3.31.2009

On Names and the Internet

Some of you may remember several years ago, when I started dating someone surreptitiously and then 6 weeks into it outed myself on my blog (there were signs prior to that, but nothing overt). I used to call him Le Squeeze and then after we stopped seeing each other but were still friends he became Former Squeeze (or FS). I didn't get any guff from certain quarters **cough**Max**cough** on that affectation.
This year, however, when I start dating someone (less surreptitiously) and try to come up with a suitable Internet pseudonym, it does not pass without comment. I think part of the reason for that is Max is in love and loves broadcasting it. (This is a great thing, since happiness in love is one of the things he has long deserved but only recently found.)

Most of my friends with public blogs have a pseudonym for their S.O. Janiece has the SmartMan (which is a fabulous pseudonym and I am jealous that she already thought of it), Belsum has Mr. B, Nathan has Anon GF, Carol Elaine has CuteFilmNerd. True, not everyone does this (Shawn loves Donna) but a lot do. I think it varies why, but it has a lot to do with privacy. For me, it also is a reference to the fact that I am telling a story. It is from my point of view, so anyone in it is really a character it the story. It's colored by my perceptions. I do my best to be clear when the story is fact and when it is opinion (to be honest, in my opinion (no pun intended) stories that are mostly opinion only have a very specific and limited use).
I find that I often use identifiers other than names in relating stories. For example, I had invited my sister to the birthday dinner, but she turned me down because she was feeling tired. When we arrived at the restaurant, however, there she was! She had changed her mind and decided to secretly come after all! My brother had brought her with him. Yay! I think that's mainly because I have several circles of friends, not all of whom know my sister and brother by name.
Then there's the notion that on the internet, you can redefine yourself. My mum comments here, but I don't call her "mum" here because that takes away her freedom to define herself as someone separate from (but allied to) myself.
Ultimately though, I think it comes down to privacy and distance. I have a public blog. I'm sure there are people who read my blog who I don't know (not counting you very nice lurkers who came here from a friend's blog). Using a pseudonym gives distance between these unknown people and those I care for.

So, since he's the one who sparked the controversy, I asked my boyfriend what he wanted to be called. (On Janiece's blog he's SmartFriend, but he's more than that to me.) He decided on his internet handle: UrbanDK. Interestingly, that's a much more specific and searchable name than just his first name (which I have coincidentally seen about 3 times in the last two days), but everyone's got their own style. [ETA: Scratch that about being searchable. A quick glance through the Google results show nothing related to him and lots of things relating to music and design.] Besides, it's got clever wordplay in it! How can that not be preferable?

So, you'll be seeing UrbanDK (maybe D for short - we'll see) in some of my stories from now on.

Sorry, Max. Get used to disappointment. ;)

10 comments:

Max Cutrell said...

It's not really that big of a deal. I just like teasing you about it. *shrug* I won't mention it again.

Janiece Murphy said...

He'll always be SmartFriend to me.

But I love him (and you) either way, and I think you're correct about Max getting over it.

(No offense, Max.)

Janiece Murphy said...

::shakes fist in air::

Max and I commented at the same time...

Anne C. said...

Maaaaxxxx (you know what that sounds like), I was just teeeeasing! :(

Besides, it something I thought would lead to a good discussion.

Random Michelle K said...

Another data point: I refer to Michael as Michael and always have.

However, the fact we have different last names does give him privacy he might not have if we shared a last name. Although it has more to do with the phone and such being listed in his name, and so protecting his privacy also protects mine.

neurondoc said...

My husband has requested privacy. Because he didn't provide any useful help in coming up with an internet nickname, he is now being called TheHusband (or TH). Lame, I know...

Stacey and JR said...

I like the handle and the fact that he thought about and gave you an answer instead of declining to *play* with us.
JR is JR to everyone but family and if we are alone (or with really close friends) I call him Jim. I had asked him to have a name to call him that wasn't a nickname that came about bc there were too many James' at the bar where he was a manager and that was different from what the rest of the world called him, so that's what we settled on.
Of course, to my GNI circle, he shall always be the one, the only Cabana Boy. (altho I think he wishes we had come up with something more elegant) :)

PS From what I have observed about siblings (not having grown up with any myself), I feel Max can't help teasing you, it's his sibling duty.

Mummy Grabill said...

Stacey is correct - it's Max's sibling duty to tease you. :-) He does it so well!

I agree with you, Anne, that it is an interesting subject and should spark some interesting conversation. I like the new pseudonym - UrbanDK - much better than just D. It provides much more character without revealing any additional information.

As a side note, I choose to keep my blog invite only for the very reason of privacy. I am, of course, revealing much more personal info in my more 'family news' oriented blog, so it makes sense to keep it more protected. I do, however, get to have an internet presence as a commenter on yours (and others') blog and I think that's fun!

kimby said...

Keith used to be The Hubby, until he started blogging, and so now he is just Keith. The kids however still are referred to as Munch and Bug.

belsum said...

You know, I didn't even pick Mr. b. I followed the "Mr. + your own handle" format on the Trek MM and someone there shortened it to just the initial. I then carried that over when I started the blog. It's somewhat moot now since he doesn't use an alias on his own blog. But I still personally am not comfortable posting without using my nom du internet.