Nicknames are commonplace in our society. Ask Dawn and she’ll tell you I’m fairly adept at giving nicknames. The thing about them is they are usually given to people you know well. Unless you’re using a nickname to refer to someone without using their name to either protect their identity or to make fun of them. I once gave a kid I worked with the nickname B-Rock to prevent the rest of the kids from creating a more unfortunate one. Some names just beg for those nicknames used for teasing/bullying and I decided preemption was better than trying to put out fires.
One of my friends calls me Cuzin It because back in my super long hair days, I rocked a great impersonation of The Addams Family character. Dawn calls me Stump, a nickname from The North And The South. If you know the book or the mini-series, you’ll know Dawn’s nickname. Then there is Hunter. A nickname given to me by the guys I worked with at the YMCA back home. It involved a game we were playing at Leadership Camp and the fact that I almost took a group of them out after taking on a low-shoulder stance (thank you college football player buddies). That’s called a well-earned nickname. Doug and I have multiple nicknames for each other because they evolve like our friendship.
It’s a common misconception that because I go by Debi, my given name is Deborah/Debra/Debora. I’ve had to pull my license out more than once to prove that my parents really named me Debi. Shortening a name or adding –y/-ie/-i at the end is a practice of giving someone a nickname connoting familiarity between people much like the given names versus familiar names in Russia: Misha for Mikael, Natasha for Natalya, Sasha for Sergei, etc. In that vein, Deb would be a familiar name.
If you don’t know me, just met me, or barely speak to me, don’t call me Deb. Deb is for the friends who have earned the right to call me that by taking the time to get to know me and who reciprocate socially. A lot of times when making friends on Twitter, people gush friendliness in the blink of an eye and not even a minute later, someone thinks you’re their new bestie. Meanwhile you’re thinking: “I just met you. We have no basis for any type of nickname formation when I know NOTHING about you and vice versa.” Or if you’re more like me: “CENSOREDDELETEDREDACTED”
Social media is a great place to make friends. I have a tribe thanks to Twitter, but it takes more than one tweet to form a solid friendship. Great nicknames tell a story, have depth, and/or convey relationships. They shouldn’t be a shortening of names because you can’t be bothered to speak (or type) the whole name or think name mashing is the greatest thing to delivery pizza in thirty minutes or less.
My loved ones earned the right to call me Deb. Complete strangers and acquaintances…Houston, we have a problem.