When I got connected to the Internet, I had to choose a username, which would represent me in the World Wide Web. Those days I was obsessed with computer games and other stuff, related to IT. I thought of myself as a geek, so I wanted other people to identify me the same way. I was aware that I am too much into computer games and fantasy worlds overall, but that was not something I was shameful of. On the contrary, if people would notice that I played too much, it would flatter me. I was kind of proud of this feature of my personality. So I tried to come up with a username, which would tell about it. If another user of WWW would like to communicate with me, it had to be obvious for him/her, what kind of person he was going to deal with. So the username I came up with was “escapist”. It perfectly matched me at that time. Playing computer games in excessive amounts, bad communicative skills and the absence of social life – all of this had let me to identify myself with a man, who tries to escape the reality, to hide somewhere, where he feels comfortable avoiding facing real world problems.
I liked that username. If I needed to create an account at some of on-line services (email, ICQ, discussion forums) and the username “escapist” was not reserved already, I definitely used it. While posting, using that username, I earned some reputation at the forum, where I spent the most of my time. Plus, all of my on-line pals knew me as “escapist”. I got used to that username and strongly associated my personality with that nickname.
However, after the shift in my mind and perception of reality, caused by panic attacks and depression, I became eager to expand my social circle. To find new friends and to restore the forgotten friendship with the people, I once knew, was my highest priority. I wanted to be more communicative, more social as a person overall. All my thoughts and actions were focused on this goal. But I still used that username – “escapist”.
Pretty soon I had noticed that it feels uncomfortable to sign with it and post using it. I didn’t like the feeling and associations this word brought to my soul and mind. The use of that username made me see myself as an antisocial person, disconnected from reality, locked in some nonexistent world. As you know, I didn’t wish people to treat me this way, ‘cause I was not escaping the reality anymore – I wanted to be a part of it. I tried to be friendly and open for the incoming communications. Thus, my username was creating a strong conflict between the present me and the previous me.
However, I didn’t want to change it. In fact, I had to re-register all my accounts. That was inconvenient. And as I mentioned earlier, my on-line ego was identified with that username. That username was a part of my life. It looked like, if I had to change my phone number or even real world name. Tough challenge. It was like to burn all the ships, and I am not good at burning ships, I have to say.
But the resistance towards the username kept growing. So one day I made the decision to dump the old username at last. In quite a short period of time I came up with another one, but this time I chose the username, which didn’t describe any of my personal traits, so I didn’t have to change it next time I would have experienced a shift in my life values. Then I spent a little time creating accounts at the services I used, typing in the new username and that was done.
As I had thrown my old username out of my life, I felt a decent relief. I felt free from the frames I was putting myself into, while using the old username. The username dictated me my behavior no more, so the inner conflict was resolved at last. I was really happy that I had changed it. And though I still used escapism, but only as the way to restore and accumulate my resources so I could improve the reality eventually.
Do you feel that your username is pulling you back? That you are not that person you used to be and your username isn’t a good match for you anymore? If you didn’t have all those hundreds of posts and other virtual awards, would you change it? If your on-line ego is really valuable to you, you’ve put a lot of efforts in building your reputation, you can always address the administration of the site/forums with the request to change your username without the necessity to create a fresh account. From my personal experience I’ve found out that changing the username may make you feel better overall and it’s no big deal to inform everybody about your new nickname and instant messaging identifier.
January 7th, 2012