I don’t know about you, but my identity is splashed upon all kinds of different medias.
I’m talking about forums, blogging, Twitter… anything from web albums to social networking sites. If it’s clean and accessible, I’ll have an account. Bonus points if I can provide a picture and indulge in touch of shameless self-promotion while I’m there (follow me! @CathyCwaffy).
With millions of networking sites parading their red arses around the internet, it’s almost impossible to admit your identity isn’t streaked all over at least one of them. (That metaphor didn’t sound as disgusting in my head, I can assure you.) With the amount of traffic popular sites receive, there’s one key feature you have control over to let everybody know who you are – your username.
Yesterday I was contemplating the importance of a username whilst sitting on the bus after a failed job interview. Recently I’ve been considering changing my Twitter username to be something more relative to the posts I make, and the potential followers I want to receive. At the moment I’m called CathyCwaffy (as mentioned above), but given the sudden shift from my tweets being mainly about me and the odd personal twist on a TT, to being a committed Little Monster, I felt that a catchy variation of my own name combined with a Gaga lyric would be more… “appropriate”, if you know what I mean?
CathyCwaffy is a nickname based on a joke I have with my boyfriend. Seeing as how none of my “real life” friends are on Twitter (or if they are they haven’t mentioned it… bitches), the reference is completely wasted on the wrong crowd. I thought it would be better to switch it to something with a bit more relevance to what I tweet about – a cutesy little nickname doesn’t exactly represent the shit I post.
That in itself got me wondering about how far usernames represent your identity online, and especially how they can be manipulated to portray a certain identity you have created for yourself. It doesn’t even end at usernames – it applies to any variation of your own name you have in “real life” with your buddies, or your family, or that sexy person you have in your bed. It’s interesting how by changing a little part of the name you were born with can transform your characteristics completely, while still being an accurate portrayal of yourself.
For example, at home, my parents call me Catherine. That is my name, it’s what I was born with, and it’s the thing I’ve lived with my entire life. Yet, my friends call me Cathy. I’m different around them than how I am with my parents, but “Cathy” is just as much of a part of me as “Catherine” is and will ever be.
I started posting on forums under the username “Cat C” (which I’m sure you’re familiar with because how else would you find yourself here?) around a year ago. It was a name spawned from a quick decision on The Green Day Authority, after I found that you needed to create an account on “Disqus” to post a comment on a piece of news. Although this was extremely obscure, the “likes” you received as a commenter were tallied, and I became the most active and “liked” commenter on the website. I felt I’d created an entirely new identity as a witty commenter, with a taste for rock and roll, and a name which reminded me of “Kat Von D”.
Deciding to eventually join the forum attached to the website, I used the same username to be easily recognisable. Over the past year this is all I’ve used – I’ve created an internet identity for myself and sealed the deal on websites a million times over.
I am Cat. I’m Catherine. I’m Cathy. I’m Miss Psycho Sexy on the side. Sometimes I feel as though Cat is so synonymous with its creation via Green Day, that it’s hard to develop new interests I want to throw out there and show off. But that’s the beauty of a name – just like a new pair of boots you can make a beeline to the shop and wear a brand new pair the next day. A name is nothing concrete. It’s just an extension of ourselves, and we can be whoever the fuck we want to be.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll think of a new name – a brand new representation of myself, who I can use to reinvent everything “Cat” was and is, to indulge in another part of my personality which hasn’t had the chance to shine just yet. My conclusion on this hour long bus ride was that names are like clothes. You wear them as an extension of your identity. They can be changed, binned, and collected. But at the end of the day, you’re the one who decides what to put on.