Avatars in Wonderland

What’s in a name?


This may come as a shock, but my name is not Charlanna in my first life.  I think it is a pretty name and it has meaning for me, but I might have put a little more thought into it if I knew that I was making a final choice.  A few months back, I had someone named Charlanna in her first life follow me on Twitter which I thought was cool and a little fun.  Yet shortly afterward, she sent me a direct message asking me why I “stole” her name.   Her question surprised me and got a hearty guffaw, but got me thinking, too.   What if my name were Charlanna in the atomic world?  Would she still think I stole it?  Or just think it was cool that we shared a unique name?  I really think her questions of my great name caper came because I had the opportunity to choose it.

Does that which we call a rose smell so sweet by any other name?  Just how much do I share about my name? Does naming matter in Second Life?  Read on after the jump!

I’m happy to enjoy less common names in both lives.  Of course, I didn’t always appreciate having a slightly different name when I was little and wished I could change it.  Even then I knew it was better than having one of the regular names. I felt sorry for all of the Jennifers in my classes; having a slightly different name meant that people knew me by just my first name and I didn’t have to be known as Jennifer V. or something like that.  And just as an acorn grows into a majestic oak tree, I have no question that I grew into my name and my name grew into me.

But in Second Life we are given the opportunity to choose a name.  I’ve blogged a little before on pseudonymity and I think it is one of the things that helps create the culture of Second Life.  Just take a second to think about what the world might be like if we were required by the Lindens to go by our first life name; I suspect it would be pretty different.  After two years, however, I have to say that I feel a strange sense of ownership over my Second Life name.  If someone were to yell “Hey Lanna!” while I was walking down the street in my first life, I’m pretty sure I would respond (or at least look). So while Charlanna is a pseudonym, it has grown into something of my own.

I am one of those people who believes that names can have tremendous power and meaning.  Names matter, but we don’t get to name ourselves in our first life.   So what do we do when faced with the choice of naming ourselves in Second Life?  Of course, people take all sorts of approaches to naming themselves in Second Life.  Some use some part of their real name, some go for whimsical, some use long-standing Internet handles, and some go for, well, the inexplicable.

After hearing a guy share that he lost his digital virginity with an avatar (who has since left SL) named Fuxnow Somethingorother (I can’t recall the last name, but I hardly think that matters), I got stared chatting about Second Life names with a friend.  Not in an SL Name Watch way, which tracks all of the available last names and their release dates, but more of what people choose for their first name.  Being SL, you can imagine that this quickly devolved into giggling silliness as we went hopscotching through search to find progressively ridiculous names.  There are  39 people with the name Vagina and only two named Penis (but nine people named Peenis and 10 if you count PeenisFairy…go figure).  My counts might be off a little, but there are 82 who chose Idiot, 376 with Stupid, 476 Genius, and 138 Brilliants.  924 names with Slut (my favorite was Sluttygoodgirl Sorbet) and 500 some odd variations of Stud (not counting the name “student” and “studio”).  There are 42 Sleepings, five Supines, two Nappings and just one Bedded (I’m a little tired today, can you tell?).  1638 with the name Avatar and 208 named themselves Alt.

Then there are those who come up with fun first names that couple well with the last.  In no particular order, some of my favorites are:  Ridiculously Ordinary, My Beaver, Real Love. ColorBlind Rembrandt, My Ohmai, Hack Writer, Predictable Cliffhanger, AllenAllenAllenAllen Allen, Masturbate Dailey, Floofy Vixen and Creepy Janitor.  Then there is Really Gay who happens to be partnered with Nuts Sack. CanYouHearMe Snoring is also partnered with Denied Flatley.  I’m not sure, but they may well have met through the group “We Have Fu*cked Up Names.” (totally worth a look at the group to scan the fascinating names of the membership!)

I have to wonder if people with really curious names start to feel a sense of ownership over their names in Second Life.  Or if you’re using some part of your first life name, does it feel any different seeing it in SL?  So what about you, dear readers, what does your Second Life name mean to you?