The Name Game

May 10, 2015 - 10:02pm -- swingbug

Names are a big deal in the family to which I was born. Not your given name precisely, at least not the one you start out with. It's the name that becomes yours over time. Its the name that's chosen for you.

My given name is Shannon. Until I was living out of the house, no one called me Shannon except teachers and employers. I'm Bug. I've been Bug since I was cognizant enough to sort out syllables into discreet words. My friends picked it up from my parents and there it was. Bug. I have a handful of other nicknames too (Shannie, Shannie-Bug, Bugface, a few others I'm not going to tell you) and I like them. People don't believe me when I tell them this. The thing is, where I come from, a nickname means love. We all have nicknames. No one uses your first name for anything unless you're in trouble. Every pet I've ever had gets a legitimate name, and then shortly thereafter gets a chosen name. I did at some point realize that most people find this a touch strange so I stopped short of nicknaming new acquaintances. Out loud.

I know a lot of people who associate nicknames with teasing and don't dig them. I get that. Its not been my experience exactly. Most of the people who chose to make my childhood difficult were happy enough to do so with my formal first name or with classic standbys as "four-eyes" or "nerd" such that they could be readily ignored. Recently, though, a coworker ask me if she could call me "Shan" and I felt thoroughly honored.

As we interact more and more online, it seems like the concept of chosen names are more commonplace. The names we once picked for ourselves for convenient brevity, or for privacy out there in the wilds of internet, or because one more site required you to come up with a unique account name for little to no reason, have become recognizable parts of our identities.

Folks ask me about "swingbug" and from whence it came. Last century when I was about to graduate college and thus lose my first ever email address, university-assigned as it was, I signed up for a personal email account. (This was cutting edge, folks.) I had wanted "jitterbug"--I was swing dancing quite a lot at the time--and it was taken. Swingbug was available, and I didn't love it, but it worked well enough.

It became my internet handle here and there and grew on me. Now in addition to Bug, I'm swingbug too. It's become me over time.

Which is all to say that it irrationally pisses me off when I decide to get myself something like an Instagram account, and the Create Login page tells me that the username 'swingbug' is already taken. Dude. That's my name.

Ah well. I'm swingbugSnaps on Instagram, should that sort of thing interest anyone.

(grumble grumble...)

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Submitted by chezzapg on

Huh, I don't think I've ever called you by a nickname. I guess I don't like you enough. :-P