I began with Christian Rudder, OKCupid’s founder and the author of , a book that uses data from the dating site to draw conclusions about message language, message length, depressing discrepancies between male and female age preferences, and more.
They represented a dry humor than aligns with my own.
Admittedly, my personal history of username selection isn’t without blemishes.
On my fourth or fifth date arranged through OKCupid I met my current boyfriend, who happens to be the most communicative, fun, and kind person I’ve met, online or off.
I’ll spare you the gush-fest; suffice it to say we’re an awesome match.
For OKC, I chose my initials punctuated by underscores, and tended to prefer equally minimalistic, cryptic self-representations, as opposed to, say, song lyrics or anything with “Brooklyn” affixed to it.
I was curious about whether my tendency to critique usernames more harshly than photos was universal, and decided to speak with a linguist about whether or not the language of our online dating avatars says something about who we are.
And of course there is the birth year suffix -- cuteguy1975, for example.” Rudder is right. Unlike gender or income level, there are limitless options and combinations of traits.
But, another data-driven researcher I spoke with, Susan Herring, a professor of information science and linguistics at Indiana University, found the question intriguing.
They were, to me, the pseudonym equivalent of a cheesy pickup line.
Much more appealing were earnest self-depictions or vague, consciously nonsensical noun mish-mashes.
It does, however, illuminate broader trends about how our online language use has changed over time.