This got me to thinking about how we choose our online identities and what they really mean to us. The genesis of my name began when I joined Twitter. So much news was breaking on the platform, that I used to say " Ever notice that you hear about stories on Twitter before it reaches the national news?." So people started calling me the "EverNoticeThat Guy" and the name stuck. On the net I became what I talked about.
Passing "The phone test" or "The Identity Test"
If I were to give my opinion on whether someone should change their username, I'd first invoke what I've dubbed "The Phone Test." Which is: If you can't say the name over the phone without the listener asking how its spelled, It's failed the test and should be changed. Now, that only comes into effect with me if a name does not have some deep, heartfelt meaning where changing it would be like losing a part of yourself. This is what I call: "The Identity Test." When a person becomes so identified with a moniker so that they cannot imagine being known as anything else, in that case the name should be kept.
We can't help at times wondering about the origin of some online usernames. For instance, why is @themanwithnoname The man with no name? I can see a post being written about that. Where did @meesterboom come from and who let him out? :) What's the story behind @exyle and can anyone here imagine him being known as anything else? It just fits.
When a Real Name isn't...
Not long ago Facebook began shutting down accounts for not following their Real Names policy. Everyone was suddenly required to post their actual name, after years of being known by a fitting persona. They never thought about how this might affect survivors of domestic violence, and members of the transgender community, for example. A number of well known personalities were ordered to change their names or lose their accounts.
As a child, I was known for questioning everything and having an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I always wanted to know why things were the way they were and always noticed little things that others missed. On Facebook, I'd been "EverNoticeThat" for years with no problem, then suddenly found my account locked when another user complained after having to change their name. I'd never heard of this when I joined. What they didn't understand is that online, I am EverNoticeThat and after many emails I finally gave up and let Facebook go. Knowing how they use your personal information as "you are the product" made the decision much easier.
So this begs the question: How did you choose your online name and what does it mean to you?
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