What’s in a name?

Kevin Zawacki’s recent article on Internet identity has fascinated me and has also forced me to take a closer look at my own online behavior. As the Internet has grown more personal and less mysterious, more people have taken to using their own name as their personal online handle. And yet I cling to Digital Femme as if a comfortable pair of shoes.

Why? Truthfully my last name is dull and fairly common. I’ve finally grown to enjoy my first name, Cheryl Lynn, no longer ditching the country compound in an attempt to appear sophisticated. Friends call me Cher though—because humans are lazy. And I answer to that name because Cher makes me think of Clueless and the ‘70s—and both of those things delight me. (Though I must admit I get a thrill from hearing strangers get my real name right and use it properly. Bonus points for Southern accents too!)

As for the Digital Femme handle, I’m not completely certain why I chose it. I knew I wanted people to be aware that I was a woman in geek circles. (Yet given the rate at which women within geek circles are harassed by men, that was probably an unwise decision.) I also wanted a handle that was my own since previously I had gone by the names of my favorite comic book characters—brands owned by large conglomerates.

And so DigitalFemme.com, hastily chosen because DigitalGirl.com was not available, was born. And I love it.

But I’m not the only Digital Femme! I share the online handle with the phenomenal Carmen Villadar. I’ve almost grown to view her as a digital sister of sorts, to the point where I will take the handle digital_femme on a social networking site, leaving digitalfemme for her if it is available. I also joke that we should fight crime together under the Digital Femme banner given the geek world’s propensity for interracial female crime-fighting duos.

It is amusing to me how digital_femme has supplanted my real name to the point where I grow irritated when the handle has been taken by another. Recently I opened an Origin account only to find that the digital_femme handle had been assumed. I was furious. How dare someone use my name?

But it is not my name, is it? But why would someone want to use a handle so strongly linked to two existing women? For example, the Digital_Femme account on Disqus belongs to neither me nor Carmen and is fairly recent. I’m intrigued!

Are you a Digital Femme? Hit me up.