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Anonymous chic
June 13, 2013 7:59 PM   Subscribe

Internet anonymity is the height of chic.

tl;dr skip to the last paragraph, but the central idea is the online world has an oversupply problem (too many people exhibiting too much), cyber slavery, toxic trolling, corporate and state snooping - and thus the new chic is to be rare and anonymous, inaccessible, unGoogleable. But creates the paradox how to be chic if no one knows you exist, to which one answer is remain a bit visible but treat the Internet like any other old established technology, don't foreground too much in life.
posted by stbalbach (59 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The height of chic is not giving a fuck about chic.
Always has been; always will be.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:01 PM on June 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


^^ agreed.

Those who are the coolest are above it.

Post-cool.
posted by ACair at 8:02 PM on June 13, 2013


No, the height is an appearance of not giving a fuck.Actual not-giving-a-fuck-chic is grocery shopping with your belly hanging out over your saggy pajamas, because it's quicker, easier, practical, and comfy.

A small amount of fuck must be discretely given.
posted by anonymisc at 8:06 PM on June 13, 2013 [64 favorites]


Does this mean I'm trying too hard?
posted by ogooglebar at 8:06 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


*****
*****
*****
*****
*****

posted by item at 8:06 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


A small amount of fuck must be discretely given.

Given, but invisible.
posted by ogooglebar at 8:10 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


So it's chic to be Blank Reg now, is it?
posted by Catblack at 8:10 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have semi-anonymity by virtue of not having done anything significant. Unimportance and lack of interest is a great way to fly under the web radar. (Seriously, I'm way down on hits under my name, and then it's all out of date and doesn't say much).
posted by jb at 8:10 PM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


My job decided that, writing for web content, every single SEO article I wrote would be launched forth with my face and name attached. No, every single SEO article that the company produced would be launched so, such that for all of internet history my name and tiny face picture would be associated with this crap.

I'm less embarrassed about the naked pictures.
posted by Phalene at 8:13 PM on June 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


(Habit rather than effort)
posted by anonymisc at 8:14 PM on June 13, 2013


Being invisible on Google means being irrelevant in the Internet age. It's not chic, it's invisible. The solution to over-exposure online is to get ahead of it, to project the person you want to be. The more hits on Google for you, the better. You just want the top results to be your content.

Word up to Blank Reg, though. These days he's the voice of Civilization V.
posted by Nelson at 8:16 PM on June 13, 2013


yeah my band's guy who reads VIce and shit wants us to be on the down low, lots of logos and leaks... i prefer saturating and screaming
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:20 PM on June 13, 2013


I'm nearly invisible online because I have a fairly common name that I share with a wildly popular General Hospital character and the publisher of a major newspaper. As a result, I can be found online, but you have to really want it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:23 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


if nobody sees you or notices you, do you exist?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:25 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I change my name once a year. As long as I keep the same phone number, people who know my birth name and 1st grade nickname can still contact me. I am thinking about changing my name to my phone's id number that the NSA uses to track me. Makes things easier for everyone.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:26 PM on June 13, 2013


The Capitol Hill Block Party 2010 lineup was the height of this for me. Bands competed for ungoogleability; some choice names (I am not making up any of these):

Boat
Sports
Lake
Sol
Lovers
Space Needle
Woods
Fences
Cults
Battles
Papercuts
Yuck

I wanted to start a charity drive to at least get them a definite article or two.
posted by 0xFCAF at 8:45 PM on June 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


You can just stuck 'band' in front of the number to get the site. And Battles are amazing.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:51 PM on June 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


if nobody sees you or notices you, do you exist?

Related to the failure post above (below?).

If you define success/existence as people noticing what you're doing and throwing money at you for doing it (ie if you're a performer or something), then no. You're in trouble.

But if you define existence and success as just having one hell of an interesting time, and deciding that you don't give a fuck whether people notice what you do or not, whether they attribute the things you do to your real name, or even whether they remember you when your gone.

Then the party continues.
posted by Ahab at 8:52 PM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I love Yuck and Cults.

A casual searcher can't really find much about me by searching for my real name (or my maiden name) online anymore, even in conjunction with my city. I seem to be the top search result for "my name + my city" and "my maiden name + my city," but the results are few and are quickly muddled by those for other people with my name. Despite the fact that I work in journalism...I'm fine with that.

Searching for limeonaire, though, yields delights!
posted by limeonaire at 8:53 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I approve this post.
posted by not_on_display at 9:02 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


My new music project is named Karaoke. Kind of excited to be drowning in ungoogleable obscurity from day one.
posted by naju at 9:03 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


A good friend of mine is in a band called Home, which is the most unGoogleable thing I have ever seen. Despite them having been on a major label, them being cohorts of the Flaming Lips, their bass player eventually joining Interpol, etc., they can be hard to find.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:10 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


My new post-rock band Google is pretty difficult to find. But that was nothing compared to my old band Internet. I've never really had much success marketing our music.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 9:21 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


This isn't just a modern thing. There's two bands called X, an LA punk band and an Australian pub rock band. Both are hard to find.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:24 PM on June 13, 2013


Does the band X have a dude named Mark, who thinks he's a dog? (Because everyone knows X: Marks the Spot).
posted by Goofyy at 9:25 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure I should read the article. Is it relevant?
posted by thelonius at 9:31 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have an unusual last name, but there's some guy in Chicago who has the same first and last name as me. I just blame any embarrassing stuff that comes up when you Google me on that guy, and pretend I have very carefully managed my own online tracks.

I'm always having to tell people who try to email him at my address (I got the first initial + last name Gmail account first) they've got the wrong guy, so really, being the scapegoat for my youthful Internet hijinks is the least he can do for me, right?
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:34 PM on June 13, 2013


I thought the definition of cool was to be extremely googleable.
posted by me3dia at 9:43 PM on June 13, 2013


nah cool is being hard to find, slippery
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:43 PM on June 13, 2013


The LA punk band X does have a guitar player named John Doe... their first album (produced by Ray Manzarek, not small potatoes) was released in 1980, so they were working on this UnGooglabilty thing long before Google existed.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:49 PM on June 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


... and they're great (X, that is)
posted by philip-random at 10:04 PM on June 13, 2013


hey, the Ian Rilen Aussie X isn't bad either
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:09 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks like I missed my chance to be cool AGAIN. Until recently my real name had three hits on Google, all Usenet posts from 1994 when I was 14. One to alt.drugs about getting high and listening to Pink Floyd, one to alt.cult-movies.rocky-horror, and one asking for a description of William Gibson's Agrippa on alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo. What was I thinking burying all that, uh, chic, under a bunch of bullshit social networking? Anyways, it's not enough to be merely reclusive. You've gotta be famously reclusive.
posted by Lorin at 10:12 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Back in the olden days, the telephone company would distribute an updated copy of the White Pages on an annual basis. If, like me, you were a kid who got excited about such things you would flip through to find the records for your folks, cousins, friends and maybe eventually girls you had crushes on. This was the pre-historic version of Googling (and by extension, I suppose being unlisted made you chic). I have a unique last name and growing up, my folks were the only record in the phone book until I was eleven or twelve. That year I saw another record with our last name. It felt momentous and I wanted to call and connect even though that person zero relation to us. I controlled myself and didn't act on my impulse. Unrelatedly, a couple years later the phone rang at home and the voice on the other end asked if there was a Harry My-unusual-lastname at my number. Unable to control myself I acted on impulse, responding "Yes, we've got at least a couple."
posted by dismitree at 10:13 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is un-googled the same as un-googleable? Cuz I'm likely the former.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:14 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was convinced for awhile that the move "XXX" was so named to avoid internet piracy (go ahead, search for 'xxx' on your favorite torrent site). Then I found out it wasn't worth pirating.
posted by el io at 10:15 PM on June 13, 2013


a kid who got excited about such things you would flip through to find the records for your folks, cousins, friends and maybe eventually girls you had crushes on.

Accompanied by shrieks of "THE NEW PHONEBOOKS ARE HERE!!!" no doubt?
posted by ShutterBun at 10:17 PM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've tried pretty hard to stay invisible on the internet (it's relatively hard, luckily I started this before there was the http protocol); my last employer mucked this up for me after they submitted numerous patents in my name. That's pretty much all you'll find under my real full name - a few software patents I'm not terribly proud of; in fairness there isn't a single software patent that exists that I'd be proud to have my name on (software patents are bullshit).
posted by el io at 10:18 PM on June 13, 2013


I'm planning on setting up a gopherserver and a phlog.

I think Gopher is the future for those who miss the old days. The web will always be here in whatever mainstream form, but some of us need to go underground. While I love the idea of decentralized systems, it seems that nothing is really being done to push and progress this stuff, and I have no clue why. We have had such great work done until the web in terms of protocols and alternate ways of using the net, and then, it all died out, and now when we need innovation, the closest we've gotten in the late 90s, IMO, is bittorrent/p2p protocols. I suppose bitcoin, too, but that's a bit different.

I don't know if we need a new protocol or if we just need to work more p2p web-serving for a smaller set of social networks (friends of friends) or what.

I'm not one to whore myself out. I laugh when I see a bajillion "friends" on someone's facebook or whatever. I rather keep it close and personal as much as I can. Slowly build trust with strangers via common interests, find the ones who click, ignore the rest.
posted by symbioid at 10:42 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a unique last name and growing up, my folks were the only record in the phone book until I was eleven or twelve. That year I saw another record with our last name.

young bull octorok: Mom! Mom! There's two ladies in the phone book who have the same last name as us! Are we related?

mater octorok: Those are your father's ex-wives.

That was an awkward day.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:13 PM on June 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


YES!

All that time I spent insulating a series of internet accounts from another, carefully making sure my weird name wasn't attached to any account I posted to USENET/gamefaqs/Compuserve/AOL/fark/slashdot back in the late '90s is finally gonna pay off? I'm not on Facebook/Linkedin/Foursquare, and it's finally gonna pay off?

ECSTASY!

Oh wait, what is this PRISM shit all about?
posted by Sphinx at 11:45 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


CiS: This isn't just a modern thing. There's two bands called X, an LA punk band and an Australian pub rock band. Both are hard to find.
Yeah, back in the early '80s in Auckland, New Zealand, there was a punk band called Youth for Christ, pointedly named to cause confusion with a prominent local Christian youth organisation. The height of their notoriety came when the national leader of the fellowship called by their practice space one day and politely asked them to change their name.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:59 AM on June 14, 2013


I love articles like this, because you can almost read the journalist's mind.

"Oh god, oh god, I need an idea for a column. Come on... there must be some interesting trend out there. Hmm, has a famous person said something in the last few days? Ah, "The chicest thing is when you don't exist on Google. God, I would love to be that person!"

Brilliant! I can totally use that quote as a kicking off point and tie lots of unrelated books and people together to present a trend!"
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:51 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I saw Shellac play a couple weeks ago in Hamburg. The opening band was named "AUF".
I tried to find out more about them.

Ungooglebar.
posted by chillmost at 2:58 AM on June 14, 2013




"Oh Good Lord, Grauniad, don't encourage us!"
posted by infini at 3:24 AM on June 14, 2013


"Oh Good Lord, Grauniad, don't encourage us!"
posted by infini at 3:24 AM on June 14 [+] [!]
Need to fix a typo? Edit



he he he I kill me, yeah so what, just call me Alf
posted by infini at 3:29 AM on June 14, 2013


Being invisible on Google means being irrelevant in the Internet age.

And I am okay with that. Totally okay.
I see people posting their follow/retweet stats on Twitter or whatever, and I am unmoved.

This seems like a place to drop this:
Ed Snowden's embarrassing past. He was once a teenager on the Internet!
posted by Mezentian at 4:50 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Status on social media was demonstrated similarly by conspicuous consumption's online counterpart: conspicuous presence.

This isn't new. That's exactly why we used to run ircii within a screen session because it preserved our online presence when we weren't online. IRC nicknames were fair game, and unless you had the resources to maintain a constant connection, anyone could just swoop in and steal your effective virtual identity. What's more, being a constant fixture afforded a certain chic because it made you omnipresent. You weren't just some kid periodically checking in via dialup, you were a fixture.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:11 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sonny Jim: "The height of their notoriety came when the national leader of the fellowship called by their practice space one day and politely asked them to change their name."

Punk fail.
posted by chavenet at 6:55 AM on June 14, 2013


Ungoogleableness will soon pass. What we're talking about here are the limitations of using a short sequence of letters to label something. Data mining is more powerful than that, and the recent post on finding Paul Revere is a nice intro. We can't easily predict what future internet searching will be like, but I'm confident that I'll have no problem isolating a particular John Smith because that internet will give me more effective tokens than ASCII. Google is this already, but our view of it resembles a text input.
posted by rlk at 7:09 AM on June 14, 2013


I think Gopher is the future for those who miss the old days. The web will always be here in whatever mainstream form, but some of us need to go underground. While I love the idea of decentralized systems, it seems that nothing is really being done to push and progress this stuff, and I have no clue why.

Yay, gopher! You still get a gopherspace at the Super Dimension Fortress. I don't use it much, but every once in a while I take a look around.

Have you been on TOR Hidden Services lately, though? It really reminds me of the net in the late 90s, filled with all sorts of random craziness and pretty slow, but still usable. I never quite know what I'll find or even what will be on the network at any given time, but there's always something interesting and there's less ads and garbage filler due to the bandwidth limitations. Also potentially supports all protocols, as far as I know. Start with the hidden wiki and get your onions on.
posted by nTeleKy at 8:05 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is an extension of the practice of cultivating mystery around yourself. Some authors, like Pynchon or Salinger, might be accused of this. "Ooh, I'm so inaccessible and mysterious" - this creates more demand for you.
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:18 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The most ungoogble band: Child Pornography - http://www.last.fm/music/Child+Pornography
posted by wcfields at 10:00 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actual not-giving-a-fuck-chic is grocery shopping with your belly hanging out over your saggy pajamas...

If that's who you are.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:05 AM on June 14, 2013


I think Gopher is the future for those who miss the old days.

Shout out to the University of Minnesota and Mark P. McCahill. I used Gopher before it was cool. But don't tell Google.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:17 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Legend has it that Gopher was created without support by any department or agency in the U of MN, but once it took old and companies and other institutions got interested in it, everyone wanted a piece of the action. They sold licenses to the server, and didn't do much to improve the usability. They got 3-4 years out of that, peaking with a conference or two that drew techies from across the nation. Then Mosaic came out.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:23 PM on June 14, 2013


Thanks to those famous, wealthy, and much more productive people with my same first and last, I am virtually undetectable on the intarwebby.

I think this is something I am grateful for.

I think.

totally unremarkable, poor, lazy...This is good, right?
posted by BlueHorse at 6:15 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


As you can guess, my first name is so dirt common that no matter what my last name is... well, let's say that the last time I googled myself, I stopped counting after the numbers of me got into the thirties. I am fine with that sort of anonymity these days.

I am kinda relieved that nothing I've ever done has gotten Internet fame yet. I wonder about how that goes at times, to suddenly be noticed on that level. Especially what it id you might end up getting known for..Like right now I feel sorry (on many levels) for Snowden's girlfriend, who never did anything super major to try and get fame, but now the world is all, OMG he dated a pole dancer!!!! She wasjisyll
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:50 PM on June 15, 2013


Ugh, cannot fix a typo on the phone, apparently. Anyway, she was just living life like everyone else online and now thanks to her boyfriend she's a shamed internet celebrity, all because more people now know she exists. How fucked up is that? You can get away with whatever. .as long as somebody doesn't notice you exist.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:53 PM on June 15, 2013


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