As a person who grabbed her surfboard early on to ride the wild waves of the Internet, I've been giving myself a variety of nicknames for at least 10 years, if not more.
I've had a variety of nicknames growing up -- my dad dubbed me "Chippy" because I chipped my front teeth and "Tootsie" just because he could. A gym teacher called me "Vi" for a few years, which I found irritating because she didn't ask me if she could call me that -- she just did.
So when I got online, it was nice to give myself a nickname because I could give myself an image. Obviously, I'm not the only one -- check out this New York Times article:
"Today e-mail handles and screen names often evolve into users' off-line nicknames, and the saucy turns of phrase prevalent in blogs and online forums easily catch fire and leap from computer screen to tongue. Practically everyone and everything now has a nickname, it seems, whether they like it or not."
It's funny how the nicknames have leaped off of the screen. The first time I met Sid, I couldn't help but call her Sid instead of her real name. It was weird hearing her real name -- and I can't help but keep calling her Sid because it's the name she had when I met her (albeit online via a blog), so I'll keep calling her that.
What's even funnier is when I was playing live-action vampire games. There are people there in the game that I never knew their real name. I just knew them by their character's name. What's embarrassing is that at a recent wedding, I could only remember some people by the character's name, not their real name.
I wonder what the motivation is behind these nicknames and avatars that we choose. Is it projecting an image that we want, how we wish to be or how we see ourselves?