Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A rose by any other name is still a rose

By Amanda Joinson

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Driver’s licenses, mailing addresses, voter registrations, bank accounts and credit cards are only the beginning of what would have to be adjusted if you decided to legally change your name. However, a name change is the only clear way to escape the details of one’s past  that have been recorded online, according to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

There is no denying that everyone has made mistakes, but a free pass to forget is not the way to go. Owning up to your past is the appropriate option.

Although almost everyone has their regrets, abandoning the name given to you by your parents seems unnecessary and frankly, not exactly a viable option, but Schmidt, looking into the future of Google, stated that young people should be entitled to change their name upon adulthood to escape the past that lingers on social networking sites.

Essentially, changing your name would clear you of all your unattractive pictures posted on Facebook and objectionable Tweets. 

Every person that has information about them online makes the decision to participate on social networking sites. When signing up for the service they are presented with the rules and regulations – of course few actually sit down and read them – but the site operators technically own the information posted to their service.

Changing your name because of information that you have willingly posted online seems contradictory. You post things online ultimately to be seen or heard. Denying claim to these words or pictures of your past would be abandoning who you are, which will only get you in trouble in the long term.

In all honesty, if you go through the steps to legally change your name you have to be hiding something so massive that it would eventually be recovered anyways. Not to mention, family and friends will know of this change. What if they point it out to someone else? One slip of the tongue and the past will be unveiled again, after all the effort of changing one’s name. Technology, as it stands now, is already amazing. Down the road, it could only get better, leaving you just as exposed as before.

Facial recognition software is already readily available. For example, Face.com is a service that can pick your facial features out of pictures posted on Facebook, for an easier way to tag photos. If name changes become the norm, facial recognition software will only become more popular among employers that really want to know who you are.

So face it: There is no way to run and hide from your past.

Instead of taking the drastic measure of changing your name, think about how your experiences may give you guidance for how to carry yourself in the future. The people that own up to the way they chose to live their life when they were young will ultimately prevail. These people are not lying about anything. The facts are out in the open for all to see. The transparency of the Internet can be used to amaze future employers rather than deter them. Being honest is a noble characteristic that employers should recognize.

Even our aging Baby Boomer elders acknowledge that they have their own regrets from when they were growing up, however there is no evidence floating around cyberspace waiting to be found through a search engine.

For the older generations, events took place and will only be able to be stored in the memories of those that were present, or at the very worst, events that were cause for reprimanding were documented, possibly, in the infamous and dreaded “permanent record.” Elders must think of what could have happened if they lived with the technology that exists today. They must look back and determine if they would be in the same position today if the events of their life had been remembered and posted for all to see. 

Peers must also come to terms with the actions of others. Not everyone chooses the most pristine lifestyle, but they must grow up and live among the rest of us working regular jobs and hoping to succeed.

Mind you, I am not stating that employers should lower their expectations and everyone should go crazy. I am saying, though, who hasn’t had a drink out of a red Solo cup?

Although the voices and images of young generations flood the Internet, changing your name, as suggested by Schmidt, is out of the question. People cannot hold full-grown adults responsible for what they did as a teenager. It is simply unreasonable to draw the conclusion that people have not grown-up throughout the years. Rather than being penalized for the learning experiences of your youth, people should embrace the development of careless teenagers into mature, productive adult members of society.

 Amanda Joinson is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

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