2023-05-10: experimentation

part of the fun of a new alias is experimentation, so i decided to experiment as much as possible. part of that experimentation is within my identity itself, and part of it is through technology.

on the topic of myself

i go by lily because my username is lilypadding, but the personal name was derived from the online name. i don't have any feelings, positive or negative, towards the name lily - i think i'll get used to it soon enough, though. it's traditionally a girl's name, so i feel that i am assigning some sort of label of being a girl onto this persona - but this identity doesn't need an assigned gender. there's no connection of me (lily) to my real self, so why worry about categories? the gender roles i play in real life don't mean anything here; online, in the sea of the internet, i'm just another alias.

it's both refreshing and strange to explicitly break the rules of what i've assigned myself over the years. this experiment of creating a "new me" has truly shown how fragile my perception of myself truly is, and i haven't even met anyone yet. there's no communities to join, at least, not yet. the only word that comes to mind when describing this feeling is "different"; i don't think the human mind was designed to picture itself as two identities.

on the topic of technology

i've been trying out new hosting providers, web servers, text editors, shells, the list goes on and on. i have used my email provider (protonmail) and dns provider (cloudflare) before, but everything else is a new experience for me.

in case you're curious, my development environment is also my server - a cheap vps i'm renting - so i can containerize and isolate my environment. i use wireguard to get into my server, set up with a firewall to only allow connections from my home internet. when possible, i connect to services from my server's public address, but some services will block your connection. in that case, i cycle between a list of trusted vpns or use tor.

to get a shell on the server, my ssh key is stored in a random location on my machine, with a shell script in a (different) random location to connect while specifying that key. this is done because your ssh keys are sent to every server you connect to, meaning that if my keys were in the default .ssh directory, a malicious attacker can capture multiple of my keys to identify me. a specific key combination on my window manager opens a terminal (with shell history disabled) in the directory of that shell script.

i back up my ssh & pgp keys, passwords, totp codes, and wireguard keys locally. the backups are encrypted with a passphrase i have written down in my journal. i also purchased two security keys used only for this alias, marked with colors distinct from my other security keys. for services that require phone number verification, i purchased a sim card and inserted it into an old phone i was planning to recycle. i do not use services that require identity verification.

if this server was more powerful, i would host more things on it for myself - being able to manage my own email, social media, code repositories, and so on would be a breath of fresh air.

on the topic of the future

i'm still figuring out when i'm gonna start using this alias more, and what interests i want to display through it. obviously, technology is a core part of my identit(ies), but the hobbies i choose are what defines the future. if i pick too many things close to "the other me", it'll be a fingerprint of myself. if i pick too much new things, i'll be overwhelmed and regarded as a person who knows and does nothing. i need to find the right blend of interests to represent me (as lily).

do i want to put on the facade of me enjoying things i don't; do i want to drop all the things i care about in favor of finding new ones? how will this transition mentally affect my current interests, anyways? will i care less about the things i do now in the future?

where's the line to draw?

~ lily