A message on Plurk yesterday got me thinking about names a bit. The question related to whether students could change their names on the OU system as somebody had had to endure an evening of being known by their given name as opposed to the name they are known by. I know how much my name matters to me – I just do not identify at all with my given name, and one of my priorities when I started at Sussex was to ensure wherever I could that my name got changed to ‘Liz’. I do not know who is being addressed if anybody speaks to ‘Elizabeth’ – it sure isn’t me! This can cause all manner of confusion at the doctors, dentists, etc.
I then got to thinking a bit about people I know, and particularly people I know better online than in real life. Very often we use different names with our online identities. I am ‘lizit’ in most places and get quite cross when there is already a ‘lizit’ registered, which happens occasionally – how dare anybody have stolen my identity! When I think of my friends, I sometimes have to make a real effort to remember there real names when I am more used to using their virtual identity names. I don’t think I’ve actually called anybody by anything other than their real name yet, but I do think of them by their virtual names.
So my real name is Liz. I think of myself – and identify myself – as ‘lizit’. I wonder what other people do – and what their relationship is between themselves and their different names? A further question, does how I think of myself have any bearing on the extent to which I am immersionist or augmentalist in my relationship to Second Life and other virtual environments?