A BEGINNER’S PERSPECTIVE – Creating your online RLSH identity (Part 1) by Phantasm

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I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I joined the RLSH community. Sure, I had seen the documentary Superheroes and read Tea Krulos’s book, “Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement.” But there’s always a difference between reading about something and experiencing it for real. While I’m still new to the movement and am always learning, I wanted to share some of the tips I’ve picked up so far. For Part 1 of this article I’m going to focus primarily on getting your online persona started.

PICKING AN ALIAS

You thought you only had to pick out a Superhero name? Think again! The RLSH community primarily exists on Facebook, which has a ‘real name’ policy. This means that you have to come up with a real sounding name and then put your Superhero name in the Alternative Name section. If you don’t, then you’re taking a gamble Facebook will close down your account.

PICKING AN RLSH NAME

I had already picked my RLSH name out back in high school, but then when I started brushing up on what being a Real Life Superhero was really about I quickly discarded it. The community didn’t need a Batman knock-off dressed all in black tactical gear like I had planned. (So long Raven, I hardly knew you.) I decided to come up with something more personal to myself. It was something I thought long and hard about (though it turns out not long and hard enough) and finally decided upon Vortex.

Numerous reasonings went into the name, but the driving reason was that I had gone through a dark point in my life and in the spate of a month everything turned around for me. It was a whirlwind of a time (pun clearly intended) and hence Vortex was born. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I decided to finally take the plunge into the RLSH community. I wanted to ‘pay it forward’ and help those who were still going through dark times of their own.

Practically speaking, you’ll want to do a name check and make sure another RLSH isn’t already using it. I thought I had done that with Vortex, but…counting me there were actually three of us now! It’s not the end of world if you do accidentally pick a name that’s already been ‘taken’ but it does lead to a lot of confusion, especially when you first start out.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re completely happy with your name because it’s really hard to change it. Partly because if you’re a couple months in you’ve probably started building a foundation and connections and it can be confusing to the community when you suddenly change a name you had been building up. It’s also seen by some to be in bad form.

I know this because I did ultimately change my RLSH name after about six months of being in the community. However, I think my transition went smoother than most’s simply because of communication. I posted publically about why I wanted to change it (there were now three of us), I asked for input from the community, and I let everyone know before I officially changed it. Communication, as in life, is always one of your most effective tools.

In Part 2 I’ll go into more detail about what to do once you’re online and what the online RLSH community is like.

-Phantasm

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