Regular readers may have noticed my liberal use of nicknames throughout the recent posts. I’m not talking about the parts where I use a letter to stand in for the rest of the name, or the feminist-inspired Nigel (now Ex-Nigel – EN). I mean the plateboy, coffeeguy, needyboy etc etc. This isn’t something I keep to the blog in the interests of protecting privacy, it’s actually how I (and now, all my friends) refer to these people. There are a few other nicknames such as ‘stupidboy’ and ‘lovogirl’ and some more I’ll refrain from repeating due to how identifiable the people are from them.
I mentioned this in passing to someone as a cruel thing we do to these people, and was laughed at because the nicknames aren’t all that cruel. But that’s not really the point, is it? When you give someone a nickname, you give them an identity; and this can be done in loving and not so loving ways. By calling somebody ‘stupidboy’ you are automatically reducing everything they say or do to their stupidity. Any argument I have with stupidboy, he’s automatically in the wrong in the retelling. I refer to him as ‘stupidboy’ and I’ve already set up the framework for you to agree with me and not him. Plateboy’s entire interaction with me over the month he was part of my life is reduced to the fact that he kept my plate hostage.
Obviously, when a nickname is given out of love or caring, it’s very different. I had a horrid nickname in high school that I used to hate. Except, after awhile, it grew on me simply because its usage was restricted to close friends. They came up with it, they called me it, it was theirs. And it was a sign of our friendship. I rarely talk to those women these days, but when I do (usually on facebook) and they call me ‘their’ (horrid nickname), I feel kinda warm inside. And yeah, that’s sappy and crap and I can see pt vomiting at this point, but it is what it is.
My online identity in most places is ‘sigh’ and it is who I am. When people from these places call me by real life name, I get confused. It’s twice as confusing when you throw in the ‘whyimbitter’ thing, but I’m sure I’ve called myself sigh on here before in an effort to meld the two.
Nothing demonstrated the power of nicknames to me quite so forcefully as the breakup. EN and I so rarely used each other’s actual names that it took a very long time to slip out of the habit of using pet names. We stayed friends afterwards and we were constantly catching ourselves out using these endearments on each other. And suddenly, he wasn’t my (insert cutesy name), he was (his name). It automatically created a sense of distance and separation that physically hurt. I guess that’s the point of a break up – to be distant and separate – but the painful reminder came from the names.
So, those are my random thoughts on nicknames. What do you all think? And are we really as heartless as I think we are for refusing to identify these people beyond their nicknames?