So I got an email today, and I’ll leave the sender anonymous for privacy’s sake, but the contents of the email were:
I’ve great respect on your github projects.
But your name is somewhat very controversial.
Could you consider the usernames?
For the record: Thank you for praising my github projects, dear reader! That’s very kind of you.
Now, I’ve actually had very few people complain about my username. However, I’ve had lots of people ask this question instead:
Where did your username come from bro? I bet it means something profound!
As it turns out, “Jesus” and “Joshua” share a common linguistic origin of the Hebrew “Yeshua”, and “Abdullah” translates roughly to “servant of God”. It’d almost be cool if I had these in mind when “designing” my username, but the truth is that I didn’t even know these until years afterwards.
In the late nineties and early 2000s, I was in middle school and early high school, and it was a time where all of us kids were establishing early identities on the internet. You know, like:
We were beginning to collect email addresses and internet usernames, and none of us had much taste. Perhaps more importantly, none of us had an eye for the future, when we are in our mid-20s and no longer want to be awesome snowmachine badasses or hot princess babes. Or, God forbid, dangerous dude…butt-men. Gross.
firstname.lastname@example.org actually was my first active email address. But, the first username of mine that I’d actually remember and reuse? That happened to be jesusabdullah.
I want you to imagine, for a minute, a young, naive 15 year old that just learned about world history and was starting to think that culture was kind of a neat thing Also imagine that this 15 year old had a sense of humor, and liked mashing unlikely things together. He’d just learned about the origins of Islam in World History, and was taking Spanish I around the same time.
I think maybe you can see where this is going.
If not, here’s how it went down: Imagine a young man, with a father that immigrated from the Middle East, and a mother that had immigrated from Mexico. Suppose his last name is Abdullah, and his mother gave him a traditional Spanish name.
That’s right, Jesus Abdullah.
(As an aside, the original pronunciation I had in mind was “Hay-seuss Abdullah”. It’s not what people first think of though, and I quickly lost interest in enforcing peoples’ interpretations.)
I’ve been using the nick jesusabdullah for nearly a decade by now. That’s significant. That makes a dent in google searches, and in peoples’ minds.
I first used jesusabdullah as a username, I believe, when I accidentally typed my password (then “jesusabdullah”) into a username field in some long-forgotten web service signup.
I started using as an identity when I used to draw comics in high school (be gentle). My host had a pretty active forum at the time of comics artists and enthusiasts, and it became my internet home for at least a few years. Then:
Over the years, what started out as a bad joke-turned-password-turned-username because a decent online identity/brand. I mean, I’m no internet celebrity, but I do think that there’s a strong enough association now between my nick and what I’ve done on the internet thus far that I’m not really too keen on changing identities.
I’m sorry if you’re offended. No, I won’t change my username, but I ask you not to read too much into it.
Also, if there’s a lesson to learn here, it’s this:
PROTIP: When you’re 14 and choosing an online handle, think about whether you would want to be called “jesus” in a professional setting or not.