I got an email with this photo attached from my youngest daughter some time ago. The email read: "DAD! Is this YOU!!"
What was I to do, lie? Or tell her that yes, it was me, and have her live the rest of her life with that stigma, that image of her dad following her around the Internet for all the world to see?
Fortunately, she took it very well. And yes, that is me - yours truly, Jim W. Coleman. And I will tell you the story.
First, I was peeved that someone stole that image and used it without my consent, especially since there were copyright notices all over the site that they stole it from. And yes, that is actionable. But I got over it quickly when some of my other friends started sending it to me with laughs and smiles and good-natured ribbing. Yes, someone was very creative and yes, the image is amusing.
But before I give you the backstory, you may wonder if I'm being up front. Is this REALLY me? How can I prove it? There are lots of ugly nerds running around out there - this could be anyone.
Well, I can prove it. I can give you ANOTHER photo, taken the same day - a photo that has never traveled through a network or router until this day, so it really is the first time anyone other than me has seen the photo.
The year was 1995. I was working at the Bremerton Sun newspaper (today it is called the Kitsap Sun newspaper). It was Halloween and everyone in the office was encouraged to come to work in costume. Back then, I ran a multi-node PCBoard BBS system called "MLPNet"- a science-related bulletin board system that focused on NASA, the Space Shuttle program and seismology. It was a well-known, far-reaching network back in the day and was featured in several newspapers and magazines. This was pre-Internet, though by 1995, the Internet was starting to gel and take hold in business and parts of the population. While most of my guy friends were chasing girls and racing cars, I was building PC's, running OS2 Warp against Windows 95 and writing programs in Basic.
So it was only fitting that on that Halloween day, I dressed the part. I still remember shopping for the clothes. The pants and shirt came from the local Goodwill. The glasses were just empty frames. The pocket protector was real, man. So, too, are the memories...
If I had known at the time that this photo would someday go worldwide on something called the Internet, I might have done a little more with my hair.
Just remember: YOLO - You only live online. And so do I. :)