There is a serious epidemic going on that all of us are ignoring, and it's been bothering me for quite some time. I don't care about mercury in the water, toilet snakes, or swallowing my own tongue anymore. This is a far worse threat to society.
Now, I realize it's risky this early in the game to start quoting Radiohead songs, but I'm concerned that we are leaving future generations high and dry, depriving them of the ability to reserve their desired usernames, domain names and gamertags because we are snatching them up for ourselves without giving even a single, solitary crap.
You may be laughing this off. Taking it lightly. Calling me a "warmonger" or "Doomsday Donna." Well, my name isn't Donna, and here is where you're missing the point:
Suppose you really like pens. You love them. Inky, pointy, blue, black, ballpoint—you can't get enough. Let's suppose you love them so much that you want to be a professional online pen entrepreneur and create a business called "Pen Island." Naturally, you want to purchase the coinciding domain name, but too bad for you because I already reserved www.penisland.com one time when I was drinking, because I thought it would be hilarious.
That doesn't seem like a huge deal, does it? Wrong. Because guess what? Maybe in the future, Penis Land is going to be a very real, serious devastated area, like New Orleans after Katrina. And there won't be a penisland.com website to accept your donations because, surprise, I forgot the login password. Now I'm in a three-hour phone conversation with Go Daddy and, since I'm drinking again to numb myself of the pain I'm feeling from the Penis Land disaster, all I can think to yell at the customer service representative is that Danica Patrick has lost ten out of her last ten races.
This is a serious problem. This is our Y2K. (But like, for real this time.)
Personally, I blame AOL. When AOL Instant Messenger hit the scene in 1997, nicknamed "A.I.M." by some and "aim" by morons, reserving domain names became the Internet equivalent of the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. (That, of course, is an assumption. I didn't read the entire Wikipedia entry on this land run, but I did see Far And Away with Tom Cruise.) Suddenly, every young person in America started grabbing screennames in a maniacal frenzy:
LisaFoiles. Nope. Boring.
HummerLuvr86. Why am I getting all these weird Ims?
Xx_ColdplayRockZ_xX. BOOM. Perfect.
I took three screennames off the market in under twenty minutes, and that was just finding my screenname for that day. I'd do the same thing again the following day. In my lifetime, I've probably taken—nay, stolen—over 200 A.I.M. screennames, without ever taking into consideration that my daughter or my daughter's daughter might one day be a Hummer Lover (86).
My only hope is that my daughter will never need to reserve HummerLuvr86 on AOL Instant Messenger, because the sheer fact that it still has AOL in its name makes it an inferior messaging service that frankly should have died off years ago. But that's really here nor there.
This is especially detrimental to up and coming bands. In this fast, cutthroat cyber cesspool of smut and elitism we wade through every day, only bands with great names survive, but more specifically, only bands with great names AND corresponding websites and Twitter accounts survive. It's no longer about choosing a great band name. Nay, it's about choosing a band name that still has a domain name available. That's why your new metal band isn't called something awesome like Save The Empire, but rather something retarded like The Flying Cockwrenches.
Same goes for gamertags. We never had to reserve a unique nickname for our NESs, 64s, or Genesises… Genesi. Now, our entire online console gaming lifestyle depends on our gamertag. Do you really think those are all going to be scrapped anytime soon to make way for a new service? Unlikely. It's looking as though we'll be stuck with our Xbox and PSN names for a freakishly long time; let's hope we picked a good one and too bad for those who didn't. Have fun switching from "FapSausage" to "NinerzFan" once you get married and kissing that 50k gamerscore goodbye—that is, if you don't want to fork over the 800 Microsoft points to change it. ("Those greedy bastards won't get my money!")
I realize this is all pretty scary, but brace yourself for the worst part: Gmail.
Guys, I'm pretty sure Google isn't going under any time soon like we've all been expecting. In fact, they seem to have gotten pretty huge—huge to the point that I assume everyone's email address is "their full name" "at" "gmail.com," and if it isn't, I'm utterly dumbfounded as to what could possibly be wrong with them. Really? Your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com? THAT's the email address you feel comfortable reading off to your car insurance representative over the phone? Because, surprise, your rates just went up on your hot pink Camry.
If Gmail is now the standard and, hypothetically, Google continues to rule the world for all eternity, aren't we going to run out of usernames? Our poor future generations will never know the luxury of simply having their name as their email handle, without irritating numbers at the end or having to add in their middle name for an extra long email address that no one wants to type. And when no one wants to type your email address, no one is going to email you. Not even spammers. They don't have time for that many letters.
Our current generation is sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast of available usernames, and we're selfishly inhaling them until we're bloated, leaving nothing for our children except gelatinized cranberry sauce in the shape of a can. Because seriously, who eats that?
Honestly. I don't know how many more metaphors you need from me.
Look, I've been through a lot of crap in life and several near death experiences, two of which involved illegal fireworks, and I still say there is nothing more infuriating than coming up with the greatest username/Twitter handle/gamertag/domain name of all time only to see that it's already taken and the owner isn't even using it.
This happened to me for the first time seven years ago, and that damned URL is still a blank page filled with fifty animated "under construction" GIFs. Sure, I could've gone with .org or .biz, but come on, no one is taking those seriously.
That is what's in store for our children. That is what we're leaving for them. In two hundred years, some way hotter, cooler, and more famous Lisa Foiles is really going to want lisafoiles.com, but that bitch isn't going to get it because the login information will be stored deep within my dead brain. She'll even be unable to use futuristic technology to tap into my brain to retrieve this information because I assume I'll have made my living relatives sign some sort of privacy document preventing that shit.
We are pirates, all of us—we steal as many usernames across the net as we can and say "tough marbles" to anyone else who wants them or more rightly deserves them. Will you be the one to step up and stop reserving all the good usernames? Or, after reading this article, will you embark on a tireless mission to scoop up even more of them as a giant middle finger to generations to come? This is the paradox I leave you with, friends.
And speaking of great band names, if any of you have upcoming weddings, funerals, or bar mitzvahs, please consider booking my 90's alternative rock band, The Ally McBeal Surprise. You'll find us at the corresponding website URL.
Kotaku Presents' debut season features Lisa Foiles, who is best known as the former star of Nickelodeon's award-winning comedy show, All That. She currently works as an actress/web host in Hollywood and is continuing to dabble in video game voiceovers. For more info, visit Lisa's official website She's also on Twitter.