Reclaiming my digital identity

This post is the preamble of a 4-part series called The Great Untangling. The following four posts have already been published and are linked below.

Meaning making

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of my mother's passing. I spent five of those years in relative isolation, and the other five in union with a soul mate, finding great wisdom and comfort in solitude as well as companionship. To honor my mother's simple yet timeless teachings of loving kindness, I am determined to make this year count. I am hungry for meaning-making, and I sense many others are too.

The past decade has left a profound mark on my identity. At 34yo, I am truly starting to make peace with who and what I am, happily shedding any personal attachments that do not resonate with my most fundamental self.

My personhood is expressed through my relationship to myself and the persons around me. I exist in the world to the extent that my being is experienced by others outside of myself. It’s relationships all the way down; links.

When it's my turn to journey to the other side, like my mother before me, I plan to travel light. Who I was will be defined not by the accumulated material possessions or accolades I leave behind, but by the genuine connections I made along the way, which will endure long past my lifetime.

Connective tissue

I've grown up in an unprecedented time of connective magic. Unlike my ancestors, I have known not tens, not hundreds, but thousands of people with whom I co-created something of value. Such is the power of the digital age. My deepest connections exist locally, offline. Yet many of those connections were initially mediated through the incredible connective tissue of the internet.

My life as a somewhat odd person would have been a profoundly lonely one had it not been for the online spaces where I found The Others; fellow weirdos interested in play-crafts like storytelling and game development, coupled with an obsession for openness as a means to digital emancipation. To most of the thousands of people I've come across in my two decades as a netizen, the digital expression of my persona is my entire persona. I hope to live long enough to engage in a physical handshake or even an embrace with many of my online friends, but I recognize that a large number of these connections will forever remain purely digital.

Therefore it is acutely important to me that my digital identity properly reflects my truest self. I want the people in my life to have seen and known the real me, regardless of whether they came into contact with my physical or digital being.

Identity prison

And therein lies my predicament: Ever since I first logged on to the internet, I've never had legitimate ownership of my own digital identity. My digital expression has always been mediated through some higher power. Sadly not of the paternal kind that intends to lift my spirit up until I can stand on my own.

No, for as long as I've lived my digital identity has been in the hands of an opaque and authoritarian power that intends to capitalize on my innate desire for expression by means of identity lock-in. The powers-that-be have been fairly benevolent, sure, but my independence is and never was their end-game.

This year, that is all going to change. It has to, for time is running out. With the help of numerous brilliant individuals I've connected with over the years, I'll be breaking free of the proprietary identity stack with which I’ve become so deeply entangled.

If you'd like to come talk the people working on this, you can join us on Discord. That might seem hypocritical, but we're starting our community on the app with the strongest networking effects. A Matrix bridge is soon to follow!

The Great Untangling: