Monday, August 23, 2010

When you call yourself, what do you say?

The windows have been dripping with rain all day. After months of very little rain, and most of that at night, I feel as if I'm a school kid having a snow day. I spent more time than usual just browsing the blogs this morning and came across a post that I've been thinking about all day.

The blogger said she had noticed that many young women use the screen name Soandso'sMom. She found that many of those blogs were largely about parenting or about the kids. Not surprising. On the Swap-bot site which has several thousand members, mostly women, from all over the world, ages ranging from late teens to well into the 70s and maybe even 80s, everyone has a screen name and everyone has posted a profile revealing as much or as little as they choose. Quite a few identify themselves in their screen name as someone's mom -- sometimes I find that someone is a cat or dog. I certainly haven't done a study correlating interests to names but I'm sure the blogger I referred to above is correct about the family orientation of the women who choose to use "Mom" as part of their screen name.

Some people refer to their craft in their name, some to where they live, many have combined parts of first and last names or used nicknames -- nothing surprising there. For instance my other blog is called "Calenderpages" which is my last name [spelled with the er instead of ar that is "correct"] because that seemed to me a logical name for a blog or any sort of diary-ish writing. The name of this blog simply makes a statement about what I hope it says about life as a septuagenarian. Many blogs are named in this spirit.

One observation that disturbs me is that many screen names on the swap site include words like "angel, princess, fairy, nymph" and so on. These words suggest childishness. Older people easily call a child whose name they don't know by these "sweet" words. What does it mean when an adult chooses such a word for her identification? It feels inappropriate to me. I also notice some names which are personal put-downs. I'm reluctant to be specific but really can't get past the one that is "mousepoo". My instinct says the woman feels this is funny, but it seems to be funny at her own expense so that we cannot take her seriously.

What do older people call themselves on such sites? Some do choose "gramma" or "nana" which I think has the same implication as "mom". Some use the word "lady" which I like although I feel I may be politically incorrect in feeling that way. It is a word that suggests dignity beyond "woman". Lady seems ageless. Nowadays "gentleman" seems to be used only for an older man except when we say it of a small boy to suggest he has unusually good manners for one his age.

Society [in America and many other countries] is shifting, and our language is shifting with it, of course. I am not comfortable with "crone" which many older women like. I am unhesitating about asking for a "senior" ticket at the movie theatre. But I cringe at "golden ager". I don't really know what to call myself when I call myself something, except for the name on my passport which is the name my parents gave me and, in fact, I have never liked it very much. Although it may sound appropriate, I will not accept "grumpy old lady."

3 comments:

Marie aka Grams said...

I think the problem of self-identity has gone on since the creation, and I think we're all trying to figure out who we are and why we're here. Perhaps that is the purpose of life (?). I am so much more than any label, but we have to be known by something. You ask great questions for pondering. One answer for me is, out of all my roles, Grandmother is my favorite, hence my pride. So, I use the grandma title a lot. It just makes me happy.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- When I first moved to Kentucky three years ago I was taken by surprise when I was addressed as "miss barbara." It was simply a matter of courtesy rather than a designation of married status. Why some people choose certain names probably falls into the nickname category rather than courtesy labels. You certainly made me think about names more than I usually do -- good post. -- barbara

Vicki Lane said...

Excellent post on a subject I've pondered! I prefer just to be known as Vicki.