I serve as an alumni interviewer for my alma mater from time to time and relish the opportunity to talk to high school students. Sometimes I get asked for advice on college, and I used to tell them, half jokingly, to be careful in submitting a picture for the Freshman Facebook. Why? People spent hours poring over the Facebook (the hard copy that everyone bought). Some people in my class submitted some unusual or memorable photos and, to this day, my classmates can imagine that picture and associate them with it. Now it was possible to swap out another photo for the Upperclass Facebook but everyone would then know of your vanity that you went to the trouble of submitting another photo. So what would seem like a trivial decision — submitting a picture for the Freshman Facebook — actually became a semi-momentous decision.
I was reminded of this when reading a new set of blogs published by Mediapost called the Digital Frontier in which they invite "Gen Xers" to blog about their digital lives. Some of the posts are quite interesting. The "Me.com" post in which David admits he’s an AOL user and talks about his screenname and how the people of his generation are bound by their cyber-identities. He recounts slaving over his screenname choice because it’s very hard to change once you’ve picked one.
So screenname is the new freshman facebook picture (which is now easy to change via your own Facebook.com profile). Fascinating.