Sometimes, I actually like that universities will assign user handles based on your name. It takes the guesswork and responsibility out of picking a suitable internet handle, one of the most important decisions of one’s adult life.
A most shameful decision I made when attending MIT was to pick a horrible handle: lwang987. So many number, so ugly, and impossible to pronounce in any decent way. I was almost thankful when it expired after graduation.
At Hopkins, emails are assigned based on first initial and last name, plus a number if the handle is already in use. My lucky first handle was lwang69, which after a coy explanation to the IT department over the phone, was silently and efficiently changed to lwang78. Still not pretty.
I was determined, then, upon my enrollment at UW, to acquire a fitting handle, one without numbers and which easily references my actual self. You see, UW lets their students pick their own names. I was once again in charge of my own destiny, but this time, determined not the F it up.
Thirty minutes into the process and I was well beyond exasperated. UW is a huge state school enrolling more than 10,000 students a year. That left no iteration of a popular name like Lucy Wang unturned. Any and every combination of my name and initials had already been registered, leaving me with the sad fate of the trailing number. I even tried all sorts of greek letters and words, but nothing befitting turned up.
I finally settled on lucylw over lucylu, and I suppose I’ll have at least a few years to decide whether I love it or would prefer to bury it in the internet graveyard next to all my other broken identities.