Screen Names vs. Real Names

Do you use a made up name for your online presence, or do you use your real name? When I got started on the Internet, back in 1997 or so, no one used their real names. Unable to think of a good handle, I was dubbed “SpiritGod21” by a friend, based on an inside joke, and began my foray into telnet and talkers. That became my identity for a while–my email address, handle, and eventually a Geocities page all used the same name. But what worked for me in junior high didn’t work as well in college, and I began casting around for a nickname that fit my changed personality better.

This was still before Facebook, or even Gmail, and most people still used nicknames of some sort. Even our university email addresses were a semi-random string of numbers and letters at the time. So when I decided to let SpiritGod21 go, I took on a nickname also inspired by an inside joke: dmmagic.

And now it is around 8 years later. I’m still fond of dmmagic as a handle and I use it on games whenever appropriate, but Google+ and Facebook both prefer we use our real names. I now use my real name for my website, and I’m beginning to feel some internal pressure to use it for Twitter as well. Does “dmmagic” really identify me as well as “MStublefield?” I don’t think it does.

Any expectation of privacy on the ‘Net was gone a long time ago, in my opinion, and I’ve certainly got enough stuff on this site and related to all my handles that it would be quite simple for someone to tie all my accounts together through some Google searching. Using a screen name was never intended as a way to hide. Rather, it was a unique way to identify myself, and I’m not sure how well dmmagic does that anymore.

That said, I am loathe to let it go. If I change my Twitter handle, which is really easy to do and you still retain all your followers and connections, someone else might take the old one. Just like I was known by SpiritGod21 for a long time, I don’t want to lose the identity that I associate with dmmagic. I think it represents for me my childhood, while MStublefield is an adult’s screen name. MStublefield is professional and responsible, while dmmagic is fun and carefree.

My Twitter is used more for business than personal use now, though. I still Tweet stuff I find interesting, but a lot of the content is related to my job or is to connect with people in IT. For that context, MStublefield makes more sense than dmmagic.

I’ll remain undecided for at least a few more months, and probably another year or so, but I have a strong feeling that the era of dmmagic is coming to an end.

One thought on “Screen Names vs. Real Names

  1. Someone recently ask my wife if I was going through my second childhood, she replied, “Who said, he ever got out of his first childhood?”. There is a lot of truth in that. I still use Elstar on most of the stuff I put online. Always have, probably always will. Yes, most anyone can figure out who it actually is, but who cares, I don’t. You have your professional life and your personal life, live them as you choose. If you like a, handle, keep it, I will mine. Never worry about what other folks think, they are too busy worrying about what other folks are thinking….

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