Online Anonymity & My Radio Message Board Alias

I've been working on getting my other website up to date for a while now, but I guess I didn't really make it a priority.

The site - at robsdemo.com - is an online demo of my work. The web design section is pretty recent, whereas the audio from my radio work is a bit dated. Hopefully I'll revamp that part soon. We'll see :)

I have made one interesting change to my site though...

Over the weekend, I added a new page with my thoughts on the radio biz. I've been writing this stuff for years, but today marks the first day that my name has been attached to my words. Previously, I'd been posting them anonymously to a radio message board under the alias "the5."

I created that alias many years ago. It started as a username for the message board... and it served as a handy way to speak my mind without having to deal with personal attacks (you know how message boards can be). The funny thing is that I usually got amazing feedback from what I had to say. One of my anonymous posts was even published in an industry trade magazine - which I found quite flattering.

Why did I pick 'the5' for an alias? Usually people choose an alias that has some sort of personal meaning behind it. Since I wanted to be anonymous, I did the opposite - choosing an alias that meant nothing to me or anyone else.

Why did I keep the alias for so long? I think my real issue was shyness... not to mention that it was fun posting intelligent thoughts & leaving people to wonder who's thoughts they were.

I've received lots of amazing feedback on my posts as 'the5.' Here's an except from the many emails I've saved:

"I felt the need to drop you a line, not because of any particular post on All Access, but because the cumulative effect of your posts forced me to finally contact you personally and let you know that you're one of the most coherent and centered people around, and not just in this industry. I appreciate your well-thought and reasonable ideas (not to mention ideals) and salute you for your willingness to help others develop attitudes that will help them instead of cripple them, career-wise."

Another gem:

re: the future of radio: "(your post along the lines of "personalities" vs. "another 10 in a row" was the most extraordinary free advice I've been exposed to since I worked with The Real Don Steel in L.A., honest!)"

I wonder if the people who sent me such praise will be disappointed to learn who I actually am? ...that I'm not some industry big whig?


[UPDATE: Since posting this, I've moved all of my radio/media/etc posts to This Is The Box (dot com). The name comes from a stupid catch phrase which I loathe: "outside the box."]

I remember my first experience with aliases and such online. It was 1992 & I was using "Prodigy" - which once upon a time was what AOL is now. I was using their message boards to find out how to fly as a courier, and somebody replied to my post and offered assistance. The person told me he was a travel agent, and sure enough, he had great information. He turned me on to a courier service out of Colorado, and that was how a friend flew to South America for only $250 to visit me during my two month trip abroad in the summer of 93.

I'm not sure if you can still fly as a courier in this post 9/11 word - but years ago you could, though the practice was mostly unheard of. You'd get a ticket through a courier agency, and you'd only be allowed carry on baggage. The agency would use your allotted luggage space under the plane for shipping cargo.

As it turned out, the man who helped me was really a 16 year old kid with big dreams of seeing the world someday & he was living vicariously through others in the meantime. When it was discovered that he was just a kid, he got ripped apart online - but I always appreciated the info he'd given me.

Ahhh, those online message boards... I wonder what will be thought of me now that I'm no longer anonymous? And I wonder if I care? [grin]

::::: | Monday, May 03 2004 at 8:14 AM
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