How did you choose your Twitter name?

When we’re born into this world, we don’t have a say in what our parents name us.

We’re given a moniker for life that tickles their fancy. It’s assigned without our say and – unless we’re among the rare few who feels compelled to officially change their name – we go through school, life and romance with that name.

But when it comes to the digital world, we can choose almost any name. And that choice can be exciting, scary, vexing – and very easy or very difficult.

How did you choose your Twitter name?
How did you choose your Twitter name?

I don’t know if anyone has conducted research into Twitter names, but there appear to be some broad categories for our choices:

  • Use your real life name
  • Find your ‘real life name’ has been taken and use something as close to it as possible. For example @mjprak or @itsmichelleprak
  • Use the good old underscore for example @michelle_prak or use a meaningful number with your name @michelleprak1970
  • Weave in a passion or your profession, ie @bieberforever @retailgal @bookstoreboy
  • Come up with something completely random and silly (often under pressure when quickly opening a Twitter account and with no time to ponder the long term ramifications) like @bonzaibanana @itsgettinghotinhere
  • There are some who weave the term ‘tweet’ or ‘Twitter’ in their handle and that makes me laugh. It’s absolutely redundant. Why call yourself @PrakTweets when it’s bloody evident that it’s Prak tweets?

If you want your Twitter account to be anonymous, that will certainly flavour the context of your name and you can be very witty and even open a parody account, if you have the time and energy to sustain it.

But here’s a tip: if you ever, ever intend on using Twitter to meet people in real life, do give your Twitter handle some second thought. Would you be happy approaching someone at a conference or Twitter social event and saying ‘Hi, I’m @juicygoldfish’ or ‘Hello, I follow you, I’m @rancidmophead’. (Some of you may relish that as a bit of fun. Myself, I think that’s some awkwardness I don’t need. I’m sure I’d soon tire of explaining where the name came from).

It’s like having an embarrassing hotmail name that you finding yourself giving to a potential employer. “Yes, please email me the job and person spec. My email is RandyDenimGal69”.

For me, choosing ‘Prakky’ was easy because it borrows my real-world surname and it’s what my high school best friends called me. How did you choose your online name?

25 Comments Add yours

  1. Prakky says:

    Thanks to @cherryrocketeer for the reminder: many Twitter names are carry-overs of gaming names.

  2. Ash Simmonds says:

    I’m not particularly clever so I let mama bear choose it for me.

  3. derekandkong says:

    I embarked on an exhaustive process of research by listing everybody in my household, ordering that list according to the criteria of both importance and who was most likely to actually use the account, and then sticking the word “and” between them.

  4. Caroline Horn says:

    Well, I like to pretend to be a writer but really I am a bit of a bludger so….. @bludgingwriter it is. Plus if I went down the same path as you and added a ‘y’ to my last name I could have got some very interesting followers.

  5. Lee Hopkins says:

    My Dad wanted to call me Nick. Apparently he thought of it one day whilst shaving…

  6. Chris Oaten says:

    My nick was chosen to be consistent with my other online entities. At a number of forums I am known as coaten. My mobileme address contains coaten as does my Gmail account. I figured it helps people who know me through other online channels to recognise and trust me.

  7. 1_manonabicycle says:

    mine is a play on a literary reference to one of my favorite books – ‘three men in a boat’…I ride a bike, there’s only one of me, so it wrote itself 🙂 the added value was the ‘three men in a boat’ subtitle…’to say nothing of the dog’…I’ve used this as a subtitle for my blog and elsewhere, but my dog is the black dog, depression

    my name is a positive thing, but I also pay homage to that part of me that isn’t the prettiest…but by naming it, you own it, and that’s cool 🙂

  8. Steve Thomas says:

    When your first name is Steve and your last is Thomas, any handle based on your real name is problematic. So I long ago started using “spotrick” everywhere. Not (too) embarrassing to share, and easy to remember.

    It’s also good to have a shorter name.

  9. I find it so great to meet people who know me as @killermousemml. It makes for some hilarious conversation.

    My reason is a bit like Chris O – consistency – killermouse has been our user name for almost everything for the past 15 years and mml is for Megan, Mark and Lucy – pretty boring really. It seems someone else has that kooky name too.

    Mouse was an affectionate family nickname for both of us, and we saw this fabulous documentary on this little mouse in Arizona that was the cutest thing ever, except at night when it howls at the moon and then heads of to hunt some pretty deadly prey. Anyway we fell in love with the sheer brazenness of this little creature it and the name stuck ever since.

  10. Mine’s a bit of a no brainer really – I did start using CathieT everywhere – but there is another CathieT who is a webby designerry person and so CathieTranent it was.

    I agree that it is much easier to have a “sensible” handle when you’re meeting people for the first time.

    Now – the other thing we need to touch on is avatars ………

  11. Adam Szuster says:

    I shose Syrilion when I was running my record label back in 1999. It was formed from the name of a software company whose product I was using ‘Syntrillium’. I liked the sound of it and adapted it to my needs.

    It has been my online handle ever since. It types well too, plus it is short, making it ideal for Twitter.

    But I do use my real name in my Twitter profile, just in case I need it in real life!

  12. drew says:

    Before I was @idrewthis, I was tweeting for about 4-6 months as @bully. This must have been back when you could still pretty much get whatever damn name you wanted. (So this blog post would have gone down well say, 5 years ago.)
    Idrewthis is the neglected blog name. Bully is now being not used by someone else. Some days I wish I could have it back.

  13. Cate Pearce says:

    I started my twitter life with my full real most-oft-used name, Cathy Pearce, but unfortunately it was about the same time as another certain Cathy Jayne Pearce was hitting the front page of the paper almost every day. Within 2 weeks I had lost count of the number of times I had been asked if I was ‘that’ Cathy Pearce, so through a bit of trial and error I became CateP36. And no, I’m not 36.

    1. Prakky says:

      Fascinating, Cate! I had no idea.

  14. Miranda says:

    When I started on twitter, I had my real name, but then had a crazy internet paranoia thing. I decided to change my name too something a bit more anonymous (sort of). Years ago a work mate nick named me maz, and it stuck. I got dozens of variations, and amongst my favourites was “mazmo”. Theycallmemazmo was a homage to that and a really cheesy early 80’s movie called “they call me bruce” that I loved as a child.

  15. Di Meyer says:

    Mine came about due the business name for our Bed and Breakfast:- Amble at Hahndorf. As a close reference to existing twitter name for our business, I went for Amble2 – which is me trying to suggest that I should slow down a bit, not much chance of that though…

  16. Peter Kelley says:

    Mine came about from a nickname I had in high school that stuck and morphed into my online identity. Nothing terribly original, it’s my last name spelled backwards. The au gets added when plain old yellek isn’t available.

  17. MrsJensMum says:

    My name came from my daughters first boyfriend. He felt cheeky calling me by my first name and too formal calling me Mrs Smith so MrsJensMum it became. We still see him around and he will always hold a special place in my heart.

  18. A bloke named Kevin from Queensland chose mine.

  19. Great post Michelle. Valid points, the lot of ’em. Also gave a me a good few much needed lols after a long week. When I meet tweeps with “unusual” usernames at functions, I tend to continue referring to them using said username – the weirder the better. I then go on to introduce other to them during the event using their freaky username. I like to do this until the point where it becomes awkward, then suggest they might think about changing their username.

    It’s #SocSyd tonight and there’s a fair few new attendees, so we’ll be on the lookout for the fun ‘handles’ and awkward “who are you again” moments.

    Cheerios 🙂


    1. Prakky says:

      Thanks, McAwesomeBalls, glad you enjoyed the post. Looking forward to recollections of tonight’s #SocSyd.

  20. Siddharth says:

    I used @havelegswillrun cause it symbolized what I wanted to tweet about.

  21. Karen Bryan says:

    I didn’t really think about it when I first signed up, I used my LiveJournal nick as it was created with a particular fandom in mind and expresses where I feel at home within that fandom. However, I’m now a freelance web dev so I realised that it wasn’t really professional – and I didn’t necessarily want to change the way I tweeted, so I signed up with my given name instead and added web so it showed my professional side more, hence becoming @karenbryanweb. How you choose your name really is determined by how you plan to use twitter. Interesting article, and probably something I needed to think about from the start!

  22. That is so funny I am Cathy Jayne Pearce !!

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