It was a hard decision to use my real name after years of hiding behind a handle. For years I successfully avoided it. Obviously that ended up changing. I was taking on my first online journalism job which required an official profile photo and bio–you know, the big times. The photo was easy. But it sat in my draft folder for a few days. Why did people need to know my real name?
I remember one of my first (and worst) usernames ever. I was in junior high and just getting into using AOL chatrooms consistent. My eclectic taste in music had just started evolving, but my upbringing was still rubbing off on me. What was the gem I proudly type in?
Can you feel the pride of a pre-teen? Smell the joy of a naïve soul that doesn’t yet realize it’s about to be shattered? First, it was repeated verbal harassment over not being able to get out of the 70s. Rude comments that made my little heart-break.
Leaving a chatroom seconds after arrival because I didn’t feel comfortable. Once I started defending how young I was, it evolved into lectures over getting out of the 70s and my horrible taste in music. And that was followed by a series of song recommendations for everything but the 70s.
Good ol’ internet love…
There was still that sense of privacy, so I had an easy line between my offline and online personality. Not that there was much difference. It was just the concept I was holding onto for dear life. I spent days contemplating if I was ready to show the woman behind the handle. Obviously, I went with it.
I feel like most people started out that way when social media was just taking off. These days, it’s less of a real option. But I still think it’s useful to a) pick a great online alias and b) have it synonymous with your offline professional life.
I’ll leave the personal branding train aside this time. You all know that conversation by now. Outside of everything else, you just want a name you won’t get sick of. The longer you’re online, the more a quick Google search will show every interaction you’ve had. It’s been a decade with animedancer87. I get just as much of a kick now over answering “what is an anime dancer?” as I did in college.
Because it’s easy to tie your handle to your real name, you don’t want to pick something that will be embarrassing to discuss in a job interview or other social function. Would I want to answer to discolightqueen today? No. It still scars my heart typing it into the blog post now. I have a habit of using one formula for handles: something related to a hobby + something related to music +/- a date of some sort. I have some secondary formulas for my lesser-known alias. Those are being kept secret for now.
Please get more creative than me in that regard…