Why do people (even in real life) call me “Gothick”?

The Short Answer

I stole the name “Gothick” from a William Gibson novel to use as a screen name, and it stuck.

The Long Answer

Back in 1991, I needed a username for a multi-user shared hallucination known as Cheeseplant’s House, run by Daniel “Cheeseplant” Stephens at the University of Warwick. Cheeseplant’s House was one of the earliest internet “talkers”—Wikipedia credits it with being the second.

I needed to invent my first online persona, in other words. Two major influences in my life back then were gothic music, in particular the Fields of the Nephilim, and William Gibson. In Gibson’s Count Zero, he describes the Gothicks:

“At least twenty Gothicks postured in the main room, like a herd of baby dinosaurs, their crests of lacquered hair bobbing and twitching. The majority approached the Gothick ideal: tall, lean, muscular, but touched by a certain gaunt restlessness, young athletics in the early stages of consumption. The graveyard pallor was mandatory, and Gothick hair was by definition black. Bobby knew that the few who couldn’t warp their bodies to fit the subcultural template were best avoided; a short Gothick was trouble, a fat Gothick homicidal.”

This struck a chord with a certain overweight cyberpunk fan who was also massively into gothic music. And thus a nickname was born.

I “met” a lot of people in the virtual world before meeting them in real life. Many people knew me only as “Gothick” until they got to know me quite well. As there were lots of Matts around, too, even people who knew me “irl” would still use “Gothick” for the purposes of disambiguation :)

“gothick” went on to become my username on the Department of Computer Science’s official computer system, and thus my email address, spreading the name even further across the planet. I still use it as a username in systems, because the odd spelling makes it pretty much unique, so I don’t have to muck about trying to find a name that’s still available.

So. That’s the long version of why people call me Gothick, even though I don’t actually dress like a goth, and never used to (I like black tee shirts, but that’s about as far as things go these days.)