The Pseudonym Conundrum And All The King’s Men » VSB

Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

The Pseudonym Conundrum And All The King’s Men

I’m going to go ahead and assume that most people know that my real name isn’t Panama Dontavious Jackson. On the off chance that this is news…

Palindrome swag.

Palindrome swag.


Anyway, while my name is my name, my “name” also isn’t my name. Dig? This has been the case in my life for quite some time. In high school, I had a nickname. I was Phife, though we spelled it Phyffe. I was short and one of

my boys yelled PHIFE across the room one day in English class while attempting to wake me up and a nickname was born. Apparently he’d already mulled the idea of giving me that nickname and time + opportunity


Well, I was just “Sexy” in college and then after a wayward walk through some bushes, I became Panama Jackson. Point is, I’ve had nicknames for a while. In DC, where I work, sleep, eat, and entertain I’ve been “Panama” for at least 8 years. Point is, my name is a working, functional outside of the Internets nickname. I trade my name for value at this point. F*ck with me you know I got it. Dig?

What this means it that more often than not, seeing as I have a working, monetized pseudonym, I introduce myself as “Panama”. Many people introduce me as “Panama” and most folks either don’t know or don’t remember my real name. This presents very few issues…until it does.

See there is a populace who either thinks I’m a douche or an idiot when I introduce myself as such. See, for me its just easier since 9/10 I’m at an event because of things I’ve done related to the name Panama. But folks are always like, “is that your real name?” And its just rude to lie to people, so I just say “no, but I write under this name and that’s why I’m here today so, thanks for these dry crackers and cheese.”

But it always leads directly to, “so what’s your real name?”


Now…sometimes I answer and sometimes I say “you won’t remember, its not important” but people seem to be really interested in knowing real names. I dont know if this is because I’m not a rapper or because people really hate talking to pseudonyms. They’d rather call you by your real name unless your a celebrity. I mean, how many folks know Jamie Foxx’s real name is Eric Bishop? But nobody is calling him Eric. Hell, half the entertainers you come across are using some variant of their name, if they’re using a variant at all.

Oh, and by populace, I mean women and white people. Women ALWAYS want to know my real name. In fact, they are the most persistent. And as soon as I say my real name, they then refuse to refer to me by Panama. Which is fine, except, chances are we met because of the whole “Panama” thing. In fact, folks go OUT of their way to call me my real name upon learning it. I can’t figure out why this is for the life of me. I suppose its because I’m not famous and I’m not 13 so the idea that nicknames are childish, even ones that have become a job.

Interestingly, guys don’t seem to care at all. I’ve only had a few men ask me if Panama was my real name and that was ONLY once they got to know me down the line. Maybe we’re all so used to calling ninjas named Dwayne Carter “Lil Wayne” and people named Clifford Harris “T.I” that nicknames don’t mean much to us. Or perhaps its just a bit…um…special…to be that enthusiastically interested in another man’s anything.

So maybe, for women its the intimacy involved. This idea that if I know your name, I’ve got a leg up on other people, even if I never see or speak to you again. It’s the knowing…and since women do tend to be more interested in details that makes sense. But…I live and work in a Twitter and blog world where I don’t know half the folks outside of their handles. If you tell me your name is LickMeBigDaddy, I may call you LMBD, but your real name is kind of not that important to me unless we intend to take it a step further…and only because I can’t tell my momma that I’m dating a woman named LickMeBigDaddy.

So the point of all this is this: am I douche for introducing myself to people as Panama even if I know they’re gonna want to know the real name and it’s gonna become a thing? Do you have a problem speaking to a person using “not their real name?” Do you have this issue? Are you a nicknamer? Do people always want to know your real name?

Tell your story. Do you care to know a person’s real name or not (assuming it aint in a professional setting like at a law firm and you’re trying to get me out of a sexual harassment charge from the time I humped a pole near a playground. Which totally never happened.)

How do you feel about pseudonyms?



Filed Under:
Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at

  • “They named Muhammad Ali–Cassius Clay. You don’t call him Cassius Clay. It’s a dis. You don’t call El-Hajj Malik Shabazz–Detroit Red. You don’t call him Malcolm Little. It’s Malcolm X. You show respect.”—Big Black African

    I have no problem with nicknames, pseudonyms, name changes, whatever. In some cases, people do it to stem some of the harassment they and their families would get because of the positions they take. In other cases, a nickname — any nickname — can be an upgrade. Ginuwine, for example.

    • Or Future, who spent his school days sounding like an anti depressent

    • Yeah, I shortened my name to ‘D’ because people kept mispronouncing it. I was sure not to put the article “The” in front of it, though.

      • I’ve struggled with names before. Your name? I don’t know. If the name is dtafakari, I would be making either the “d” or the “t” silent. You definitely gonna lose one of those letters. If the first or first couple of letters are initials, that makes things easier. I would probably pronounce your name like (dah)/ (tah)-fah-car-ee) said fluidly of course. Would that get me the smile or the stink face? My smile to stink face ratio is around 7:3 when it comes to names. In some cases, I’ll take the “L” for clearly butchering a (nick)name. But there are times when strangename should take the blame.

        “I’m sorry, rrrrrrrrraymundo. I just can’t roll my r’s like that. I can try to roll the r’s and sound like a car that won’t start or I can just call you Ray. Which do you prefer?”
        Then I’ve had last names that have so few vowels and so many apostrophes that you have to simulate the sound of drowning to correctly pronounce them. :o)

        • LOL. You get a million As for effort. Your phonetic spelling of Tafakari was correct :)

          My handle is my first initial and my middle name, which is Swahili. Word to my Afrocentric parents. Most people don’t get to see my middle name IRL because I’d rather not launch that convo. I initial it.

          Online, it’s easier to use my middle name b/c I don’t have to hear people try to pronounce it, it affords me some privacy…and my handle is never taken when I sign up for new stuff.

          • ForeverCC

            In my experience “foreign” names are pretty much pronounced like they’re spelled…it’s the American names that throw me off everytime!

  • Michelle

    I understand why women would like to know P’s actual name.
    I have a relative who managed to get knocked up by a dude and when her parents asked for the boy’s name, she said “Pac-Man, he hangs around one-two fifth!”

    For me, I grew up with the belief that only friends and family could call a person by their nickname. Strangers and co-workers were allowed to use the “gubment” name.

    • Todd

      Agreed. I make sure to get first and last names of anyone I smash along with any other identifying info, like places of work, family, alma maters, etc. Heaven forbid something goes down, I don’t want to be caught up in a situation where I’m looking BigBootyToni who burned me. LOL

      • Nothing worse than having a pregnancy scare DMed to you because you changed numbers and blocked them on Facebook, and they never see ur crib

        • Agatha Guilluame


        • holy crap lol

    • “Pac-Man, he hangs around one-two fifth!”

      That name reminds me of this:

      Bruh Man..fif floor, LMAO!!!

    • WIP

      “…when her parents asked for the boy’s name, she said ‘Pac-Man, he hangs around one-two fifth!'”

      That’s a tough one. I thought I saw something like that on one of those teen parent shows.

    • Shay-d-Lady

      its the opposite for me. my close friends and family call my full name. nick name was only used for school and now work..

    • BreezyX2

      No one calls me by my name. I have had a nickname for as long as I could remember. In fact when anyone calls me by my full name I instantly get the feeling that I am in trouble….like a child who is about to get their behind whooped. Even in relationships, when my dude calls my name I get ready to do battle.

    • Brother Mouzone

      Women ALWAYS want to know my real name. In fact, they are the most persistent. And as soon as I say my real name, they then refuse to refer to me by Panama. Which is fine, except, chances are we met because of the whole “Panama” thing. In fact, folks go OUT of their way to call me my real name upon learning it. I can’t figure out why this is for the life of me.
      This is soooooo true! I never really thought about it before, but as soon as I tell a woman my real name, and that only my mother calls me that, she goes OUT OF HER WAY to call me THAT instead of what 99.9% of other people call me…lol

      • Val

        Hiya, BroMo!


        • Brother Mouzone

          Hey babe!

  • questions that need answers. If we’re going by favorite characters, I’ma start going by Rorschach lol

  • unrelated: conundrum and quagmire are my favorite words for problematic situations lol

  • Rachmo

    I don’t even remember how I got the nickname Rachmo. I just know since sixth grade I’m often called Rachmo, Mo, Motown, Mo Diggity Mo Doubt, and so on and so forth. Also:

    Det. James ‘Jimmy’ McNulty: So your boy’s name was what?
    Snot Boogie’s Friend: Snot.
    Det. James ‘Jimmy’ McNulty: You called the guy “Snot”?
    Snot Boogie’s Friend: Snot Boogie, yeah.
    Det. James ‘Jimmy’ McNulty: Snot Boogie? He like the name?
    Snot Boogie’s Friend: What?
    Det. James ‘Jimmy’ McNulty: Snot Boogie?
    [the kid does not answer]
    Det. James ‘Jimmy’ McNulty: This kid, whose mama went to the trouble to christen him Omar Isaiah Betts… You know, he forgets his jacket, his nose starts running and some asshole, instead of giving him a Kleenex, he calls him “Snot”. So he’s Snot forever. Doesn’t seem fair.
    Snot Boogie’s Friend: Life just be that way, I guess

    • When you walk through the garden….

      • nameless

        watch your back

    • That was one of many brilliant scenes from that show.

      • Rachmo

        I’m rewatching it all the way through with a Wire virgin. So I will be quoting it for the next couple months.

        • Lowers latest issue of “Uncensored” like Jay to give you a look of recognition then goes back to the nudie mag.

        • Val

          I haven’t watched it yet this year so I’ll probably watch The Wire and The Corner again this fall.

          • Rachmo

            I haven’t watched The Corner in a looong time. I do remember being blown away.

            • Val

              I felt the same about it. That show really broke it sown.

  • Maris

    1. I really did think Panama was your name, and you were just THAT awesome that you care naught if your name was all over the interwebs even though your partner calls himself “Champ”.

    2. Panama isn’t a far-fetched name. I feel cheated. It’s like when people give their dogs ACTUAL names like Phil. “Hey, meet Phil” (you think your relationship has gone to the next level cause you’re meeting family…then Fido comes out)

    3. Women want to know your name so they can brag they “know” you personally when they mention you’ve met. We’re competitive. “Oh, James? Yeah, we’ve met. [I’m special. Be jealous.]”

    4. I remember things visually, not verbally-so even though I’ve met a good few VSB’rs IRL (and may or may not have offered up my bosom for consolation purposes on a random Friday happy hour) I will likely only refer to you by the name I see onscreen. So, meh

    • Kema

      Fido probably is family. lol

    • BreezyX2

      Maris: Your number 3 was what I was about to post. Thank you!

    • Todd

      I see what you did with #4. LOL

    • panamajackson

      Many people have had that same reaction upon finding out that Panama Jackson isn’t my real name. There’s a certain disappointment. It almost hurts my feelings…I be like…”BUT IMMA CHANGE IT!!”

      • Sahel

        Like Maria Sharapova….

        • Kopa


    • Yoles

      i hate when pets are given “people” names… i just don’t like it.. not at all… there you are naming your long haired rat tea cup yorkie my future daughter’s name… nah come again…

      • 321mena123

        I did that. It worked. :-)

      • Royale W. Cheese

        My bf and I want to give our future bulldog a people name. I’m partial to “Patrick Stewart.”

    • Royale W. Cheese

      Sweet cleave. No homo, and no hate on my LGBT peeps.

  • Another time I met this girl Patience I thought it was a pretty name…I was so disappointed to find out her mama really named her Amy

  • Aly

    Y’all are pretty much the only ones who know me as Aly. Everyone else calls me by my full name (Alyson)

    I think when people use their real identities online it forces them to behave and act like a decent human being. Although I have seen people write some pretty hateful stuff on social media using their real names.

    • b sweet

      I agree 100%

    • Yeah….since I post under the real name, I keep it pretty strait-laced. But my journal? Nothing nice.

      • Aly

        I can only think of one thing I’ve posted here that I would be embarrassed for my mom or coworkers to read.

        • Rachmo

          I that’s why I have my pic up. It reminds me that these people can find me in the streets so be nice.

          • 321mena123

            See, there are only a few people that I would be cool with meeting in real life but i feel like online you are building a different type of relationship. I don’t know if it would transfer well into real life.

            • i’ve met some twitter friends in real life and had it be the most awkward catfishery experience ever…some ppl who are funny and charismatic behind a keyboard have the personality of paperclips in person :-(

              • 321mena123

                The way i am online is the way I am in real life but i want to get to know people in person fresh. *shrugs*

                • I think I’m pretty much the same in real life…cept I’m not tryna talk to every Joe Schmo, and I think I come off a lot more social online lol…90% of my cyber-to-real-life encounters have been awesome tho…

                  • Val

                    That’s me, waaay more social online. I’m a tiny bit snobbish offline.

                    • im just a bit more introverted with ppl im meeting for the first time….once i know you forreal THEN i flourish lol

              • Sahel

                You still smashed right

                • One particular girl was sooooooo awkward, I slept on top of the covers to avoid her tryna touch me lol…..her whole AURA was awkward, I left soon as I could lol #Catfished

              • Oshun

                personality of paperclips – *I weepeth*!!

            • Rachmo

              I think the only difference between how I am here and how I am in real life is that I’m weirder in real life. I tend to inappropriately moonwalk and do strange things like that. Still chatty and dramatic in person.

              • my favorite kind of person….my college roomie would bust into random broadway numbers and i LOVED her for it!!!

                • Rachmo

                  Me and one of my good friends made up a musical a few months ago. The showstopper number is called “All I Wanted was a CVS”

                  • hahaha!!! I am the undisputed queen of Bohemian Rhapsody at karaoke, sooooo im kind of a big deal lol

                    • Val

                      Lol @ “sooooo im kind of a big deal lol”

    • panamajackson

      I’ve often debated going by my real name. But this far into the game I’ve branded myself as Panama Jackson. Plus, it’s still a job thing. Even though Im pretty out there, unless you know the name, you don’ tknow how to get to the good sh*t. But I’ve definitely considered switching things up before….at this point, its moot.

      • Oshun

        dont’ switch because people are interested in knowing your real names, switch because YOU want to! At the end of the day what matters is if you are still one and the same person.

  • $60245819

    PJ: Most women just want to know your real name so they can ONE UP on another woman and be the girl who REALLY knows you. She wants to be the girl in the group at Reminsce sitting at the bar and the ladies go ” Hey there goes Panama from VSB” and she responds with “Oh you mean Dwayne, psssssssst that ninja ain’t shyt” and looks away like she is not impressed….lol.

  • Bedrock Obama

    I have several nicknames and based on the name you know me as, I instantly know if you know me from home or HU. I have long time friends that don’t know my real name until we connect on LinkedIn. And in case you are wondering, I’m not the POTUS either.

    • You’re not? Dang. I was going to ask for a reprieve on my student loans….

      • the things I’d be willing to do to get rid of these loans, i should be ashamed, but im not lmao

        • Girl…xrated and nationally televised! No shamein my game!Lol

          • i was at King of Diamonds in MIami, and this girl got nekked for a bottle of ciroc… if she was willing to sell her dignity for vodka, can you IMAGINE what folks would do to get rid of thousands and thousands of dollars in debt??? lmao

            • I’m thinking we need to team up to make this happen. We’ll be laughing all the way to the bank! LOL

              • HELLO!!! Fannie Mae can kiss the fattest part of my azz lol

        • Guest

          Girl…X-rated and nationally televised! No shame in my game! LOL

    • panamajackson

      I wasn’t sure until just then…

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