High school seniors changing Facebook names
At the beginning of the school year, Syosset High School senior Casey Konsky suddenly changed her Facebook profile name to "CheeseCasey Dilla."
At Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills, senior Emily Goodman switched her name to "Oh Em Gee," a play on the beginning of her first name, her last initial and the popular texting abbreviation OMG.
If it's senior year in high school, it's time for "senior names" on Facebook.
NEW RITE OF PASSAGE
The seeds of the trend were sown several years ago, when guidance counselors started warning students that college admissions officers might look at their social networking sites when deciding whether to admit them. It was initially an attempt by certain seniors worried about questionable past posts and photos -- for instance, showing themselves misbehaving at a party -- to temporarily hide their Facebook identities.
But it's mushroomed into a senior year tradition for all students, the vast majority squeaky-clean and with nothing to hide, seniors at Long Island high schools say. There's now an unspoken competition to come up with the most creative "senior name" that incorporates the user's real name. It's become a rite of passage, along with senior prom and graduation, seniors say.
'WEIRD IF YOU DON'T'
"I know people in sophomore year who are already brainstorming names," says Nicole Stricker, a 17-year-old senior at Half Hollow Hills High School East. She decided on the moniker "Nostricks Attached" while watching the romantic comedy "No Strings Attached," starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. "Everyone tries to come up with the most clever thing they can think of."
The new names show a sense of pride about being a senior, students say. "Everyone wants to show off that we made it to senior year," Stricker says. "Now it's weird if you don't do it. Everyone wants to be in on it."
Several students say they looked up to older students who temporarily changed their names and looked forward to their turn to do it. "When I was a junior, I saw the grade above me do it," says Goodman, 17. "I just think it's something fun for everyone to do. I don't actually think it does anything to protect from colleges. I think the colleges are smart enough to find you if that's what they really want to do."
Stefan Hyman, director of enrollment communications for Stony Brook University, agrees with that, but adds that, for Stony Brook at least, applicants don't have to worry too much about their Facebook accounts. With 30,000 applicants, admissions counselors don't have time to view them, he says. "We don't specifically look for a student's Facebook profile except for two reasons," Hyman says.
One is if a student asks the admissions office to view it, for instance, because he's applying to the music program and wants to show off his band performance. The other is if someone alerts the school to a student who might be dangerous because of a posted threat.
Still, it's not such a bad thing to temporarily have some extra privacy during the application process, says Frank Muzio, director of guidance at Wantagh High School. "It's not outside the realm of possibility," he says. "I would certainly err on the side of caution."
As for Facebook, spokeswoman Alison Schumer says the social media site doesn't comment on trends.
The fake names can be a nuisance. "If you're not sure of someone's name and you're looking for them, it can be hard to find them," says Lewis, 18, of Plainview-Old Bethpage. That makes it harder for kids to friend new people, and vice versa.
Some seniors have already changed their names back -- traditionally everyone does when their college acceptances start coming in, which happens from January to April, they say.
Alex Ashkinos is one. The 17-year-old senior at Half Hollow Hills High School West had temporarily been "Alex the Great." "I changed it back in early January," he says. "I kind of just wanted my own name back."