The Return of the Nickname

The Return of the Nickname

Not having an online presence is starting to be as odd as not having a telephone number at all. A “what’s up with you then?”

Besides the fact that it is just … odd … it’s also increasingly impractical. Like not having a car to extend the range within which you can work, not having an online presence is limiting the number of times you’re going to be accepted for a job.

Why You Have To Be Present Online

cocktail party

When nary the geek could get online and “do” HTML to make a web page, online presence needn’t apply to everyone.

When Geocities made What You See Is What You Get (sort of…) web page designers or when Blogger launched – you still didn’t need an online presence because back then being online was just that: being online.

Since the rise of social media and now social networking it has become: being online.

Nicknames & The Second Profile

Back in the day” we used nicknames. Remember? Online was dangerous and you needed to remain somewhat anonymous.

So when Jane would join a fishing board she would be “flylady18” or when John would sign into his parenting forum he’d be “DaDude” or something.

What we experience now is that by being online as ourselves, we have no privacy. The lady going to the beach while “sick” is spotted via Facebook and fired. The disgruntled employee airing via Twitter has made a company enemy for life.


So the next wave will be regular people maintaining multiple social networking accounts; one under their own real name and at least one other under an assumed name.

These nickname profiles will enable people to be themselves online without fear. To vent. To talk about books, songs, movies, artists, that are otherwise just “not done”.

They’ll allow people to be on vacation, post to their close friends and relatives and not have the boss expect them to therefore be in reach of the telephone and thus work.

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8 Replies to “The Return of the Nickname”

  1. i used a nickname first.. because i was going into undercover law enforcement.. up until 2 years ago i didnt use my real name and did negative seo on my real name… now.. my real name is my work “persona” and my nickname is my after hours weekend, personal “persona”.. i still don’t swear, drink, or take pictures with naked women on either profile.. but i did delete my myspace profile a few years back for those very reasons..

  2. Interesting topic for sure. I have been using a nom de plume for years (1997) I thought that was normal because of privacy issues. Now, it’s almost imperative to use your real name if you do work online. I have never been much of a “corporate” person and at this stage of my life I doubt I will change. Therefore, when I read about employers reading or looking for information online about a potential employee or full time employee I find it intrusive, unacceptable and unnecessary. Actually scary to think how many things they already ask. From credit history, to taking a “drug” test. Bahhh not my cup of tea, you can keep it thank you!

  3. So you too keep maintaining at least one different persona to be able to do or say things out of the limelight. Do you find it hard to do so?

  4. Honestly Ruud, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the limelight. Back then using a “nifty handle” was the “thing” to do. Now the only reason I still have a nom de plume is simply because the accounts were started under that name. Now I can appreciate how time & confusion would come into play if someone who has to do this… it would be time consuming. As someone who is highly organized I would probably figure out a system that works for me thus, keeping things in order. ;)

  5. Interesting post Ruud, and I think you’re right in your observation / prediction. I have done this on Facebook but found managing many accounts confusing so I downsized from three accounts (professional, social, personal) to two (professional & social/personal) and just use more filters now. Seriously considering doing it on Twitter as well.

  6. fascinating post. Facebook doesn’t want to hear about multiple accounts so I don’t risk creating multiple accounts there (though I have a “dev” dummy account – ssh!). That said, it all started with Google for me – I started with personal gmail and then back when G Suite accounts were free – I sprouted a zillion identities (each with sub-identities under different domains and teams!) – then I went on a mission to see if I could invent an “email router” and once I got my domain, I played around with different contexts (eg. I was even inspired by Yahoo!’s Address Guard (eg. so I proceeded to copy this idea. then, not surprisingly, it all got of of hand and became complete INSANITY. I have no regrets and still juggle probably on the order of 10 “real” email accounts (physical later) and prolly still have a 10-20 G Suite aliases I still use on my own domain. It’s been a process. I have no regrets “expanding” my email presence to handle the deluge of information that is thrown at us and try to “make sense” (aka. sensemaking) of it all and really ask myself the tough questions in regards to what emails/accounts really provide value and why?

    It took quite some time to find a voice on Reddit and discovered it’s not possible to change my username so I am my real identity there amongst millions who have their alternate name. yes, I admittedly encounter times I’d want to say something or state a certain view anonymously and after a few months during this shelter-in-place, I’ve concluded I’m still me and I just post what I think. This is freeing in many ways.

    And at the same time, I do have a few alternative handles out there that give me some peace of mind around privacy and in particular, peace of mind thoughts are not associated with my professional identify on the net in particular.

  7. I think Reddit is a good example of how liberated people can feel with a handle, a nickname, versus their personal life attached to an account. It’s good to be in a place “where everybody knows your name” (HT: Cheers) but we all need some smaller bubble too

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