Lane: A social media pseudonym won’t save you

BY JOE LANE | OCTOBER 01, 2014 5:00 AM

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My name, according to Facebook, is “Joe Lane,” which is good because, well, that’s my name. In fact, that will always be my name and, as such, will always be the title of my Facebook page. This idea of matching your name in real life with your name on Facebook, however, is shifting away from the norm. I’ve officially lost track of how many of my Facebook friends have changed their names to some variation of their first, middle, or last names, if not to something entirely unrelated.

The timing of these name changes is by no means coincidental. The peculiar alterations (that leave me wondering who my friends are and if I accidentally sent a friend request to the wrong person) tend to coincide with two major activities in the life cycle of young people: college applications and job interviews.

Teenagers and 20-somethings, thinking that they’ve found a way to avoid having to act civilized on social media, have taken to changing their names across all of the platforms upon which they are active in order to hide the online activity that they deem unfit for the eyes of potential employers.

This is, without a doubt, one of the most disappointing trends I’ve seen come out of my generation and merely confirms the preconceived notions of older generations surrounding our connection to social media — notions many have fought so hard to eliminate. I cannot (and will not) understand why people my age put things on social media so vulgar or embarrassing that they feel the need to hide it from those in positions of authority.

Let’s face it, it’s not exactly a great way to start off a new job or a college career by hiding your true nature from those who put their time and money into your success.

What’s even more shocking, however, is that had these individuals not been applying for a job or a college, they would feel completely comfortable posting drunken videos, half-naked pictures, and grotesque content from around the Internet.

The most important takeaway from this phenomenon, however, is not that young kids today have the audacity to hide behind a fake name. It is that, despite being the most connected generation in history, we still fail to understand the consequences of our social-media interactions.

As social media have become more omnipresent, it’s obvious (or at least it should be) that what you do on the Internet can and will be held against you as you.

Not to mention that for employers reviewing the social-media presence of a millennial applicant, a deleted Facebook profile, or one hidden behind a pseudonym only serves to reinforce the belief that you have something to hide.

The modern employer or college-admission counselor is not ignorant to the importance of social media in today’s society and is undoubtedly very familiar with this “Mark Twain phenomenon,” if you will.

The truth of the matter is that posting your inappropriate and frowned-upon antics on the Internet is one of two ways to make a fool of yourself in front of an employer (and everyone else for that matter). The other? Kidding yourself into thinking that turning your last name into a variation of your middle name will save you from the foolish things you posted in the first place.

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