“What’s a NarWhallflower?” and Self-Definition on Social Media
I get a lot of varying reactions to my username/pseudonym. I’ve been asked countless times something along the lines of “What’s a narwhallflower?” or “Narwhal and flower… cute… but why?” or even “What is a narrwall? Is it a type of flower…?” So I am here to finally tell you exactly what it means!
… But first, some backstory. When little me first created her art account on Instagram, she tried to think of an artsy and cool username. Thus came my first username: @doodlin_in_the_rain. (Yes, that is neither artsy nor cool, but little me was very proud of herself at the time.) Later, once I got to college and wanted to create a more professional vibe, I decided to change the name. Inspired by artists like @Cyarine and @Rhi.markable, I wanted to create a name that was a play on words. Plus, I am a sucker for dad jokes, puns, alliterations, and any clever word play, so if I was going to change my name, it needed to be something I would enjoy for a long time.
For my friends who have been longer on this earth than I, you may not understand why changing a username is such a big deal. On social media, your username IS your name. It is how complete strangers come to know you. It is the persona you choose to present to the world. In the same manner that Samuel Langhorne Clemens became known by his pen name of Mark Twain, social media users and influencers become known by their usernames. Another way to see it is as a brand. A social media is the version, or brand, of yourself that you are making public. Popular brand names, such as Starbucks and Walmart, will each elicit individualized images of what content their stores contain, what their ideals are, and what people and places you associate with them. A single social user can create the same things with the content they publish, the ideas they express, and the people and places they publicly support.
Therefore, choosing a name had a lot of importance. If I was going to “rebrand”, it needed to be good. After many scrapped ideas, NarWhallflower was created. I capitalize it in that way because it is a combination of the words “narwhal” and “wallflower”. Narwhals are beautiful, dappled whales that live in frigid arctic waters. These endangered enigmas are unique not only for the harsh environment that they inhabit, but also for the protruding tooth adorning the front of their heads, which is commonly mistaken for a tusk or a horn. It is theorized that they use this tooth to break the ice above, enabling them to come up for air. When I first learned of their existence, I was enamored. An animal that loved the cold, was unique but still lovable, and that saw the world from a different perspective than most other whales? That’s like me! At this time, I was also still struggling with a lot of depression and the concept of a wallflower resonated with me. I often found myself on the outside of situations and social gatherings, which gave me a wonderful perspective of the entirety of those situations. It is still how I approach challenges in my life today: I look for a wholistic view, comparing perspectives and world views until a resolution can be reached that best benefits all parties involved. So I combined these concepts and parts of myself into one metaphor: the NarWhallflower.
What does your username mean? Do you have an online “brand”? I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, questions, and/or concerns in the comments below!
(Also, please recycle and save the narwhals).