Continuing the nomenclature theme…how long will it be before the fuzzy distinction between usernames and our traditional parent-given monikers disappear? This article seems to suggest not long.
Derren Brown’s japes last month regarding predicting Lottery Numbers are not the point here (maybe another time), but the use of Twitter usernames (instead of their actual names which users normally supply) for vox pops is telling. Are given names on the wane? Will our birth certificates become a mess of alphanumerics that are mere mispelled ghosts of nouns, proper nouns, adjectives and adverbs? Children suffer enough punishment at the hands of their unthinking parents (as this site will attest). There are enough problems with names like Silas Rain Silas Jasper Jasper Rain (true!) without smearing them in numbers and symbols, or mutilating them with childlike phonetic aberrations.
Honestly, I wouldn’t want somebody called Xolani1990 (a real Twitter username) to be my lawyer/dentist/waiter, let alone name my children thusly. But with the current generation having their lives documented on Facebook and Twitter from the moment of their birth (firstly by their parents, and eventually by themselves), will they see a distinction between the real world and the “cyber” world? Will they even know what “cyber” means? It has been on the decline since the late 1990s: I’ll soon be teaching students who don’t even remember the dot.com bubble.
Sadly, I suspect that certain types of change cannot be stopped. Just as Gutenberg changed the landscape of language and colloquial discourse with his Press, so will the web. I just hope that future generations keep the prevalence of kaesyn (Jason with a k – a real name, I kid you not) down to a minimum.