Someone, somewhere, on some blog I recently read had a very interesting essay on the identities we create online. I'm not talking about some idiot stalker who pretends to be someone he or she is not, but rather how we can mold or shape our own identities into who we would like to be; who we would like others to think we are. Are we truly honest with others, and to a larger extent, with ourselves now that social networking has shrunk the world even smaller?
Years ago I worked for an "oldies" radio station where I created my own on-air persona just for fun. I had our listeners absolutely convinced that I was the world's biggest fan of Bobby Darin. We played it up, too. We raised money for charity by urging listeners to have me sing "Mack the Knife" on the air. I would always introduce Bobby as the "Undisputed King of Rock n' Roll." Bobby's official web site dubbed me, "The Most Dedicated Darin Fan Ever." We even built a Bobby Darin shrine in the studio lobby. A pregnant listener swore she was going to give birth to her baby there. I don't know why. She didn't.
A few years later, I moved on to a country station, where I supposedly fell in love with Sara Evans. I made it an on-air quest to meet her, which I finally did when I bought myself backstage into a meet and greet that lasted all of 30 seconds. I got front row tickets to another concert where I wore a t-shirt that read, "Yes, My World Really Does Revolve Around Sara Evans." And to our listeners, it probably seemed that way.
As a Youth Pastor, it was Mark Schultz. Don't even get me started on that one. My youth group must have known human videos to nearly every song he recorded.
But here's the thing. Those "identities" really did creep into my personal life. I have more Bobby Darin, Mark Schultz, and Sara Evans CD's, photos, autographs and assorted stuff than I know what to do with. I still listen to Bobby and Sara regularly. It's hard to let go of the fun of it all, even though I'm officially retired from radio.
So is it any wonder that now, in this vast world of social networking, there's a whole new identity? Really, I didn't expect the pancake thing to take off like it did. A certain someone we'll call "The Drama Queen Who Shall Not Be Named" tacked the nickname "Pancake Head" on me. Not very original I know, but it's the best she could do. I suppose it was easier to spell that "Pancake Connoisseur." At any rate, the identity stuck, and here I am. Problem is, like Bobby and Sara, I've adopted the identity. I've come up with more odd ways to cook a pancake than Bobby Flay has to barbeque a hot dog. And you know what? That's okay. It really is. You see, when I die I hope people gather around my ashes before my wife sprinkles them off the top of the White River Lighthouse and say, "You know, Pastor Tim was a hoot. He sure enjoyed a good pancake, didn't he?" And then they'll laugh. I hope they laugh heartily.
That, my friends, would be an awesome legacy.