You scared me.
It was in middle school that my secondary identity was born. My fellow classmates had dubbed me “Boo”, but as to why they bestowed this upon me is still a mystery. It started with people randomly leaning in close to me, face to face, and softly saying ‘boo’. I was confused and slightly annoyed by this, but it was not frequent enough to really warrant any reaction other than my bewilderment. Eventually I became so accustomed to hearing it, that I began to respond as if someone was calling out my name; and thus Boo was born. Eventually I asked what the origins of this moniker were, but by that time everyone had either forgot, or they simply delighted in attempting to confuse me by each telling their own story. The most popular story seems to come out of a basketball game I played in.
Only being talented enough to appear in 1 game a year for a team that never won a game, you can imagine how good I was. But every dog has his day, and on this day, in this particular game, I was given the duty of being the point man on defense. For whatever reason, the other team could not get passed me and I was either able to stonewall them or steal the ball. The few times I did steal the ball, it was me running up behind my opponent and swiping at the ball from under his own arm. Much like a bully picking on the uncoordinated kid with no skills, it came so easy. Of course karma is a cruel mistress, and on each steal where this short, pudgy, white kid made it down the court with the ball before anyone else was able to react I ended up completely missing what should have been an easy layup… but that is a story for another time. The fact remains that the initial taunts of ‘boo’ started soon after this.
Expanding the foundation
It would be some time later, using Boo in my personal life more than my given name, before it would be expanded on. As I have told this story before I will make this part short. A friend had decided after watching Happy Gilmore that Shooter McGavin was a cool name… but McGrugen was better. My friends and I each took McGrugen as our last name and adopted our previous nicknames as a first name. Boo then became Booferson based on the Tad Bifferson character of WDVE’s radio morning show in Pittsburgh. We agreed that T and J were the most popular middle initials, and used J as someone already had T as a given middle initial. And so I became, forever more, Booferson J McGrugen.
A blending of interests
Now, on to my self-imposed internet identities. When my family first got connected to the internet it was at a time when I was really into Mystery Science Theater 3000 on The SciFi Channel. Their website had a feature where you could log in, and write your own captions to pictures they would show. These pictures were snapshots of whatever was on SciFi at that time and were updated every 60-90 seconds, but that is totally irrelevant to the story at hand. Being gifted with a higher than normal amount of sarcasm, cynicism, and wit, this seemed a perfect outlet for what little creativity I had. I soon learned that in order to partake, you needed to become a member of SciFi’s network, and this in itself required a unique email address.
So I began searching for a free email host, and at a time before Google ruled cyberspace Microsoft’s Hotmail was the premier destination. Calling upon my previously mentioned wit and sarcasm, along with my love of self-deprecating humor, a growing low self-esteem (thanks to high school), and a need to have something that sounded “science fiction-y” I created the handle genetic_mistake. Within months I would need to make the first adaptation to this name when I began using the precursor to social media, AOL’s instant messenger, or AIM. In its infancy AIM did not allow non-alphanumeric characters, and it also placed a strict limit on the number of characters allowed in an ID. So, purely out of necessity, genetic_mistake became m1stak3. This le3t ID is still my primary ID throughout a majority of my internet escapades.
Of course my favorite place to use these IDs was on the now defunct message board anti-social.com. There I took refuge and perfected my craft of complaining about religion, pop culture, politics, movies, music, older generations, younger generations, my generation, and life in general. It was here that I learned that merely complaining does nothing, as those you are complaining about just ignore you after a certain point. So I pumped up my bruised ego and began using my heightened sarcasm and cynicism as tools to convey my point. Adopting an “I am better than you” attitude my posts became works of a self-imposed cult leader here to save the masses. Of course my handy-dandy low self-esteem could not keep this up for long, although it did teach me a lesson. I came to realize that while I did complain about a lot of things, and that my opinions and tastes greatly differed from the mainstream or majority, I did not always have the answer on how to fix things. It wasn’t until, again years later, that my final evolution took place and this was rectified.
Social Media to the rescue
To avoid my previous problem of not having an answer to anything I complained about, my sarcasm, cynicism, and wit came up with a brilliant plan. Not only would I take the stance of being against the mainstream opinion in everything, but I would go overboard and take my new stance to the extreme whether I actually believed in what I was writing or not. Booferson J McGrugen, the Social Media Saviour, became a character, something that only existed in my mind and was displayed to the public via some of the most offensive and politically incorrect posts Facebook ever saw. I did this while maintaining a strict self-imposed language rating of PG. I never cussed or cursed, unless it was censored, instead my offensiveness would stem from the ideas that I was conveying. As the majority of my Facebook friends are liberals, I would take stances so far right that Fox News or Rush Limbaugh would have backed away from them. I wouldn’t just say let’s reform welfare, and I wouldn’t stop at let’s get rid of it… I would say everyone on welfare is worthless and should be left to die in the street as nature intended. Sure that’s insanely cruel, heartless, and I would never think that myself… but the Social Media Saviour did. And part of my problem was that I would constantly blur the lines between reality and fiction. Within an hour of posting a “kill the worthless” post, I would post pictures of my family and say how much I loved them or I would also tell true personal stories of what I was doing.
Now at first complaints of my posts fell on deaf ears. I would simply tell myself that they just don’t understand, they don’t “get the joke”. But more and more the complaints started to sink in. The few people close to me whose opinions I actually care about were the ones that became my harshest critics. Eventually it reached a boiling point, where I could no longer sit back and rationalize it with “they know me personally. They know I could never kill anybody or that I’m really not that mean-spirited in real life”. I realized my plan had failed. Instead of people reading what I was writing and being inspired to rethink their own stance, or realize that their own opinions that were completely opposite of what I was saying were just as ridiculous as my statements, I became a burden and an embarrassment.
A death in the family... kind of
And so, I silently retired the Social Media Saviour character. While I still use the moniker, and I still “like” or “retweet” some of the more offensive humorous posts out there, my days of posting original ideas like that are all but dead. Now I have relegated my opinions to this blog, where I don’t amp up any opinions or take stances I don’t believe in simply to “rile up the masses”, I simply give my personal opinions. Here is truth. This is me conveying every contradictory idea I have, like how I hate the beach but I love family vacations, swimming and the sand. How I hate pop-culture and try to push the movies, TV shows and music I like; but how I hate it when my favorites “go mainstream”. I’m like a self-loathing hipster, and one day, if this blog that is open the public ever gains any kind of moderate attention, a new identity may arise out of that. So I leave this story open-ended, and only time will tell if there will be a sequel (with a bigger budget, special effects, and that sells out completely so I can complain about it).