I like stories of how people come up with their screen names. It’s a fascinating modern phenomenon, giving yourself a name that can simultaneously obscure your public identity while revealing private ones. Some people use a single name for all their internet presences. I’ve used a good number over the years, some that I’ve felt connected with, others that I haven’t. I think the first screen name I ever came up with was something about jaguars or ocelots on Yahoo Games when I was eight. Here’s a roughly chronological tour through my online self-appellations:
- eskiedomain6: I’d recently gotten my first puppy, an American Eskimo Dog or eskie, so I decided on that for a screen name. I’m not sure why “domain.” It seemed like a good idea at the time? The number 6 came not because there were already five other eskiedomains, but because it happened to be my favorite number. (Six is a perfect number, a factoid I learned when I was six-years-old.)
- silver_phoenix_rules_4_ever_59 (or something to that effect): This was when I discovered what underscores were. Dang, was I excited about them. I wasn’t even into phoenixes that much, I just thought it sounded cool. Even my ten-year-old self recognized this was stupid and unintelligible and soon adopted a new email address.
- zucchini_bikini: I don’t think I’d ever eaten zucchini when I came up with this screen name. I certainly didn’t own a bikini, much less one with vegetables on it. I just thought it was a neat rhyme.
- aries_4_ever: A fairly simple etymology: Aries is my astrological sign. I referred to myself online as Aries, and even developed a bit of a persona or character based on the name. She was eleven-year-old me’s idea of a cool young adult. Red or auburn hair, red wings, jeans with flames on the bottoms. Exactly what I ended up looking like when I was nineteen.
- clairbear87 (I don’t remember the numbers): Another rhyming screen name, based this time on my middle name. I know, Bear is a pretty awesome middle name.
- limony_liquer: Invented shortly after I found out about limoncello. Limoncello… such a wonderful sounding word. Mind you, this was seven years before I’d actually tasted limoncello, seven years before I discovered I don’t actually like it.
- vermillion_rose: A pretty combination, simply words that sound beautiful together. I don’t think I realized until after I stopped using this name that vermilion was spelled wrong.
- ruzhice: Means “little rose” in Croatian. I like the way it sounds (ROO-zhee-tseh). I guess I had a thing for rose names at the time.
- Dirigible Ink: Doesn’t really have to do with airships. I’d just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when I needed to come up with a new online name. I remembered the “Keep Off the Dirigible Plums” sign outside the Lovegood residence and thought, “Dirigible is a cool word. I should use that!” I didn’t want the name to be a Harry Potter reference, though, so I went with “Ink” instead of “Plum.” I would explain to people curious about the name that Dirigible Ink was ink made from dirigibles that coincidentally worked best when one was in a dirigible.
- dirin: A contraction of Dirigible Ink, used mainly as a throwaway name.
- dirigiblev/dirigibleV: Another variation on Dirigible Ink. I wanted to use a name that was similar but not quite the same, though I don’t remember why. The “v” comes partly from V for Vendetta, but more so from V. by Thomas Pynchon, one of my favorite novels.
- northern.storms: Another throwaway name, but with a better story. When I spent summers between college years back home in Tampa, I noticed that the afternoon rainstorms tended to drift by to the north of where we lived. Around three or four in the afternoon, the northern horizon would darken. I’d watch the rains fall wondering why they never came down here. I typed up a story beginning about someone waiting and watching for the northern storms. I just liked that phrase and decided to use it. I’ll come back to that story some day.
Reflecting now, it seems I’ve chosen most of my names over the years not for any particular meaning or identity but because I’ve found words that sound good together. And that fascination with words certainly is part of who I am. Most of these names are no longer attached to me in any way. Others on the internet have claimed them as their own. These names are now just a few reminders of my misspent youth on the internet. They remain part of my identity in that way, even if I no longer identify with them.
What are the stories behind some of your screen names, abandoned or current? What embarrassing names did your twelve-year-old noob self think were the awesomest things ever?