Where do internet nicknames come from? And why do I have three of them?
When Nanny Goats in Panties recently asked why my blog is named Sassmo’s Blog, my posts are signed by Donkephant, and my comments are signed Grizzly Kitteh, it left me contemplating my own online existence.
When I joined the I Can Has Cheezburger team in January of 2008, I met Happy Cat, Tofu Burger, and a handful of other similarly nicknamed coworkers. It seemed only fitting that I adopt a persona for work purposes, thus Grizzly Kitteh was born.
Soon after my arrival, Happy Cat requested I spearhead a new project, which turned out to be Pundit Kitchen. Given PK’s highly political nature and a need for a neutral figure to watch over it, I donned the nickname Donkephant as well.
Sassmo has been with me the longest though, originating on Christmas Day, 2002. It’s the moniker I use most often online and somewhat offline, including @Sassmo on Twitter. The name originated with this guy:
Me, circa early 2003, teaching a tour group of pre-schoolers about KTUH, the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa college radio station
Christmas Eve 2002 I spent the night partying until the wee hours with an apartment full of Brazilians in pajamas, followed by a rather messy session of downhill skateboarding before I finally made it to bed.
Three hours later (Christmas morning, 8am) – bruised, bloodied, and still intoxicated – I reported for my first day of training at KTUH, my college’s radio station.
Ari, the station manager and my trainer, helped select jazz records to play for the next 3 hours. I didn’t know much about jazz, so my first day consisted of almost entirely The Charlie Brown Christmas album and Louis Armstrong.
Before I went on air, Ari insisted that I have a cool DJ name. My roommates, Cassiano and Chas, frequently called me Sassafrasquatch. Combined with my lack of better ideas due to post-party grogginess, and my budding fondness for Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, a name was born.
As Sassmo, I was the host of three different radio shows on KTUH, over the span of 3 years – The Sassmo Jazz Show w/ Stoney Hawk, The Hootenanny Hoedown, and The Beast With Two Backs. I also worked a handful of director positions and as Interim General Manager.
Even though I’ve done some great things before and since, KTUH will be one of the most cherished times of my life, and thus the name Sassmo will stick with me forever.
So, even though Grizzly Kitteh and Donkephant have become part of my online persona, it’s been hard to separate myself from my job and the two worlds have spilled into each other.
Since part of job description actually entails interacting with our users and being a brand ambassador to the world of BlogHer and the people that encompass that corner of the internet, I’ve grappled with the question of whether or not I should be Sassmo or Grizzly Kitteh. Do I keep the professional name? Or do I be as genuine as possible and post as the guy who runs around half naked and calls it a fundraiser?