What’s in a Name?

30 Jan

Alright, we know the profile setup process is fraught with a number of stressful decisions. But before you decide whether to set the playful photo of you with a cute animal or that headshot from 5 years ago as your profile picture, and before you begin the daunting process of describing yourself to the online world armed with nothing but naked words, you’ve got to pick a name. So let’s take a step back. That’s right, a name. While this will excite some among us, I feel like many will see it as yet another cumbersome step in an already ridiculous process. But you’ll need to suck it up and christen yourself like the rest of us.

So what shall we call ourselves? Whenever I cruise through girls’ profiles, I’m struck by a few very obvious patterns that I will categorize into a few simple baskets:

Geographical Affiliation. Ladies, if you have no inclination to be creative or express anything unique whatsoever about yourself, choose this route. “ParkSlopeGrrl, VillageGal, LadyLES, or UESandy” are all acceptable choices. If you want to take it up a notch and add a simple pun, you’ve reached Level 2: the Geo-Pun handle. Try “FortGreener, WilliamsburgerWithCheese, ChelseaLately, or if you’re more inclined to be racy, AssToria.” Guys, you can take it from here.

Those with less neighborhood pride/interest in attracting people within a 5 block radius who also happen to be Jewish may be fond of the Schmaltzy Pun. With a very large number of Jewish daters in New York, you’ll come across these folks even outside the vaunted halls of jDate. Here the possibilities for irritating nicknames really explode within a large subset of Jewish daters. If, like me, you’re a relatively indifferent Jew, these will make you want to wretch and subsequently block people who choose to hit Enter after typing in “DreidelDave, Lisa_Latke, SchvitzingSchwartz, MeshugarDaddy,” or, god forbid, something more direct, like “Jewlicious, Jewcy, Jewbilation, JewnBug, or NYJew” (if you’re a clever NYU student). There should be a special circle of online dating hell reserved for these nicknames/profiles once retired.

More eggregious than a Schmaltzy Punster and Geo-Affiliate combined is the Elitist Flag. This is a not-so-subtle signifier that not only do you lack a healthy amount of shame for attending an Ivy or Ivy-caliber institution; you actually demand that the world knows it. It’s also an academic mating call to others of the same stripes. You’ll find this group well represented at the lower-Ivy level (think Penn, Brown, Cornell). Thus you might see a “BigRedBarb” or a “UPenny,” or, if you’re really lucky, a “JewPenn.” It bears mentioning that schools with good sports also inspire guys and gals to identify with their alma maters (e.g., “GatorsGal” or “FoghornLonghorn”) but I put these squarely into the category of good old sports affiliations.

Once you’ve successfully avoided the urge to do a Geo-Pun or to raise your Elitist Flag to full mast, you can choose a decent, unimpeachable nickname. I myself haven’t been entirely immune to the lure of the punny handle. This has led to such fiascos as my recent MustLoveBlogs decision, which was quickly undone after some timely intervention from good friends. If you’re not sure, find a good friend and ask. Better yet, crowdsource it with a few people. Names may not make or break your online dating portfolio, but they can make a dent that will be hard to fix.

Think about it…then think again.

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