As I lazily scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, the online lives of my friends and acquaintances play themselves out before my eyes. While a part of me wonders why everything seems to relate to cats, it’s undeniable that Facebook has become a tool for communicating ourselves.
Recently, however, my occasional scrolling has been stopped by a small change in the atmosphere. Online acquaintances have adopted pseudonyms and monikers alien to my eyes. It started with a small trickle: a few friends here, a few friends there, but it’s quickly grown into a steady stream of name-changers. As the college application season really begins to take off, I find myself surprised by the many students who’ve decided to change their names. While most wave this off as a trivial choice, it’s a wrong choice; changing our names on Facebook is a subconscious admission of guilt. We all make mistakes online, and changing our names doesn’t fix any of the problems we’re trying to solve.
After much pondering, I’ve decided that I don’t understand the rationale behind changing names on Facebook. We’ve been taught since day one to lead an honest life, and to bear the consequences of our actions. We’ve been taught to stick up for what we believe in, and to put our thoughts into our words. If we don’t agree with what we previously posted, the most reasonable response would be to delete the post. Changing our names is an evasion of the problem; if we think that something would be potentially harmful to an admissions officer, why would other people not be harmed by the content?
Hiding behind a pseudonym only temporarily relieves us of this problem of identity, and going forward into the future in our real lives, we won’t have an opportunity to just change our names to evade our problems.
We should learn from our mistakes and not get lured into a false sense of security by the idea that a different identity protects us from the fallout from our own actions. Admission into college is but a first step into a hectic rat race; we still have careers to pursue and opportunities to chase. If we’re worried about our online lives now, we should try to change that fact now, as opposed to just hiding behind a different screen name.
It only takes a rational mind and a nostalgic trip through the past to wipe what we no longer agree with. It’s incredibly easy to delete publicly shared data, but we need to learn from our mistakes. While manymay argue it’s truly a harmless (and trivial) subtlety, changing our names online doesn’t bode well for what our rational minds are thinking.