It’s difficult to avoid your e-identity …

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 7, 1999

Have you ever stopped at some point in your life and asked yourself, &uot;How in the heck did I end up this way?&uot;

Well, I had one of those sudden life identity crises this week, oddly enough, as I was paying my monthly bills.

I know, I know, everyone gets distraught as they pay their bills; we’re all shocked and amazed to see where all of their money goes. But my dysfunctional moment came not from how much I was paying, but the very process of check writing.

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My identity dilemma started out simply enough.

I pulled out my checkbook, grabbed the first check and filled out all of the appropriate information: date, recipient of the check, amount, purpose.

But my pause came after I signed the first check.

Instead of penning my own signature, like I’ve done thousands of times since learning how to write in cursive back in third grade, I did something that startled myself.

Without blinking an eye, I wrote Kevin. (dot) Cooper.

Stunned at first, I simply ripped up the check and started writing again. But a few seconds later, I began to realize how that cursed dot has apparently infiltrated my being.

Have the dot com people implanted some chip into my brain?

Or did I simply succumb to the lure of the dark side?

I’m still searching for the answer.

In an instant I was cast into one of a dozen such Twilight Zone episodes in which a person loses his or her identity. Except in my case, my identity wasn’t lost in the Twilight Zone, it was lost inside my own head — which is embarrassing.

For a few minutes I tried to console myself by pretending that such a new age identity switch must be cool. Can’t you imagine fictional British secret agent James Bond switching over?

Bond. James (dot) Bond.

Or &uot;Hi, I’m Bob (dot) Dole and I want to talk to you about E (dot) D.&uot;

I couldn’t see it either.

At last count I have four different e-mail addresses — about three too many. Which means I potentially have four different dot com identities.

I had a similar identity crisis in college. No, I don’t mean I had to &uot;find&uot; myself by wearing hemp and living in the woods for a week. My first few weeks of college taught me that I was no longer a person with a name. I was a number — my Social Security Number.

It wasn’t long before that number was burned into my memory. Although at the time, I believed it was a conscious decision on my part.

I was wrong. Now I believe it’s a natural order of progression. A simple path we must follow to get to virtual enlightenment.

Perhaps the progression is:

First name.

Last name (used with your first name when your mother is angry).

Social Security Number.

Dot com name.

From there, I have no idea where it goes.

Basically I guess it all shows how radically the world has changed.

The Internet and it’s dot com addresses and labels have truly become part of our identity — at least mine.

And as long as I know it’s coming, I can handle it. But when the Internet suddenly creeps out of your soul, through your fingertips and into your signature, it’s enough to freak out most of us.

Kevin Cooper is managing editor of The Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 446-5172 ext. 241 or e-mail at: