Sun, Lulu, Scarlett or Terminator… Deciphering the nicknames used on the web can help to better understand the personality of those behind.

The Net, kingdom of the incognito? Not sure ! Essential passport for our virtual trips, our pseudonym devaoes us as much as it hides us. When typing the few letters or numbers that will qualify us, we often prefer to hang on to our first name, our city, our gender, in short, to proven and reassuring social codes. “I chose Siana because it’s my first name backwards”, “Dom12 for Dominique and Aveyron” …

A word to say

Naming yourself would turn out to be more intimidating than expected: it is often easier to take inspiration from the first names of those close to you or the way others refer to us … “Maiaju, made with the first two letters of the first names of my little ones -children “,” Ptithome, because that’s the nickname my wife gives me “… Choosing a name just for yourself, freed from the weight of genealogy or projections of relatives, is nevertheless an opportunity to recreate, start from scratch. “Thanks to my nickname Lulu, I free myself from the overly wise first name my parents gave me,” says Sophie, 25. Lulu suits me much better. “” It recalls the young women who changed their first names in the 1970s to escape an identity in which they felt that their mother had locked them, comments the psychoanalyst Serge Tisseron, author in particular of Virtual, my love (Albin Michel, 2008). By finding a new name, we try to “come together” in a definition that suits us. ”

The nickname, the key to a new life, a new identity that looks more like us? In any case, it is an opportunity to question yourself, trying to define yourself in a single word. “Boomerang, I chose him after a heartbreak. You throw it, but it always comes back… ”,“ Tekila because I’m completely smitten ”,“ A year ago, it was Solomum. Today, it’s Sun, because I have a new companion keen on astronomy ”… A way of laughing at his difficulties, of taking a step back from his life, he helps to measure the progress made. To be positive too, by encouraging each other via the screen: “I chose Scarlett, as in Gone with the wind, because something deep inside me is screaming at me that, despite all the hardships, I will get up, “” Bigsmile, that’s kind of what I’m missing right now, smile and liveliness. It’s like a slogan, a sort of Coué method… ”

A word to seduce

New sets that we never tire of retouching, changing according to the sites or our moods, our nicknames are also programmed to seduce. “This is even more true on dating sites,” explains Sabrina Philippe, psychologist for the Parship site. Some choose, for example, titles of little-known films to see which ones will manage to decipher the enigma. It’s a way of putting up a barrier, of sorting out, of testing the other. ”

Exotic, mythological… mysterious identities are popular: “Mafoutou as a“ magician ”in Vietnamese”, “Calliope as the Muse of eloquence in Greek mythology”… A sort of password reminiscent of childhood games, initiatory test imposed on others to reach oneself, the nickname gives keys… but not too much. It allows you to have a little narcissistic pleasure by feeling precious, an object of curiosity. “In virtual worlds, there is nothing worse than being alone, concludes Serge Tisseron. Both intimate and public, it must catch the eye, make people want ?! He offers us the possibility of trapping the other without being trapped by him, of attaching him to us without giving him too much hold on us. ”

A word to reinvent yourself

By choosing to reveal ourselves a little, a lot… or not at all, we think we remain masters of the game. However, in this game of hide and seek with oneself, the unconscious has its say. “We put things in it that we believe we have mastered, and then we slip others without our knowledge,” summarizes Serge Tisseron. I received a teenager, Gaspard, who had chosen to be called MacGregor on the Net. Hearing it, it was a fluke, and then he realized that “mac” in Gaelic meant “son of”, and that his father had always complained about not having known his father. By this choice, he tried, without being aware of it, to give him back his parentage. “The psychoanalyst also evokes the case of a young girl who had chosen the first name of Camille to surf the Web:” It was in fact the middle name of an enigmatic grandfather who had played a very important role In his family. ”

With the nickname, we hold out a mirror … the reflection of which sometimes surprises us. “I realized that I only chose sexy names, porn actress style! »Admits Séverine, a little confused: would she betray her real personality? Not necessarily. Simply, we do not go on the Internet to experience the same thing as in real life, but to free ourselves from prohibitions, from the superego. Hidden behind a female first name, some men give free rein to their fantasies. Metamorphosed into Terminator, Zorro or Zizou, others explore hitherto unsuspected facets of themselves: indestructible, vigilante, adulated …

“At the beginning, many men, in particular, create a character for themselves and project on the Web a sort of ideal self,” notes Sabrina Philippe. And then, over time, they evolve, come back to their true personality. Like artists who invent a stage or pen name to create, to have access to another part of themselves, our virtual identities allow us to let go. To move on to the dark, buried side of ourselves, at least for a while. Because, on the Internet, no irremediable commitment: it only takes one click to dismiss a nickname who has fallen out of favor. Before setting out again, under a new name, towards other interior journeys.

Sources of inspiration

Personal life
23.6% of Internet users are inspired by their emotional or family life.
8.6%, affectionate nicknames given by those around them.
4.3%, of one of their character traits.

9% of Internet users are inspired by films or plays.
8%, from tales, TV series, video games or musical groups.
5%, from comics.
4.3%, from mythology.
1%, from religion …

Civil status
16% of Internet users are inspired by their real name or first name, more or less encrypted.
4.2%, by their ethnic origin or geographic location.


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