I shared a Facebook account with Alan for the second half of my senior year of high school. He got access to my account one day, and I couldn’t figure out how to get him out. I’m not sure exactly how he did it. I don’t think I ever told him my password, but we had been friends for a long time, and he knew me very well, so maybe he just guessed.
It was kind of fun to be only one half of an online persona. There was plenty of collective confusion from our friends that we had a good time playing off of. Who was this, really? Who was saying what? Why was this happening? We always answered as vaguely as we could.
When Alan decided that it was time for him to leave my account, he left a mess behind him. While a lesser artist would have just left an obvious post about sucking dick, that wasn’t enough for Alan. He had a much more powerful vision.
He updated my profile picture to a black and white photo of me without a shirt on. The top two buttons of my pants were unbuttoned, the waistband of my underwear just visible. I had a robe draped around me and lay splayed on one side like a classical model, a single nipple revealed, staring off into the distance. He changed my name to “Prepared Anus”. This was the Viking funeral of our joint persona.
I was slow to take any of it down. I had become used to being part of a collective whole, to not having full control over my own presentation. I was used to Alan putting things back up when I took them down. I was used to our collective responsibility for the content we shared, for the shape of an identity that was not quite either of the two of us, but acted as a stand in for both. But now Alan was gone, and this image was only mine, no longer an amorphous shadow of two people, just a bare outline of me.
The photo was fairly easy to take down, but Facebook wouldn’t let me change my name back, because I had already changed it too many times before. I eventually sent them a picture of my ID, and my legal name was put back on my account, but Alan’s work stayed up for three or four days. I left an empty frame where my face was supposed to be for a while, unsure if I should claim the space as mine again.
Online detritus of Alan’s prank continued to float to the surface as the years went by. Services linked to Facebook were slow to reflect the fixes I made, and so years later, the calendar on my computer still marked June 26th as “Prepared Anus’ Birthday”. I almost prefer it to logging into my account and seeing my legal name. No matter how many times I ask the website, that name will not budge. According to them, Alan was the last person allowed to change it.