In the process of coming up with screen names for websites we join, there probably isn’t too much thought given. You might mash together a descriptive word or two about yourself with a number for originality and call it good. You expect that it may be used as a nickname if the website has a forum or other interactive component, but you probably never imagined being referred to as “zebraluver15” to your face, right?
I made a few unsuccessful attempts at usernames when signing up for Instagram before reaching “whitegrlinacrowd” and I won’t even get into how much it still kills to have that dropped vowel. Yet I persevere. Looking back, my screen names are basically a time capsule of the music I was listening to at the time. You could’ve tracked my budding music taste from website to website as the years went on. After growing out of “blondie_12” and “PizzaGirl,” I moved on to hiding behind lyrics and song/album titles online. Following is a compilation of those freshest in my mind:
⌊ feversxmirrors ⌉ → A true classic. I had recently participated in a mix CD swap with a friend in high school and put both this album and “Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground” on heavy rotation while playin’ some 8 Ball with my pals (Editor’s note: Yahoo! Pool with strangers).
⌊ meadowlark ⌉ → Fleet Foxes. We all had a phase with ’em.
⌊ finicula ⌉ → This is sort of a deep cut, guys. JK. I straight up just took a word from The Decemberists – “Song for Myla Goldberg.” I remember seeing them at First Avenue during college and Colin saying he owed this song to the crowd from their last show in town. It went over my head as I was still understanding that bands were allowed to play songs not included on the albums they were touring for. Also at this time I hadn’t yet heard anything off Her Majesty. “Play the Picaresque hits!” said a likely confused and misguided Andrea to an unsympathetic crowd.
⌊ thequeenofcarrotflowers ⌉ → This was as obscure as I could get in 2004 as a 17-year-old girl in northwestern Wisconsin. It was the name of my final MySpace incarnation and I miss it so very much. Extra cred points: I also used this on deviantart.
Why did I do this? Laziness. But I probably also thought it was sort of a calling card to other people who might listen to the same music I do. A subtle wink to let them know that, “Yeah, I know about that, too” and it would form an instant connection between us. My version of “You’ve Got Mail” minus the bookstores plus jelly bracelets and band T-shirts. This literally never happened but, let me tell ya, that didn’t stop me.
This leads us to the last screen name I came up with that I use across just about every platform in varying versions of spelling: whitegrlinacrowd. It’s a line from “Pink Rabbits” by The National:
You didn’t see me I was falling apart
I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park
You didn’t see me I was falling apart
I was a television version of a person with a broken heart
I’d been playing Trouble Will Find Me a lot at the time but this song in particular hadn’t stuck out to me in my listen-throughs. I think what went through my head when coming across these lyrics was: “Huh, OK, it has ‘girl’ in it so that’s descriptive yet vague enough for me!” For something so mindless, the alias has kinda assumed part of my identity. It’s what I wrote on name tags for my first handful of Instagram meet-ups. Out of context, it is a strange way to describe yourself. In context, it’s still very much a strange way to describe yourself. But I’ve come to embrace it and only immensely blushed for a few moments recently when I walked into a local taproom and heard “HEY WHITE GIRL!” from a group of friends. I mean, it’s true: whenever I’m out and about, I’m a white girl in a crowd. Mostly at shows, sometimes restaurants, very rarely at the gym.
So there you go. The history of my username that nobody was really looking or asking for, but now exists here. I would love to be enlightened on what your former screen names were or what’s behind the one you use now!