I have been thinking of years gone past.

When I was in high school, I read Woolf's Orlando as part of a course on postmodern literature. I am not giving away any secrets when I tell you that the book is about a character who magically changes sex in the middle of the story. Many speculate that it was written as an extended love letter for Vita Sackville-West, Woolf's lesbian lover. It is a marvelous book, deliciously comical, and it has shaped many of my current attitudes. Books do that to teenagers.

Our teacher assigned us a very natural project: write an essay of what you would do if the next day you woke up as a member of the opposite sex. The question has been interesting at least as far back as the ancient Greek myth of Teiresias in Western European tradition. Being the radical teenager that everyone at least once is, I wrote that nothing essential would be different. Short of lovemaking or other natural functions, my sudden gender-bender miracle would not affect my life in any fundamental way. I refused to believe that menstrual cycles truly altered anyone's mood. It's all social construct. Much of it can be blamed on Cosmopolitan. I would still be me, only a little different on the outside. Radical teenagers are like this.

This position has become more and more difficult to defend as time goes by. I still believe that fundamentally we are all humans with modifications, but now I think that the surface differences aren't really all that superficial at all.

Age, Sex, Location

In our day-to-day lives, those of us without the stamina to be a radical teenager forever will immediately present three characteristics to the world. As soon as anyone glances at our face, they can tell in all but exceptional cases our approximate age, whether we were born with or without a vagina, and guess fairly accurately where in the world we come from (and hence have a sketch of our cultural background, accurate or not). These are the surface parameters that first determine our position in society. We can rebel later against them if we make the effort. But they have the first word. In the primordial world of the common chat room, it is to be expected that "28/f/Mauritius" will be the first utterance in preparation for cybersex.

You see, humans are very smart creatures. Based on a few scant details they are able to paint a bigger picture. This ability is known as generalisation, and along with our language, forms part of a core of characteristics that define humans. From generalisation comes knowledge; from knowing that exceptions generally happen comes wisdom. Humans are also very complex social creatures. Our networks of family, friends, lovers, and acquaintances are vast and intricate. This is why we are so quick in recognising someone's age, sex, and origin: we need to know to a first approximation how to relate to this person, where and in which of our networks will they fit. Our relationship may change with time; at the moment it has to begin somewhere. I can apologise later if my initial generalities misplaced you within my social networks.

Imagine how difficult it would be to get along if we were unable to generalise. Each person would be a completely different experience to us. I present Sydney to you. Say hello. Strike up a conversation. Does Sydney like to talk? Should I flirt with Sydney? Should I address Sydney formally or conversationally? Is Sydney of a higher or lower social status? Confound it, which pronoun should I use for Sydney? Let's make Sydney a "she". Will she even speak my language, I'll ask if I'm aware of the question. Does she know the same people I do, the same cultural references? What shall we talk about? I have no idea what to say, nor even how! You see how this can be distressing. Now when I tell you that Sydney is my five-month-old son, you might adopt a goo-goo tone of voice, make faces at him, and pull on his toes, if that's your mode of saying hello to a baby.

So it goes, and Sydney's age more than anything has determined who he is to you and how you will relate to him. Sex will become more important once Sydney can walk and choose his toys. Location will be something that determines the languages Sydney can speak and the ideas he will acquire. As for what else Sydney will grow up to be, who knows. Three properties have given Sydney a mold to grow into, a very flexible mold, but mold nonetheless. Who will Sydney be? Everyone is asking the same question.

Now ask yourself, wouldn't you like to know how much of you is you, and how much is ruled by the ASL triumvirate? Perhaps not. Many people are comfortable being who they are, and have better things to worry about. Your identity is strongly shaped some time in your teenage years, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later. After a little soul-searching, however long it may take and whenever it may be, almost anyone finds their societal niche and grows into it. But on the other hand, I for one did want to measure the extent to which I am shaped and how much I built by myself. I was intensely curious to find out who I am and why. I still am curious, and I don't feel like a teenager anymore. By now I have a very secure answer. I know who I am, but the question of how I got to be the way I am and not anything else is still interesting. Does this much catch your attention? I'd be surprised if it didn't, at least a little, or if you did not have an answer ready, even a short one. Why are you who you are?

A Little Feminism

When I was a teenager, the sex part of the whole question was the most captivating for me. Forgive me for neglecting other aspects of the problem. You know the almost obsessive nature of sexual inquiries in adolescents. During my investigations, I enrolled in a course on feminist theory during my first year at university. I wanted to ponder sex and gender, and I did not want to hear the answers that the gay and lesbian university groups had to offer; they're too radical, too much of the same teenager that I was. No, I wanted to listen to a professor yak about it, have someone explain to me something of the nature of human relationships around the whole girl/boy issue. I was not disappointed and learned several things. I finally paid close attention to many secondary traits that our society derives from intersexual relations. The different languages men and women will use, how men also face societal pressure to fit into their gender roles, that at any time to express any form of weakness is to be womanly and hence to lose social status. I was fascinated like someone transfixed by gazing at violent flames when I read Andrea Dworkin's account of just exactly why women everywhere had to struggle with a lower social position. She was radical in the etymological sense of the word: she wasted no time in going to the root of the matter. Women have a hole in which men fuck them, she said, and this invasion of their bodies deprives them of their humanity. That's terrible, do you really believe that, Andrea? Then Sojourner Truth reminded me that it is not enough to reduce the problem to a question of sex, but that race and social class complicate matters immensely. She also told me, like the Marxist feminists did, that the ones who defend an existing equality are the same ones who already are more equal than others.

And so on. I suppose this was a bit of an awakening in me. I was suddenly much more keenly aware of sex and gender than ever before, and perhaps even a little hypersensitive to their interplay. Sure enough, Sandra Lee Bartky wrote that to come in touch with feminism is to adopt a radically different consciousness. The first symptom of a feminist consciousness is a paranoia towards all gender relations, and since everyone has a gender, a paranoia towards all of society. Did he crack that joke because he is trying to reassert his male dominance or because he simply is a funny guy? Is she being motherly because she has been subjugated by the male-dominant society into a position of subservience or does she like to provide care out of a free choice she made and because she derives pleasure from it? No human action is free from a gender-based analysis, it seems.

Such were the thoughts of my late youth. And along came a spider web.

The Internet

I began my excursions into the world of online communities about five or six years ago. I realised from the very beginning the great opportunity that this was: I could now be whoever I wanted to be thanks to the anonymity of the binary flux. If I wanted to engage in soul-searching, I had now golden opportunities to do so. I began to create online personae. The first few were remarkably similar to the one I have created for my whole life in the real world, as the online world calls ordinary life, and thus unremarkable. I answered the a/s/l question at the merest insinuation with no second thought. The Internet seemed like a safe haven, a sandlot for play-acting our real selves within a controlled environment. I occasionally lied a bit about myself and expected others to do the same. After all, we all knew none of this is real.

My relationship with online communities changed the first time I actually met someone I only knew from the chat rooms. We had sex the first day we met face-to-face, after almost six months of online courting. This was incredibly unusual for me. I really am not that kind of netizen (remember that word?). The relationship with that person soured very quickly, when we realised just what a silly fantasy we had both constructed online. You must be understanding; the courting medium was as new to us two as it was to everyone else. After that relationship fouled up my real life, it finally hit me. The Internet can be very real if you let it. Reveal too much, get involved too much, and crossing through the monitor's looking glass becomes child's play. The Internet is not a harmless toy. Be more careful next time.

I did not leave online communities, although I did avoid the ones where that person had been. I found several niches of increasing sophistication. Soon communities that were just there for the novelty of online chat got boring and tired. Messages such as "25/m/CA anyone wanna chat?" very quickly cease to attract. I started to drift to communities with focus, places where people would talk about something else than their stats. It is only natural, I think, that people who find value in communicating with random strangers will soon begin to discriminate and talk to those who have something interesting to say. Not so random strangers anymore.

As an online community becomes more and more focused, a small miracle happens: it becomes more real. Soon real relationships start to form between people. Friendships bloom, tendrils of acquaintance seep across the web, enmities fester. Personal details steadily accumulate across the servers. People get smarter as a community concentrates around a common topic. And most importantly of all, nobody has time anymore for the accursed a/s/l question. Online communities could be more than mere toys. They were no longer the sandlots for experimental role-play, but now attractive societies of their own.

I don't remember when it happened, perhaps two or three years ago, but suddenly I realised that now I had the means for serious experimentation with that question of my teen years. Since nobody was asking anymore, why bother answering? Now I had a real chance to answer some of the questions about identity from my teen years, in an almost academic manner, in a quasi-controlled environment with myself as a test subject. How exciting! I would discover facts about people and myself that cannot be obtained in any other way. This was the beginning of a new online persona.

None of the first online communities I tried my experiment at first were all that satisfying. Either the assembled populace wasn't diverse enough to get a variety of reactions, or it wasn't 'mature' enough to avoid eventually blurting out some version of the a/s/l question. I wanted diversity, many ideas all at once; I wanted to develop several of my interests. I need a well-rounded community, something very real, something with actual content and credible people. It would be close to real life except that nobody can look at my face and classify me at first glance. They would have to classify strictly based on the information I decided to share. I needed a very special kind of community for my experiment.

My readers have recognised the only possible resolution.

Monkey! Bat! Robot hat!

I discovered Everything2 sometime in 2001, after it had matured well away from Everything1 and settled into a form similar to the one it is today. Back then I did not realise the full potential of the site. I created a user, posted fewer than six writeups, and read some of the comments I got in return. Hm, looks like an online community like any other, but with a gimmick. Nothing for me here. Let's move along.

Around late 2002, about a year later, I came back to the site, in a not uncommon gesture of visiting old places I frequented. For unfathomable reasons, the place seemed fresh and new and I began to see something unique about it. I started to read, innocently enough. Hm, there's a link here. Well, this is completely unrelated, yet somehow relevant to the previous text. It's like a train of thought. How wonderful. I gravitated towards the mathematics. I saw someone by the name of ariels had contributed quite a bit. Linguistic nodes, full of Gritchka himself, of course. It also seemed that everyone had something to contribute about their sexual experiences. Well, that's interesting too. Let me read it all!

It wasn't long before the urge arose to contribute to this pool of information and community. I remembered the past self I had created here and did not want to go back to it. I did not understand nearly enough when I used that previous username. It was also a very dull username; all five writeups I posted were only on one subject. Well-rounded is better. I also saw that community seeps through the nodegel (I picked up the lingo very quickly), so that besides choosing noding material I would also have to create a new username.

This is where my past musings about identity finally kicked in. I wanted to create a new persona, something flexible, one with which I can play, share, and learn. This persona would be half-toy, half-reality. Boundless possibilities ahoy!

Three Rules

As I was deciding on the character of this persona, I made up a few rules for myself. First of all, never answer a direct age/sex/location question. In fact, obfuscate the question as much as possible. This was for a number of reasons. The first one is the experimentation I discussed above, the second is that I knew my contributions to the database were going to be judged, and I wanted them to be judged on their own merits. I did not want anyone to believe that my understanding of mathematics is inadequate because I'm a woman, or that my point of view about feminine themes in a novel is invalid because I'm a man.

The second rule was that I would never lie about myself or anything else. I had learned my lesson, and I knew that I would probably in due time get attached to people and would like to meet them face-to-face (this has already happened). Lying would interfere with that.

No. Obfuscation, ambiguity, skirting the issue, evident concealment; those are all very fine. They were necessary if I wanted to adhere to Rule Number 1. But no lies. To this day I am very pleased with how well I have managed to uphold this rule. It will make things easier once I attend a nodermeet. The charade will fade after the nodermeet, but nobody will get hurt this time.

The third rule was to diversify. Here I have a problem in that I am strongly inclined to write about mathematics, and mathematics are very much a masculine thing to do. By sheer numbers, if you'll pardon the expression, men overwhelm women in mathematical environments. Of the seventy-odd professors in the department where I earned my undergraduate degree, for example, only two were women. I did not want to conceal my gender only to node piles of mathematics and have everyone believe that I'm male just because I do mathematics. Remember what I said about wisdom in acknowledging exceptions? Yes, well, wisdom is hard to come by in people. That's why they call it wisdom.

So from diversification came my version of the covenant: at most 50% mathematics. I haven't broken Rule Number 3 either, which pleases me. I only have 18 nodes, 19 with this one, and when I look back at them, I am happy with their contents. They only reflect a very selected glimpse of me, but an important part of me. Pauca sed matura indeed!

All these things I decided before I decided on a username. I wanted to create a believable persona. I wanted the username to have meaning, and, of course, be gender-neutral. I remembered reading about transform and her own adventures in gender-concealment and ambiguity. Being an admirer of transform's work, I decided that a username that conveyed a sense of fluidity or change would is an excellent idea. This was my first requirement for a username.

Digana Swapar

Names are important. They of course define nothing. They do, however, clothe a person. Every time I divulged any piece of information on E2, my username would be attached to it. It would be a word that would be repeated a lot. It therefore had to be short. transform's two-syllable word of Latin roots was already too long for me. Anglo-Saxon words with their penchant of being monosyllabic are so much more attractive. So Switch was my first idea, similar notion to transform. Two problems: it was already taken, twice, in fact. One by another E2 user and another by the character who dresses in white in the very famous first Matrix movie. I therefore switched to Swap and stayed there.

Here came another problem. Rule Number One requires me to conceal as much as possible my cultural background. Swap is a very English word with a very English meaning. Ideally, my username would be gender-neutral, culture-neutral, and have some sort of meaning. These are strict requirements. I gave up on having a language-neutral (hence culture-neutral) word with meaning, because short of inventing new words, that's impossible. New words would of course only have meaning for me, which would be no meaning at all. My solution was to make it seem as if Swap were a shortening for something else. I've sometimes used the name Digana elsewhere. It is a contraction of Digital-Analogue, a dichotomy that fascinates the modern age. I also like it because it uses phonemes that are very common in the world languages, yet is not a word in any language I know. The final 'a' is a plus, because in several Western European languages proper names ending in 'a' are often female, while in Slavic languages such as Russian many male nicknames end with 'a'. Rule One is fully satisfied with Digana.

Then came Swap. Hiding its Anglo-Saxon meaning would be a little more difficult. And there is that troublesome 'w' in there that is so Germanic. To hide its meaning I would extend it. I already had Digana. And Swap. Well, someone who exchanges between meatspace and cyberspace would be a Digana Swapper. But just for a little obfuscation, let's make it Digana Swapar. I googled both words separately, and each appears in the net. It seems that 'Swapar' may be a word somewhere in Sri Lanka. Good enough for me; I picked phonemes common enough to appear in a language somewhere.

All this leaves now is Rule Number 2. No falsehood. But if someone asked me for my name, what would I say? Because, you understand, people eventually ask about your name online. Here I decided to play a little game. I would never refer to "Digana Swapar" as my real name. No, when I signed up, E2 asked me for my Real Name (tm). The pomp and ceremony of their question means they're aware of its sensitivity, really an innocuous question in real life, where people only ask for your name. So "Digana Swapar" became my Real Name (tm). If the trademarked name doesn't alert you to concealment afoot, (after all, you know that when a company is marketing a product, they will always lie, ever so slightly) then you are simply a little confused about how the world works. I didn't lie. Digana Swapar is a Real Name (tm) I made for myself for the reasons above. I acknowledge it in my homenode and forever pay no more attention to it, and no one else does either. Thereby my conscience rests.

Methodology

A little introspection of your life, whether it be the online life or the real one, will reveal the difficulty of following my three rules. You must not reveal your age, sex, gender, nor any clues relating to the culture you come from. You must never lie. And you must share as much information and as diverse as possible as you can. The rules contradict each other. Is it clear why? Because information is strongly interconnected, if I may so preach to the choir. If I talk about the things I know, eventually people will want to find out why I know them, and where I learned them. And this will provide glimpses of my a/s/l. Everyone bleeds information. Being selective of what gets shared is a Herculean task.

Location and Culture

I was at first too ambitious. I wanted to leave open the possibility for me to be from anywhere on the planet. Well, there were a few problems with that. First of all, I clearly have regular and affordable Internet access. That restricts the possibility of being a noder from Cameroon, for example. Second are the hours which I log in to the site. I was not about to log in during the odd hours after midnight only to give the impression that I am from a time zone from which I am not. So there I gave clues as to my time zone. I marked this off as necessary evils. I could still leave open the possibility of being a Cameroonian who had emigrated to a developed country with easy Internet access.

But concealing culture is next to impossible, I have realised. I first had to contend with the fact that I speak English fluently. Well, that is not so unusual in the world now that English has become a lingua franca. I could simply be an educated English-speaking individual somewhere in the world; that I am educated is evidently a piece of information I want to share. Idiomatic expressions are more difficult to conceal. Lifts and elevators are the same thing but are found in different countries. And English spelling is not standardised across countries; I had to pick one. I reckoned that British spellings are used in more countries than the American spellings, even if by fewer speakers. I ordinarily spell mostly the British way anyways given a few lapses due to obvious contact with Americans, so this would not be a great problem.

In this manner I had to watch my language if I wanted to conceal my location. Very early on I found the chatterbox and spent quite some time there; I still do. In the beginning I watched very carefully everything I said to make sure that my language choices would not reveal the origins of my English. In due course I relaxed and used idiomatic expressions freely. It was simply too much of an effort to consistently speak in a location-neutral fashion; I was not even sure that I was doing it correctly. There are too many idiomatic expressions in the English-speaking world to know them all. The Internet nor the mass media have succeeded in standardising English across boundaries, nor even within boundaries. So here I was spilling information about me, by the simple act of saying anything in the catbox.

That's just the beginning of location obfuscation. There's also the matter of having to confuse the cultural references one gives. For full obfuscation, there are two choices: either you use as many and as varied cultural references, or you use none at all. Neither path is easy. I thankfully never have watched television that often, so that I can truthfully say I know very little about television's melting pot. Movies are usually safe too, because they often get subtitled or dubbed into other languages and countries. Books are also quite safe so long as I did not discuss the books of a particular country or author too intently over others. Discussing books in one language that had not yet been translated into English is also suspect. You get the idea of what is necessary.

I had to be careful about one more thing: political opinions. Few things are as telling of one's cultural background as the political opinions one holds. Let alone which side of the issue you are on; simply the issues you are willing to discuss will reveal something of the quandaries you have been pondering lately and the place from which you come. This one is simple: since discussions of politics are unpleasant to begin with, I simply will not express any political opinion nor engage in any political discussion. In this respect I have also lapsed a little, but not too much, I hope.

I would like to emphasise one point again. Culture permeates everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Nothing is more difficult to obfuscate that one's cultural background; the best that can be done if you're bicultural (or maybe tricultural, polycultural?) is to express one of the cultures you know and hide the other; perhaps bewilder between the two (three, more...) you know. After all, you do speak at least one language, don't you? This was the facet of the a/s/l question I first got too lazy to properly conceal. I simply had to express culture if I wanted to express any other information. Here is a nice exercise: try to find a text written or translated to English, if you will, from which you cannot guess anything at all about the author's cultural background. If you do find it, it won't be a very interesting text.

Sex and Gender

To be frank, I had the most fun coming up with inventive ways to conceal my sex. By the way, it is high time I reminded my readers of the difference between the two: sex is biological; gender is the social construct, and the difference between the two is a fascinating subject for philosophical discussion that prompted me to create Digana Swapar in the first place.

Perhaps you'll be surprised to hear that concealing my sex was not as difficult as concealing my cultural background. Probably because gender roles are less variable across cultures than other aspects of human interaction. I will not dwell on this point. For now, I will discuss some of my methods. They really are simple.

Take all the qualities you think of as typically masculine; imagine the most stereotypical boy possible. This is what may result: confident, self-assured, rational or self-proclaimed rational, imposing, often horny or sexually predatory. Now do the same thing for the most stereotypical girl: leaning towards the emotional, manipulative, nurturing, sensitive, mediative, sexually hungry but usually passive. Ugh, it disgusts me just to write these stereotypes down, but it's a necessary first step to recognise them. Now express both of them in yourself at the same time, or alternate between one and the other, in varying degrees of intensity. As far as expressing a gender-ambiguous person, this is all that is necessary at first.

It helps if you have a balanced set of stereotypes and if you pay close attention yourself to how people interact based on gender. This ties back in with the paranoia coming from a heightened feminist consciousness. Make careful note of the subtler aspects of gender interactions, such as how girls will try to reach a common ground in a discussion, everyone-can-be-correct situation, whereas boys strive for the I-am-right situation. Observe that unless a relationship has reached high maturation, boys and girls find it awkward to be friendly with each other unless there is at least a sprinkling of flirting along for social lubrication, usually an unacknowledged sprinkling. Forget the sexual revolution and gender equality; most women still know home and hearth better, and men still dominate in the public sphere. If you really want to be able to confuse the majority of the people about your sex, you need this consciousness of the current status quo. Revolution is exhausting.

Because we practically never have to contend with someone without a definite third-person singular pronoun, someone will eventually associate "he" or "she" to you, or maybe both if she or he is careful. Here the real fun starts. Whenever someone assigned me a pronoun, in almost all situations quite innocently to be sure, I often /msged them with something like "Ah, interesting. You think I'm female/male?", and see what happened. Never contradict or confirm; simply observe. The reactions are indeed interesting. I will discuss momentarily these and other observations further down.

Age and Maturity

I have not said much explicitly about the importance of age in our daily interactions. It is crystal clear, however, that age determines much of an individual's role in society. Usually we are content with our position as far as age goes, because if we are too young to be allowed a certain privilege, we know that we'll obtain it when we get older, whereas the satisfaction of knowing we once enjoyed a privilege when young keeps us from complaining too much of how we are deprived of it in our later years. Of course I am making broad generalisations here, so let's recognise the exceptions. The young are eager to grow up; the elders long for their past. But at least with respect to age we cannot say that humans have an artificial or unjust social structure. Everyone gets to grow older and live through different experiences appropriate to his or her age.

In the Internet, e2 in particular, age is not as important for social recognition as maturity is. The two are correlated, of course, but neither determines the other. As far as cyber interactions are concerned, age modifies the sort of life experiences people can share, and the projected maturity affects the response others will give. It is unfortunate that just as in real life, prejudices about age will also affect people's response towards the presentation of any piece of information. For this reason I also wanted to muddle the age question.

Age obfuscation is also relatively simple provided you do it consistently. Simply be careful with the personal details you provide about your life. If you talk about your recent divorce and the custody of your two children, you probably are not a teenager anymore (I hope), and if you talk about the recent events in your high school, I would like to believe that you are not middle-aged either. Concealing age will involve the shrouding of many aspects of your day-to-day affairs, just as concealing culture and location required paying attention to the details you revealed from your upbringing. Actually, the two are strongly related because cultural is as much a temporal parameter as it is related to location. Many of the above remarks about culture apply to age as well.

It was also difficult for me to consistently be ambiguous about my age, so very early on I decided to settle on being young but undetermined. I was probably no older than 35, I decided, and left it at that. On the other hand, because I wanted to be taken seriously, I decided against being deliberately childish (Except in the catbox. Everyone is allowed to be a child in the catbox). I therefore recommend expressing as much maturity as possible at all times. I cannot give any recommendations on how to fake this because maturity and wisdom cannot be falsified. Just act your age, so to speak, but don't tell us about it. Hardly can this hinder the purpose of our experiment.

Results

The experiment is over. Tomorrow I shall take a bus to New Jersey to meet yclept. The day after that, there will be several other noders I shall see in the face as well. Most of them already know much about me. All of them will know my three statistics. So what have I learned?

I learned first that I was unable to carry out my project to its full completion. I could not socialise with a large group and at the same time remain as faceless as I wanted to be. After a while, I snapped and had to confess my full identity to someone. I needed a confidant. Secrets are easier to keep when shared. I do believe that this experiment is too complicated to be handled by a person alone. Thank you to the two or three noders who sat with me on the translucent end of the one-sided mirror. Your help was invaluable in keeping me sane throughout.

I learned something about cultural interactions. Nobody ever seemed to doubt that I belong to the English-speaking world. I suppose this was to be expected. To be frank, I do not belong to the English speaking world alone, but I do know much of it. The Americans usually recognised me as not one of them, first for the obvious different spelling; the British also recognised that I was not one of them. I think it would have been very difficult to fool either party unless I was prepared to involve in deliberate deception, which I was not. So there you have it. You recognise your own. The Australians, friendly and wonderful lot that they are, never for once told me that I might be one of them either. On the other hand, I understand Canadians because they understand me too. I immediately felt allegiance to them, whether they be anglophones or francophones. Living in Montréal has given me an appreciation for the bicultural nature of Canada. A very rough appreciation, because another thing I have learned is that Canada is very varied, although that's not something I learned from e2. And lastly, I have not met any Mexicans from Mexico City, so I cannot tell you if they would have recognised me as one of their own either. It's been four years since I've left my hometown, and I've always been bicultural to begin with, perhaps even tricultural now, so I have my doubts that Mexicans would know me. I am too a part of them, truth be told. I did not interact much with people from other parts of the world to know what opinions they may have formed of Digana Swapar.

I am very pleased with my evaluations as far as gender goes. As far as I can tell, roughly half of the noders believed me female, the other half male. Part of the reason I wanted to indulge in this whole affair is that I wanted to test my own understanding of each gender. I think I passed my test. I know how to act like a boy or a girl. And I also ran into occasional trouble.

I am a bit flirtatious. So flirted I did, and it got me in trouble sometimes. Especially with the boys. It was not altogether infrequent for boys to /msg me responsive flirting, and I was usually able to manoeuvre around it. Not interested, thank you. I am a straight male (This is one reason I have avoided genderqueer questions throughout. They complicate matters immensely.) But I never flat-out rejected anyone like that. A few times, some boy would decide that I was the babe of their dreams, apparently, and that's when things got a little icky. Sorry, I'm not. But this is really not as serious as it sounds. Boys will think that about many girls, and they heal from rejection easily enough, often being used to it. I don't think any serious damage has been done here, nor that anything ever was unethical. Boys will fall in love with whatever fantasy they are able to craft. Lord knows it has happened to me too. It really isn't that bad, and we get over it.

It was lots of fun to be able to interact with women without that uncomfortable threat of sexual predation. I could be friendly, funny, even a little coquettish, and not be immediately put at a distance because it did not seem as if I were a horny boy trying to get down their pants. So I managed to engage in a little bit of sisterhood, and just a bit. When someone asked me if I wanted to be in the ninjagirls, I politely refused. When they added me anyways, I asked to be removed. Not because I am uncomfortable or insecure about my own sex and sexuality. Rather, because it is a usergroup for women, and because I am not one and decided not to lie about it. Yes, put me against a wall, and I have to confess. I am not a woman. I'm a guy.

yclept wanted me to hide my sex until the very end, until the nodermeet. I think this may have been a little dangerous. So to whomever reads this before this weekend's nodermeet, be prepared. Swap's name is Jordi. That's Catalan for George. Pleased to meet you.

I could never fully hide the fact that I'm young, nor did I try very hard to do so. Anyways, on the Internet, everyone is in their teens or twenties unless otherwise specified, right? Right, so am I. Only once did anyone believe that I was over thirty, and that was only because they confused my level of mathematics to be PhD level. Shucks, I'm flattered, but no. It's just vanilla undergraduate mathematics. I haven't even started my masters yet. So you shouldn't be surprised now to hear that I'm twenty-two, born August first nineteen eighty-one. May this colour your interpretation of any of my other writeups in whatever fashion it will.

The game is over, and game it has been. I hereby kill Digana Swapar. Swap may remain, as simply another name for Jordi. But my persona can only exist by being undetermined. Rumpelstiltskin forfeits the game when his name is spoken out-loud, so does Digana. Thank you all for playing. I had lots of fun. I hope you did too.

My relationship with e2 forthwith is definite. I shall continue noding. I will reach level 2 and beyond. I still have two rules to obey. No lies, and diversify. But I cannot continue to be an amorphous and anonymous person from nowhere. I have many contexts. They determine much of which is me. It is time you know my surface parameters. I thank you for the patience you have had in getting to know me. After all, aren't they all GTKY nodes in the end? I insist that's why we're all in e2 to begin with.

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