AIM – The Initial Introduction to Self-Naming
Welcome to a non-coding related blog post. I hope you enjoy your stay. Today’s topic? Usernames. I didn’t realize this when I was younger, but when I was about 10-years-old, I was granted access to this program called AOL Instant Messenger or AIM when I was at my uncle’s house and connected to the internet for the first time with my big sister. This was probably negligent on all involved party’s sides, since I spent most of my early adolescence getting all my social needs met through technology when I wasn’t at school with my parents asking me to sneak out and go to parties like my older sisters did, but it also lead to me needing to do something I’d never even considered. Give myself a name with which other people could call me and contact me. A username.
My first few usernames on AIM were rather classy based on the media I consumed at the time. For example, I loved Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon, so my first user ID was DBZMeetsMoon. If this had actually happened, I imagine something like this would be the consequence:
And don’t you dare pretend for a second that you haven’t briefly hoped this would happen as a kid if you were young in the 90s. I’m looking at you DBZ purists who are offended by the possibility.
More Refined Tastes: xXXx/zZZz
As I matured, however, to a socially awkward middle schooler, my tastes also matured. Rather than twirling moon princesses and guys grunting as they glowed colors around them (because grunting makes you glow, clearly, that’s why they say women glow after giving birth), I moved onto giant robots. Gundam Wing.
Consequently, my next username was TrowaBartonGirl. Not to be confused with Trowa Barton’s Girl in a romantic connotation. No, no, I just liked the character Trowa Barton (because who doesn’t admire a guy suffering from amnesia by operating heavy machinery?) and I was a girl, so I decided to combine those two details into a single username. Plus, part of that admiration may have been due to thinking he had romantic inclinations towards another male character in the show.
The Xs? Well, as anyone who ever made a username and ran into it being taken while a pre-teen knows, Xs are super cool, especially when they frame your username. The only cooler letter is Z, which as I realized I was sleepy all the time as a lethargic teenager, I updated my username to include that instead. Brilliance, really.
This same naming trend continued for a few other characters I liked in anime including
Kazuki Fuuchouin from Get Backers and Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho.
Before you need to ask, yes, I liked pretty boys as a teen, and no, for some reason my husband hasn’t said anything about my love of pretty boys forming my appreciation of him. That’s correct, my husband thinks a yellow, blob of a man is more indicative of my attraction to him than the excessive quantities of Japanese culture I consumed. I’ve decided not to think on that too much.
A Misspelled Name of My Own or Don’t Trust Strangers on the Internet
Eventually one of the strangers who I IMed suggested I should have my very own username. A name of my own. Now, I’d seen my fair share of Loverboy69s, HotGurl69, BigButtsUnite69 and other things ending in 69, so I was a bit concerned about this daunting task. Plus, how to choose a name? I could just use the one I was born with, but then people on the internet would clearly relentlessly stalk me and murder me.
Stranger on the internet, with her superior knowledge of Japanese, I language my anime-loving self obviously enjoyed, decided to help me. Now, what she told me was a name meaning “Dark Star” (which I didn’t particularly care for since honestly I thought it sounded silly but in Japanese it looked pretty to my Japanophile eyes), actually meant nothing. It wasn’t a name for anyone, and none of it meant anything at all.
Still, I ended up using that username since I was about 12 until I was around 18. That’s correct, for 6 years I was meaningless pretty sounds, much like a toddler formulating their first sounds.
At 18, I started using variants, taking the first part of the name that meant “overwork” and adding panda to it, because pandas were cute and had dark circles under their eyes, much like me when I don’t sleep.
The Food Phase
Eventually, I reached a point where I had tired of my babbling username. I moved on to food. Sure, I had a dog I loved and adored, and at this time I had created usernames for my parents on multiple sources where they had the formula dog_name + “Caretaker”. Fortunately, they both had their own dogs.
But no. I was a consumer. I consumed food. And at around the age 20, I had tasted my first persimmon. And they were tasty. So my steam log in to this day is Persimmons. However, sometimes I would regress (or forget my persimmons password, associated email addresses, and security question answers) and also have a PersiPanda username as well. I personally liked it a bit more due to the alliteration, and who doesn’t love alliteration? This was essential to success, because clearly if you can’t figure out your account information you might as well just create a new one. Hooray security!
Finally, The Name
Part of undergrad at CMU involved being forced to have an email address of the formula first_initial + last_name for everything. My first initial and last name both started with the same letter, so telling people how to email me was very annoying. After getting married, my husband’s last name is also too short to use this formula due to length requirements. It’s marginally annoying, and it’s boring.
Consequently, the onset of what I consider my responsible adulthood was a mix of annoying emails involving my name, things involving my partial name, and finally an email address including my entire name since Liu is one of the most common last names a Chinese person could possibly have, but not many people with it have my very non-Chinese middle name (given middle names are usually reserved for kiddo’s Chinese names).
This naming structure seems pretty common for old people. Not that I blame them. Admitting you decided to name yourself “kittencuddlesforever1981” is a little awkward given people pick up your birth year and the fact you have an unnaturally love for cats rather quickly. I do miss, though, in the 90s when this wasn’t atypical to share with someone and made my heart filled with awkward love for a very brief way to get to know a bit more about a stranger you were just meeting.
As a result, I feel the username for my twitter handle “theladyliu” was a gentle compromise with responsible adulthood where information is all facts and my rebellious youth where I self-named things I like – in this case, alliteration and period dramas!