I recently was talking to an old friend about some of my ventures into the world of social networking and the internet, explaining the paths I have taken into such sites as YouTube, Twitter and Dailybooth. Her response was not what I expected, pointing out the great brand I had created with my username, asketchyfish. I was mostly shocked by the fact that someone was considering my usage of a common name across multiple sites and networks as a “brand”. However, this did get me thinking about what I have created with this username I that came up with over eight years ago, when AOL was still king.
The name asketchyfish it not completely random, well at least not to me. My nickname, given to me by my best friend at the time, was Fish. Don’t ask why, or when that was decided upon (I am pretty sure it was decided upon whilst sitting in a ditch on the side of the road), it just was. So of course at this time I was a high schooler, meeting new people all of the time, especially girls. It was only a matter of time before someone told their mum or dad they were going out with a guy named Fish, and that she did not know my real name. Which would of course lead to general concern about who this person was, why he was named Fish, and why their son or daughter did not know my real name. Long story short it was only a matter of time before someone decided that this was ‘sketchy’ and with that my nickname was born, a sketchy fish (with spaces removed for awesomeness).
Fast forward to the birth of the internet and the use of usernames to identify one another rather than using ones name. Unlucky (or lucky) for me, Andrew Murray is an extremely common name around the world, and usually before I even had a chance to discover a new service, any sort of username created in part from my actually name was usually taken (ie. andrew, murray, amurray, etc.) and I was not going to be the person with the numbers tacked onto the end (ie. andrew13, murray012345, etc.). So what better time to use my awesome nickname than to start creating all my internet accounts with the username asketchyfish.
It took till my sophomore year of college actually (and many thousands of accounts later) before I even created my first login that was centered around my real name (andjmur). This was when I started applying for internships and jobs that I thought it would be best not to have a “unique” (see Freakonomics) e-mail or IM account to include on the application or resume. However, on most social network sites I still kept my typical asketchyfish, because by this point it had become my identity on the web. It was something you could search google for, and instead of the tennis player or novelist or lord Andrew Murray being retrieved, you could find me. It was also during these latter years of college where I really began to entrench myself in the social network communities using this name as well. Cementing for now the name asketchyfish as my permanent identifier on the web.
This finally led to the true creation of what some would consider the brand of asketchyfish, where I now probably can claim every domain name and user login with asketchyfish in it. This is very much like Apple or Microsoft might do with one of their products. It was the realization of this that made me decide last night to bring the last of my social networks, YouTube, over to my “true” username. While some say obscurity is the best form of defense on the internet, I have decided with this final move to simply control every facet of my identity on the internet through this single, unique identifier. I believe in the end that it is much easier to control what you place online than it is to fight what ends up creeping online. And because of this, I have simply become Andrew Murray, head of all things asketchyfish.