Lisa: His name doesn't matter. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
Bart: Not if you called them stench blossoms.
Several people on my friends list have changed their LJ user names recently. It's always disconcerting for me. Unless it's someone I know really well, it's hard to remember what the old name was when I see the new name and so I have this moment of "Who the hell are you?".
I realise that people sometimes change their usernames because of privacy concerns. But people change for other reasons too, usually because they seem to like the new name better.
When someone I know changes their username, my perception of them changes a little too, not because of the change itself, but because of the new name. One person seems smarter now, with her new username. (Not that she wasn't scary-smart to begin with!) Or rather, it's more like there's a new, smarter person in the same place. I don't know why it is -- it's not like either of the names were related to knowledge in any way.
I suspect this wouldn't happen with people whom I've met in person or people whom I knew prior to LJ. But there's something about the username that affects the way I see the person. On LJ, if I only know you here, in a way, you are your username. So if that changes, you change too.
And it's a visual change. I don't hear usernames on my flist, I see them. Along with icons, that's often the only visual reference I have for someone. (I also get weirded out when more than one person uses the same icon. Because I get to associate it with one person and so it's a shock when I see the "face" and it's not who I was expecting.)
I'm curious as to why people change their usernames (aside from privacy). I've always used Halrloprillalar in fandom. (And I always have to check to see if I've spelt it correctly!) Hal is the nickname portion of it -- call me that if you meet me or if you're emailing. prillalar is the username portion, not just on LJ, but anywhere I need a user ID. It's also my domain name.
My name is my brand, which I have worked long (long!) and hard to build up. If I changed my LJ username, even if I kept using Halrloprillalar as my pseud, I would lose some benefits of any reputation or recognition I've gained on LJ. And I think I would feel like a different person, even to myself, in the fannish context.
I'm curious -- if you have changed your LJ username for reasons other than privacy, why did you do it? Are you happy that you did?
How do your perceptions of someone change when they change their username?