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My AIM buddy list is populated by strangers. Has been for a long time, really, but I didn't notice until I moved to a new interface and saw it all anew. Sometimes you get so used to the way things look that you just can't see them for what they are.

The new program, Adium, has a mechanism whereby you can give people aliases—e.g. substitute their real names for whatever screenname they've handpicked for themselves. DeadAIM has the same thing, but I just never felt like using it. But this time I figured it might look better somehow—sharper—if I had all the real names up there, all in a row.

So I fixed 'em all up with aliases for their real names, and it was great. Everyone had a name—I could reassure myself that there were real people somewhere behind that row of away messages.

But it didn't feel right. As it turns out, real names make the buddy list feel lonely. I don't talk to most of these people—and when their real names are up there, it's like they're mocking me. "Yeah, you know my name, but you don't know me." And it's true; I don't know them.

So I changed them back. Forget aliases. When the names on the list are screennames, rather than real names, it's as though y'all are exciting characters fighting the drama of life alongside me, rather than old friends whose attentions have waned...

7:01 pm, June 26, 2006 :: erstwhile

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