A lot of people ask me about my nickname and how I got it. Funny enough, I thought I already wrote a blog post about this, but I can’t find any record of it, so here it is. Obviously, this will be a more personal post than usual, but online identities are a big part of our use of technology after all.
The Original Nickname
I had only just started secondary school (grade 8, or 12 years old) when I started writing websites in HTML and chatting online. My first attempt at a nickname was so bad, it’s embarrassing really, so after only a couple of months, I decided I needed a new nickname.
At the time, I had a minor obsession with Classical mythology, so wanted to choose a name from the Greek mythos, but how to choose? I decided to look up the meaning of my own name to help with my decision. Lo and behold, if you look up the meaning of my name, it usually says something like:
the moon personified as a goddess.
In Greek mythology, the Goddess of the Moon is Selene (Roman: Luna), but I thought that would sound too much like a regular name rather than a nickname. However, often, Artemis was associated with Selene and in many texts, actually listed as the Goddess of the Moon (similar to how Apollo is often referred to the God of the Sun).
I didn’t know it at the time, but I later found out that my name is more associated with the name ‘Artemis’ than I thought:
The Latinized form of Greek Κυνθια (Kynthia) […] means “woman from Kynthos” […] an epithet of the Greek […] goddess Artemis, given because Kynthos was the mountain on Delos on which she and her twin brother Apollo were born (Source: Behind the Name).
I also thought it needed something aside from just the name. Since a bunch of my online friends were part of this trend in adding ‘Lady’ or ‘Lord’ at the beginning of their nicknames, I joined the proverbial bandwagon and created the nickname: LadyArtemis.
IRC Shortening and Current Nickname
Though my nickname was originally spawned for chatting online and which I then used for ICQ, I stopped chatting online to focus on school and my extra curricular activities for a few years and didn’t rejoin online chats until near the end of graduation in the form of IRC.
On IRC, people tended to shorten my nickname in various ways or even call me different names altogether based on my profile information (which had names of TV characters I liked instead of my real name). While the shortening included names like ‘LadyA’ and ‘Artie’, the most common was ‘Arty’.
Since most of the channels (chatrooms) I was in revolved around anime (Japanese animation) or manga (Japanese graphic novels), some people started adding the Japanese diminutive suffix -chan, which is often used for young female friends. Thus, ‘Arty-chan’.
At first, I was using it as an alternate nickname (common in many IRC clients as a backup nickname in case your original connection hadn’t yet dropped, leaving a ghost of your original connection with your usual nickname), but eventually, so many people called me by my alternate nickname in chat that I switched my main and alternate nicknames.
Twitter and Other Variants
Over the years, I’ve used variants of my nickname and real name as my username.
In some cases, it’s my nickname without the hyphen because only alphanumeric characters are accepted (like Steam).
In other cases, it’s because my nickname is taken. I joined Twitter rather late, so my nickname was already taken (only a month earlier!). My partner had decided to use the ‘TheReal’ at the beginning of his nickname since he had the same issue, so I decided to join him by grabbing ‘TheRealArty’. I’ve considered changing it, but I’ve had it for so long that I’m hesitant to change it (plus I wouldn’t know what to change it to).
The Untenable Single Online Identity
Unless you have a unique or very rare (nick)name, it’s difficult to consistently have the same name across all the online platforms you could possibly use. All the more so, if like me, you use a mix of real name and nickname depending on the audience or purpose of the platform.
The only real way for people to know who you are is by cross-reference and cross-linking between platforms. Another alternative I have found is to use a digital business card or similar, which is why I have an about.me account.
The Blend with Real Life
Sometimes people ask me which I preferred to be called, and generally, my answer is that I have no preference. At GitLab and those in the tech industry, I often say, if I had to choose, I would go with ‘Arty’ because that’s how you’ll find me. Others, who I interact with a great deal online first before ever meeting in person, often naturally call me by my nickname without even thinking about it. A friend once asked me what my real name was, because he had completely forgotten what it was. I have had my nickname for so long that
‘Arty’ is just another name.
So, the next time you see me, just use whichever feels natural to you.