I’ve gone by sushimustwrite since around 2002. Its origins are murky, but I do remember that I registered for NaNoWriMo under a sushimustwrite email address, and at Hotmail! I never used that name regularly until NaNo entered my life and I needed a username. At the time I didn’t realize what an impact a simple choice of username would have, but now I’d have a really hard time changing it.
This name has seen me through most of my teenage years and my early twenties. It has seen me through thousands and thousands of NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy forum posts, an everyday life blog, too many site registrations to name, and this website. What started out as a casual nickname for my preteen self turned into part of my identity, one that if parted with, would cause more confusion than good.
So when Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal that today’s youth may have a chance to change their name upon reaching adulthood to escape their online hijinks, people started to wonder: was he serious? And if he is, should this be limited only to budding adults? Doing crazy things on the Internet isn’t limited to minors, after all. I still have my old cringeworthy blog entries from my teenage days online, and the NaNoWriMo site archive has my old forum posts. That doesn’t make them any more cringeworthy than my blog posts or forum posts from my early adulthood. It only takes a quick search of public Facebook statuses to see the crazy stuff adults are posting to Facebook. I think they’d want to disassociate themselves with statuses stating how much they hate their boss or what went down at that club last night more than any teenage shenanigans. Sure, some teenage postings may not always be legal, but adults are the ones who need the lesson now, lest important people in their lives see it. Kids just need to learn that what they and their friends post will be up for a very long time–oh, and that their parents could be watching what they post.
As for a name change? No thanks. My unique name (and I really do mean unique–searching for my real name gives you only three or four pages of results, all of which are actually me) may be a curse in the search world, but it’s also a blessing. I registered a six-letter dot-com today, saving people seven letters of typing.