Medical School, Facebook, and the Future of “Real Names”

There has been some debate recently on the relative value of real names versus pseudonyms on the Internet.  See, e.g., Fred Wilson.

One observation. Take this for what its worth; I am not sure what if any conclusions to draw.

In talking to some younger relatives, all applying to or recently enrolled in medical school, I learned that the common practice today is for applicants to disguise their Facebook identities before applying through a variety of techniques (by using middle names, permutation of real names, nicknames, etc.) to ward off unwelcome visits by medical school admissions people.  I assume applicants to undergrad or other grad schools are doing the same.  Those putting on these disguises are the first generation of Facebook users — those who were most comfortable with putting their lives online — who have years of status updates, photos, and other things who now must navigate a world of non-Facebook generation gatekeepers. It will interesting to see how this perceived need to disguise oneself evolves over time: do users switch back to their identities after they get into the schools or does the caution carry over; will this even be necessary when the Facebook generation also are the gatekeepers, etc.

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