Choosing Identity

Chances are you chose your nickname. That’s new.

It used to be that when you met someone who chose their own nickname, or who introduced themselves with a nickname, you could tell that they were trying to make that nickname stick. They wanted you to call them that, and then, as a simple act of punishment for violating a social contract, you would ignore what they asked to be called. This is especially true if the nickname was a particularly cool nickname.

These days, that’s pretty much the complete opposite.

You have to choose your own nickname these days. You have to choose your own name – when you operate online, you’re given so many opportunities to represent yourself and conventional wisdom is to avoid using your ‘real’ name. You wind up creating this second skin to wear in digital spaces. By making the internet more accessable to more people, we’re making this gift, this ability to determine yourself more available.

This is having a fascinating knock-on effect. I’m of course talking about GRSM folx, marginalised minorities, identity strugglers, those people who are either told by society what you are is wrong, or there are no people like you, and the host of other messages that oppress in the silent, suffocating way they do. These people are given this chance to name themselves – and even just that one opportunity opens a door in the mind. You don’t have to be who you’re told you are.

Originally, this blog post was going to go onto my uni blog, where I was ultimately pitching it to teachers who kind of expect a first-year stupid kid to write it, but let’s not.

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