Sunday, June 26, 2005

What's in a name? Embarassment.

The Yahoo thing got me to thinking about my online nickname, which I've never liked, and now find myself in the odd position of trying to protect and reclaim.

I first got involved with inflation stuff online in 1994--I'd just moved into my own apartment and it was the first time my PC was away from prying parental eyes. All my friends in college said they were signing up for AOL upon graduation because they thought it was going to be big. At the time, it had a whopping 300,000 subscribers--things were looking up! So I joined too, and then realized I could have an alternate screen name. This, I realized, would be good for trolling Usenet and message boards, as I looked for somebody, anybody, who shared this interest.

I wanted the name "Inflatable"--at the time, AOL gave you 10 characters for a name. It was already taken, by a stage performer named Fred Garbo. The odd part is I'd seen Garbo's act onstage and enjoyed it long before I considered getting an online account. I don't know if Fred still uses it, but it was unavailable, and by the time I finally got the chance to enter the online world as a fetishist, I was desperate and wanted to get started right away. So, since I couldn't find anything else, I exchanged creativity for expedience and went with "Inflate123." The 11-year anniversary of that will be next week, first week of July.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with the name; it's just completely devoid of imagination and I have never been proud to own it. It's as vanilla as it gets--name followed by numbers, and the world's most obvious number string at that (barring "69"). Why not, say, "Infl8able?" I think I tried some of those and they were also taken, and this was in the days before l33tsp33k. But I still regret not coming up with something more distinctive.

And in the time since, I've thought about changing my name to something a little better, but let's face it: I'm stuck with it. My high activity rate over the years, culminating in the Video Vault, sort of cemented my fate. Sure enough, when I got a gmail account, guess which name I chose? Besides, other friends have done this and not fared too well; nothing's worse than asking person A, "Whatever happened to person B?" and have person A say "Dude, that's ME. I changed my name four years ago."

If anybody knows a really good way to transition from one online persona to another, I'm all ears. I'd also love to hear suggestions on a better name than "Inflate123" because, after 11 years, I still haven't thought of anything better. I tend to channel my imagination into more enjoyable tasks. :)

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