out of thin air

How tied are you to your username? By username, I mean any username on any platform. Would you change it? I have a very silly and short poll if you are willing:

I have a friend who changes her instagram username constantly (or so it seems like it). When everyone else sticks to their username till death do them part, she changes hers to outrageous and funny new ones. Previous examples that I can remember:

  • promstar – nearly marked her as spam as it looks like something else
  • lil_miss_nauseous  – see above ^
  • smileprettygirl – based off of the creepy men who ask women to smile more
  • a_gay_angel – her current one

She’s the only person I know out of the 500 and something people I follow on instagram that regularly changes her username. This really struck me as I felt fear and panic thinking about changing mine away from annezazu even though there’s very little chance anyone would take such a weird username (it’s why I chose it).

Of course this meant I had to change mine. In an impulsive moment, I did it and changed my username to nothingiscasual after something a friend of mine said to me in Paris. She was giving me grief for being so serious and said, “Nothing is casual with you”. It made me laugh and then pause because of its accuracy. Ever since, I’ve realized it pretty accurately describes my intensity for authenticity.

Since changing my username on instagram (the last social media account standing for me), I realized how much fun it was. It also felt like an excellent practice in letting go of things that are frankly somewhat meaningless. I’m already on the look out for my next one. This reminds me that I’ve been thinking of trying on “Guion” for size (my middle name). It excites me as it’s a bit more gender neutral than “Anne” and it’s just frankly a cool name.

Ironically, at work this week, I changed my slack username as a way to signify my feelings about a recent change (or lack thereof). It was so much fun to think of changing one’s username as a way to communicate something larger. It also begged the question of identity – numerous folks thought I might have been hacked because the name was so outside the norm and so few people change their names anyway once they pick one. This makes sense from an organizational point of view but I think it goes deeper to an emotional reason. I mean we could have just as easily made changing names a very common every day practice amongst humans if that’s how society was structured. Instead we make name changes incredibly annoying (or so I’ve heard). I think we forget it could easily be the other way around! Why did we start naming each other anyway? At least I have my own name and I’m not just named after my father.

Why are we so tied to our username? Why have I had the same one for probably 5 years? I don’t know. I guess our online personas so strongly are tied to us that we become just as tied to them. Our username becomes our name online and changing that feels daunting. We are silly creatures who cling to things we create out of thin air – like names whether they are given to us by our parents or typed into a small text box on our screens 🙂 I love it. I love thinking about this stuff.

Photo by Gilles Lambert on Unsplash


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