#027: Death of a Handle

[F.U.C.K. is an e-zine that I started on January 24, 1993 and ended on January 24, 2000. One concept is that articles should be timeless if possible, so they were not released with dates. As such, the date on this blog is not exact but I will try to use a date as close as possible.]

As every day passes, you call your favorite BBSs and begin reading the new posts left by other users, no doubt expecting familiar responses to posts and familiar attitudes from the users. Things change though, you call each day, and see more and more unfamiliar names in the ‘Last Caller’ list as you logon. Of course, you probably don’t give a shit about most since it seems 80% of the handles disappear so damn quickly. As each month passes, it seems that ‘Joe Public’ calls more and more of the local boards and begins the typical charade. If not ‘Joe Public’, then all of the new ‘Christmas Modemers’ call in and begin their typical tirade.

‘Joe Public’ is almost always spotted. Looking back through the last callers their is often a ‘John Barnes’ or ‘Jim Rogers’ mixed in with ‘Funkadelic R0d3nt’ and ‘Psycho Space M0nkey of Death!’. You will only see their names in the last caller logs because they never post a message, and they never play an online game. The only other place you see them is after the last caller box “‘Joe Public’ downloaded THISFILE.ZIP”.

The ‘Christmas Modemers’ are usually apparent as they are all too willing to interrupt your conversation on a message base with something like “HI!!!!!! I am the Cobra!!!!”. Nothing wrong with their handles really, but they are quite dull, and overused. Given, not everyone can think of a really cool handle but with some originality a semi-decent handle can be thought of. Typically the ‘Christmas Modemers’ last about three or four months, then fade out of the scene as something new is introduced to them by their friends. A small percentage go on to become long term BBSers and some actually contribute a lot to systems and sometimes go on to run boards of their own(that last more than one month).

Aside from that, you are left with the people that BBS for fun, enjoy many aspects of BBSs, such as posting, games, and file transfers. Among these people, in smaller areas more than larger cities I imagine, a handle builds an amazing personality in many cases. Around here (806 area code), there is a loyal base of message posters, that call many systems, and carry on good conversations. Unlike many areas, a majority of the regular posters know each other quite well, have met several times, and have become good friends through the boards. Even knowing the people I post with, totally different personalities and attitudes are represented by the individual, and the handle they use. It is almost like each BBSer in the area has two unique personas.

Throughout my period of BBSing, there have been so many handles that have floated in and out of the posting scene, it is hard to keep track of people. On top of that, you have people that change handles periodically, and people that use different handles on every board. I really can’t say much about changing handles as I have done it three times since I have started. I kept my first for a while, switched as a joke to a second, and ended up keeping it for a while. My third has last me since then and it is the closest thing to the real me you will find on the boards. The people that stick with one handle, and change it once, maybe twice are often times the ones that develop really cool personalities that are easily associated with their handles. With the change of one of these such handles, it is almost like losing a friend in some cases. After being so familiar with a person’s handle, and having them switch all of a sudden, it throws off posting in some cases. But things bounce right back as the new handle slowly builds up a new, and separate personality.

Once again, maybe this doesn’t happen anywhere else, but it does around here. My first handle, was pretty unique, but not totally original. I have been told that people could expect a superior attitude from it, smart ass remarks as well as some conversation and a willingness to add to a conversation if the chance arose. My second, people could always expect smart ass remarks, and the personality of an asshole. That was a stage where I was tired of the local posting scene, and the lack of understanding that was going on. My third, and current (yes, I use a different handle on public boards) doesn’t post near as much as I used to. The posting that I do do is minimal and never real friendly, but never real unfriendly. With the passing of my first handle, a few people actually missed it for various reasons. My second, people rejoiced. My third, that remains to be seen.

With some of my friends, they would change handles, leave the BBSing scene, or whatever, and people would miss them. To date, some handles are still brought up in conversation, almost a year after they have left. Others, are barely remembered and people have to think hard about what their handle was when they were on the boards.

In all cases, a person’s handle identified them, and established a part of their personality, some of their attitudes, and a few of their beliefs as well. Changing handles, kills one part of them, and from it, a new handle, and a new person is born.

I don’t know the point of all this, when I started I had one I am sure, fuck it. I guess the point is, know that your handle is much more than a clever nickname. It is used by others to associate a whole personality base with you, and when seen, is treated as a friend (or enemy as the case may be) and changing it in favor of a new handle changes a lot of views and dispels a lot of memories, as well as changing a part of you sometimes. Just make sure that the change is for the better if you can help it, and choose wisely.

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