While hanging out with friends, someone asked the group what our first online screen name was. We all shared and laughed as each one was more obnoxious than the previous.
Luckily, we’ve all grown up and realized that those names, while fun and cool when we were in Junior High, are a bad reflection of our professional aspirations. So most of us now use either our real name**, or something very close.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about** a Time Magazine article that showed how the adolescent brain develops from childhood into early adulthood. In short, the research in the article showed that the part of the brain that is responsible for making smart decisions based on long term thinking, is the last part of the brain to develop around the age of 25.
In the past, this wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but in today’s world in which every action we take is digitally recorded forever, it sets up all sorts of issues.
Let’s go back to online screen names…
It could probably be assumed that a rite of passage into teenager-dom, is to set up your first Facebook account. In 21st century life, the internet, for better or worse, plays a big part in the development from boys to men. From your Facebook account to your first visit to a site like, the internet is a strange, mesmerizing place for a young adult. During the sign-up process it asks you what you want your special, unique, never-to-be-changed URL to be. And with a fully charged teenage brain, and more and more of the common names already taken, teenagers will resort to online screen names they think are funny and cool among their peer group…
Now, fast-forward to when the teenager goes to college and finds out that college admissions officers use Facebook to screen applicants. The grown up teenager now wants to change her online screen name, but unlike when I grew up and it was easy to do, sites like Facebook don’t let you change your URL. So you will forever be known as the silly, stupid, goofy, socially not acceptable screen name your teenage brain created back in the day. Oy vey.