DO NICKNAMES CREATE THE LANDSCAPE OF A CHAT ROOM? EXPLORING NICKNAME TRENDS IN KUWAITI CHAT ROOMS (Published)
It is necessary for social media platforms to keep up with technological advancement to enable its users to engage in highly interactive settings. This is especially true of chat room settings where users nowadays use computer video cameras to transform virtual mixed-gender chat exchanges into more real and believable experiences. The increase in camera-based chat exchanges means that making up online identities specifically in the form of selecting ‘fantasy’ chat room screen names or nicknames (a common expression of identity among users in chat room communities) may no longer be possible. The present study compares changing trends linked to chat room user nicknames within two different time frames: 2009 and 2015, and in two different settings: Kuwaiti chat rooms and an international chat room. Utilizing quantitative as well as qualitative sociolinguistic methods, this comparative study demonstrates the effect of technological evolution on online chat room interaction. This study also aims to reveal how and why elements of power and status are assigned to chat room nicknames by their users.