and even your password and the barrier to entry has been circumvented, without a second thought from you.

A filter between authors and their writing – There are plenty of things you want to say about that girl in Logistics, your creepy mail carrier or Christian Bale, but you don’t necessarily want to attach your name to those words. Don’t worry. Your alter ego will take the heat for you, while the Scientologists religious wackos you tick off go crazy trying to find and sue a figment of your imagination. You’d be surprised how liberated and cavalier you feel when you know you won’t have to answer for your misandric tirade.

A punching bag for whatever humiliation and violence is required – Your email inbox is much to delicate to handle an assault of newsletters, updates, great deals, limited-time-offers, stock quotes, Nigerian ex-Presidents’ pleas for financial help, pharmaceutical price guides, and worst of all, spam. Your alter ego’s email account, however, doesn’t mind nearly as much. And if it dies, it can be easily replaced. Set up a whitelist to forward emails you deem worthy, and you’ve got a nice double filter on your email.

So how do you go about getting an alter ego? You conjure it, of course. Using these simple steps:

  1. Come up with a name. Make it snappy, unique, and slightly hilarious if you wish.
  2. Give it some modern accouterments such as an email address, a standard password, a backstory, a Google account, and even a fake mailing address.
  3. Go nuts. For any site that you aren’t sure about, your alter ego will take the bullet for you. And you can always sign up “for real” at a later date, or simply maintain your exciting double life.

Do I have an alter ego? You bet I do.

I’m No Hypocrite.

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