Having one or more Instant Messaging programs can be an important, enriching part of your online life. But, poor choices can make what seemed like a fun, convenient way to chat into an life-ending nightmare. Well, maybe not life-ending, but at least annoying and possibly embarrassing. Here is the first part of an ongoing guide designed to help you get the most out of Instant Messaging and to avoid several pitfalls.

Handle Choice

Many an person has wrecked their life with a bad handle. I have personally blocked people with crappy handles, because I did not want to see them in my buddy list. Of course, I am an elitist dandy, but it does illustrate my point. Bad handles make you less popular. Here are some do’s and don’ts:


  • Try to find a name that fits your personality. Something like, “fishlover” or “racefan” or “whorewithnoselfesteem” will make sure that your buddies are reminded of your passions when they are chatting with you.
  • Make sure that you either use first caps: “BadMrBunny” or no caps at all: “shutterbug.” Anyone who uses that messed up capitalization will be outed as a kid or an adult pretending to be a kid. Don’t accept friends with names like: “hUnGAndhOrnY.”
  • Make sure you can get a similar name across the various programs. Why try to remember a bunch of different names?


  • Use your real damned name. Why would you do that? Do you think you are the only person named that? Of course you aren’t. That’s why you sit there like a jackass typing: DickSchmidt (crap!) DickSchmidt1? (crap!) DickSchmidt93837383837373? Bingo! Don’t be stupid.
  • Use numbers for letters. It’s G4Y. P3RI0D
  • Make some gimmicky name that will become completely irrelevant in a few months. I’m looking at you, Kerry4Pres04.

Finally – and I cannot stress this enough – DO NOT think that the forms you are presented with require your true information. Just because it says, “name,” you do not have to put YOUR name. Many people have picked a great handle, and then found out later that everyone and their brother knows that the secret name, “twinkluvah” is actually Gordon Lathrope from Ottowa. Just lie. Don’t give Internet people any info about you. You would be surprised (and sickened) at how much people can find out with just a little info.

Our next installment will be: Managing Your Windows.

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