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This is the origin story of spreadfire. It’s mostly about the birth of the name and only tangential about the person behind the pseudonym. Fear not for the messiah has come.
I picked this pseudonym about 20 years ago when I needed an alias or “nickname”, as we said in gamer circles, playing Counter-Strike. At the time, I mostly used funny joke names in games. My mates were playfully bugging me to get a “real” nickname. One that sounded cool or fear-inducing to our opponents. So my juvenile teenage mind came up with “spreadfire”. I even was a little proud of my creativity. I found out later that the term was translated differently than I originally thought.
A literal translation of the German “Streufeuer” to “spreadfire” would fit perfectly. The actual translation is zone fire or searching and traversing fire. In gaming terms, especially in shooters, this would be: controlled burst fire or spray and pray; searching fire. That wouldn’t have sounded so cool, though. Like spreading both fire and fear among my enemies.
Years later, when playing the MOBA game Heroes of the Storm, I could add another meaning to my cap. There was a hero (playable character) named Ragnaros, who is the Firelord from World of Warcraft. So I predominately picked him to literally spread fire, using his fire-themed abilities to pwn my opponents. Alright, so much for that. I won’t go into my gaming past too deep. Maybe another time.
To this present day, I still use this handle pretty much everywhere online. Sometimes I was forced to add a trailing ONE (spreadfire1) since spreadfire was already taken on some platforms. Shows that it wasn’t all that creative and rather generic after all, but I like it and it stuck. spreadfire ONE, referring to my competitive gaming mindset that I was the first and the best. The real, the one and only, the unique spreadfire1. There are eight billion people on earth and everyone’s unique, I know.
Instagram and other social media
Serene, extreme and keen on green.
Low angles and other curious perspectives.
Instagram profile optimization 101:
- Catchy name and title? Check.
- Poetic description? Check.
- Stylish picture of the handsome photographer behind the profile? Check.
I have to admit, spreadfire1 sounds rather impersonal for a personal account. I seriously thought about changing it to come across more personable and approachable. If I cared about privacy and anonymity, I could have even made up a generic pseudonym that sounded more like a person is behind the profile. To prevent people from superficially seeing a cold, soulless concatenation of English words strung together. My reasons for keeping it nevertheless and using it instead of my real name or anything else?
- Consistency throughout all platforms.
- Brand recognition: Should I ever become famous, and also for better Google searchability.
- Self-confidence & pride: I’m proud of myself. I believe in myself. I want to remind myself where I’m coming from and what I’ve been through. Even though I rarely play games anymore, it is a part of me and my story.
Expansion to Quotes & Blog
With opportunity and necessity arising, I found my handle to be delightfully versatile. I could induce meaning like to spread anything like fire. Or compared to the phrase “spread like wildfire”. Similar but with heightened importance. If information spreads like wildfire, a lot of people hear about it in a short period of time. It’s the old-school equivalent of “going viral”, I guess.
In the description and motto of my quotes page, spreadfirequotes, I write for example:
stuff wise people said. 🔥 spread reason & enlightenment 📖 😍 for tolerance & peace 🕊️
One could say, I’m trying to spread the fire of reason, enlightenment, tolerance, peace, love, [insert honorable, desirable, altruistic qualities here], … (more on that in my first blog article, A New Age of Reason And Enlightenment Is Dawning)
Analogous to that, my blog slogan is:
Spread the fire of education and reason. Like the caveman that first discovered fire and spread it, thus initiated technological advancement of our species.
The next one probably is a bad analogy because it relies on two different meanings of the word “spread”:
Spread fire like I spread my fingers for the Vulcan salute – as I do in my website logo and Instagram profile picture.
What is that hand gesture all about? If you thought it couldn’t get any nerdier, I have to disappoint you. The Vulcan salutation was devised by Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed the half-Vulcan character Spock on the original Star Trek television series. Among other things, I love it for its noble-minded and secular purport “Live long and prosper”.
Seems like I’m living up to my real name, Jeremias, who was one of the major prophets of the Hebrew Bible. Now I could claim that I prophesied all the different meanings and use cases of “spreadfire”. That I knew all along how fitting and relevant the name would stay, venturing into all kinds of paths through life. Or maybe and more likely, humans are just good at post-hoc rationalization. Making reality fit their narrative after the fact. Like it is the case with so many prophecies that are stated in vague or generic language. People want to believe them and read things into their biased interpretations of reality. This is a topic for another article, though.
So not all the different meanings of spreadfire were intended from the start. Obviously, some were mere coincidences. Despite knowing about the human cognitive faculty of post-hoc rationalization, I still find this fascinating. How this story played out so far. How the pieces of the puzzle seem to be made to fit together. People like romantic, idealizing stories like that. This concludes the short summary of the first chapter about spreadfire with many more to come. Probably years from now, when there’s more to tell. Will there be a fairytale ending?
Rationalization in psychology
A short detour to the Wikipedia article, which contains interesting information about the topic:
In psychology and logic, rationalization or rationalisation (also known as making excuses) is a defense mechanism in which controversial behaviors or feelings are justified and explained in a seemingly rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation, and are made consciously tolerable—or even admirable and superior—by plausible means. It is also an informal fallacy of reasoning.
Rationalization happens in two steps:
A decision, action, judgement is made for a given reason, or no (known) reason at all.
A rationalization is performed, constructing a seemingly good or logical reason, as an attempt to justify the act after the fact (for oneself or others).
Rationalization encourages irrational or unacceptable behavior, motives, or feelings and often involves ad hoc hypothesizing. This process ranges from fully conscious (e.g. to present an external defense against ridicule from others) to mostly unconscious (e.g. to create a block against internal feelings of guilt or shame). People rationalize for various reasons—sometimes when we think we know ourselves better than we do. Rationalization may differentiate the original deterministic explanation of the behavior or feeling in question.
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