Poll: Are Negative Usernames Helpful or Self-Defeating?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  887 comments   :  43,267 Views

The idea for this blog came from a member, and when I saw it I knew it was something I wanted to talk about. It's something I wonder about all the time as I read blog comments on The SparkPeople Blog, answer questions on SparkPeople and interact with the Community. Here was her suggestion:

"So often, when I see some of the usernames members have chosen for themselves, I wonder if they realize that they are reinforcing a negative self-image. Maybe if they read that a positive screen name would help reinforce better self-image, it would be helpful to them."

We talk a lot on SparkPeople about the power of positive thinking. Some people will put a picture of themselves at their goal weight in a prominent place. Others will use rewards to celebrate as they reach weight loss milestones. The idea is that if you are optimistic about your goals and surround yourself with positive thoughts and people, you're much more likely to get to where you're trying to go. The SparkPeople Community is another great example of this. People who are negative and constantly complaining don't usually last long on our site- we're too upbeat for them.

This brings me to the topic of usernames. I think a username can say a lot about someone. Of course there are some people who pick the first thing that pops into their head or something they can easily remember. But others put a great deal of thought into their name and perhaps, how it could impact their progress. That's why I'm always amazed when I see negative and self-deprecating usernames. Some examples include names like FATGIRL, UGLYME and IMSOFAT. (Yes, I made sure none of these members were still on the site before I chose their names.) Are names like that motivational? Would they make you want to work hard to reach your goals?

What about names like NVR2HEALTHY, FORMYGIRLS, FIT4LIFE or NOWIWILL? Don't those names make you feel much better just by reading them? They do for me. They make me believe that these people are going to reach their goals- they are determined and committed. Even if they are struggling, you can tell they are serious about getting healthy, just from their username.

When someone with a username like FATGIRL asks a question on the Message Boards, I always feel a little awkward about how to respond. Do I say "Hi Fatgirl!" when I address their question? Usually I'll just leave their name off of my response, because even if it is their name, I feel bad using it!

What do you think? Am I reading too much into this? Could you see a good reason that someone would pick a negative username? If you have a "negative" username (or did in the past), can you tell us why?

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  • DETOX55
    I am not American and find this discussion interesting...if you're American, you are probably unaware how other cultures find your obsession with positive thinking at best inspiring, but at times very off-putting.

    Where I am from, we tend to be direct and honest with others - we don't see the need to be overly positive if the situation does not warrant it.

    Personally, I think usernames reflect how a person feels and sees themselves...I've joined this site several times now, each time with a different username, and each time, the name reflects my current state of mind and why I'm here...

    If I was 120kgs and was drastically unfit and unhealthy (which thankfully I'm not!), I would not see the point of choosing a user name HOTFITANDHAPPY...it may be my goal, sure, but is so far away from where I am today.

    Hope that makes sense...:-) - 4/22/2013   11:45:14 PM
  • 836
    I agree. I chose a neutral one with my 1st name & the year I was born. I like the unique way I spell my name so that's why I used it.
    - 4/21/2013   11:40:26 PM
  • 835
    I so totally agree. It is hard for me to type a negative name when trying to comment to someone. Once I said that to someone and never heard from them again which is sad. I personally love this web site and have gotten lots of helpful and encouraging information here! Thanks. - 4/21/2013   5:46:51 PM
    It is up to the person who chose the name. For me it speaks the truth. I am dealing with it and I know that some people will say that my name hurts me, but, in truth my name reflects who I am and what I have been through and am going through right now. Because of my weight I have never had a relationship and I was told by three doctors that I will never be able to have a child. So, my name tells who I am and the fact that I will never ever have anyone who cares about me or loves me. It is a fact that will never change even if I manage to lose 100 or even 150 lbs. Facts are facts. - 4/21/2013   5:36:42 PM
  • 833
    I could not help but notice one who seemed to take offense' and disagreed ..... Of course one is free to choose any username they wish .......... But I do agree that the name chosen does depict ones self image ......... Every time your name is spoken TO you ...... you hear that name! ..... So if it is Fat....something .... you keep hearing FAT ......... (and funny how when I am on Sparks & talking to friends my 'real' name from birth is rarely mentioned ........... This is my identity here. I am comfortable and like the name. - 4/21/2013   8:11:48 AM
  • 832
    I totally agree with you. I hate negative user names. I feel like people are disrespecting themselves. - 4/20/2013   10:32:47 PM
  • 831
    Much Success in YOUr Weight Loss Endeavors!
    Hugs - 4/20/2013   3:45:27 PM
    Oh, I agree with you. Negative user names are a sign of a negative image and I feel for those people, because I used to have a really, really negative image of myself which took me years to overcome. I thought of this the other day when I was helping someone else work on a collage to encourage healthy eating and weight loss goals. She looked at a photos of some slim, attractive women and said, "I wish I was pretty like that." I said, "You are!" She didn't believe me, but I hope she will cling to those images on that collage and realize she can reach her goals and be as beautiful as she wants to be. She is such a pretty girl, but she can't see past her own weight. Ah, yes, I remember how that feels! - 4/20/2013   10:39:04 AM
  • 829
    I agree with your thoughts. A therapist friend of mine also suggests you consider a message in the passwords you use. Many of us type a password many time throughout the day. Positive thinking -- Happy2BMe or Smile4You

    Every little bit helps! - 4/20/2013   6:53:22 AM
  • 828
    I don't think that a name is anything that can un motivate you or motivate you. To each their own is what I say. - 4/19/2013   8:26:26 PM
  • 827
    Desertdreamers, I agree with you about the recycled content. Although I hadn't read this particular blog post before, I see a ton of recycled content throughout SP. It's always disappointing to read something that looks "new," only to realize you read it some time ago. - 4/19/2013   1:52:58 PM
    I agree with EIREANA (don't know if I spelled it correctly). You don't know the reason someone chooses a particular name so it may not have negative connotations for them. My username on a different site, at a glance, is kinda sketchy. But it was part of a private joke between myself and a deceased friend and I relate it to positive memories of her. - 4/19/2013   12:55:05 PM
  • 825
    I always thought the same thing! Why would I want to call myself something that I really don't want to be anymore? - 4/19/2013   12:42:35 PM
  • 824
    I was drawn to a member with a user name like "skankybitch"....she had some bad, bad issues...I tried ti help ,befriended her, asked other SP friends to pray for her, and really tried to build her up...nothing seemed to help, then she either unfriended me or quit SP.. Anyway, she needed more help than I could or SP could give (her picture showed a not so fat and pretty, but very drunk girl)...I`m still sad over it.....but I guess the name is what drew me to her.... - 4/19/2013   12:02:15 PM
    I feel what you call yourself is what you will become that's why I call myself Pearliebaby because pearls and babies are precious things, and i feel my life and health are precious things, which I should cherish and take care of, because if I don't see myself that way, it is hard for others to see me that way. I feel bad for people who lack self esteem, life has probably been cruel to them but there are being even crueler to themselves. The bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made and if God has made me how can I be anything but precious. I said to all self haters hold your heads up because you are precious to the Creator and to everyone around you. Be blessed.
    - 4/19/2013   9:30:21 AM
  • 822
    I enjoyed this article the first time I read it, years ago. Since it had a new publishing date, I really hoped to get credit for a daily blog. Where are the new blogs? - 4/19/2013   6:36:24 AM
  • 821
    Hmmm...I used what my mama gave me. I like my name which means wisdom. My first name that is...I will address users according to their personalities, not their usernames. To each their own especially if they are being sarcastic anyway. - 4/18/2013   9:54:35 PM
  • 820
    I Believe You Say And Think Who You DESIRE To Be And NOT What You SEE. A Name That Empowers Your Journey Is The Best User Name In My Book. As You Think In Your Heart So Are You. This Is Part Of Our Change Of Thinking About Who We Are. It's Also Loving Ourselves And Not Using Negative Words In Reference To Being Overweight In Our User Names. Respect For Ourselves Is Just As Important As Others Respecting Us. This Is How I Think About It. Thanks! - 4/18/2013   7:46:56 PM
  • 819
    I have thought the same thing , this is a great wake up call . These usernames only promote a Negative self image that you are trying to change and rise above

    .It is a self put down.... - 4/18/2013   5:20:12 PM
  • 818
    My self talk is bad enoough i would never reinforce it by publicly putting myself down. Even my passwords are positive and no one sees or knows them. - 4/18/2013   2:17:44 PM
  • 817
    If you don't believe in yourself, nobody will. Putting yourself down isn't motivation to make yourself better. Telling yourself you can do it is. Instead of insulting what you are now, motivate yourself by buying a pair of jeans a size smaller and make it a goal to get in them. I just had a baby in February and I've been very hard on myself, but all it did was hurt my self-esteem. It didn't do anything to motivate me. I bought an $89 pair of capris in my pre-pregnancy size that I am absolutely determined to fit into, and lo and behold, I'm losing weight now and feel great about it! You must believe in yourself before anyone else does! - 4/18/2013   1:55:26 PM
  • 816
    I think this might be reading too much into it. No one knows the reasons for choosing a certain username but the person themselves. It could be the way they get motivated, it could be a negative self image, it could be a random thing they thought of, or simply a "just because" name. I try not to judge people by their username, as it's entirely possible someone with a normal or even positive name could be having the same issues we are trying to pin on others based on nothing but a username. - 4/18/2013   1:22:08 PM
  • 815
    I was inspired to change my username after reading this article the first time quite a while ago. I prefer this user name. - 4/18/2013   12:02:18 PM
  • 814
    I appreciate your point that this is the name other Sparklers will be using to address you. I might think I have the right to call myself a pejorative, but it might feel very different to have other Sparklers saying, "Hey, UGLY!" - 4/18/2013   11:45:11 AM
  • 813
    One thought on all this ... in your travels, there will be more than enough people in life to put you down. Absolutely NO need to put yourSELF down. Hold your chin up high! - 4/18/2013   11:33:42 AM
  • 812
    I do like that I can change me name when the time is right... say when I am "comfortably portioned".

    This is a great discussion and although I am outnumbered, I love the spirit that has shown through with the comments. - 4/18/2013   11:19:17 AM
  • 811
    It may be reality at the moment, everyone chooses their username for a reason. Fortunately there seems to be an ability to change your username, as I've seen several of my friends here do, to reflect the reality that may change over time. - 4/18/2013   10:48:56 AM
  • 810
    Maybe there should be instructions how to change your user name and keep your points and friends. - 4/18/2013   10:04:09 AM
  • 809
    When I was a child my nicknames my family gave me were...Fatso and Moose. When I graduated from high school I was "mentally fat" and I weight around 100 pounds. What you call yourself or someone else really does have an impact. - 4/18/2013   10:04:00 AM
  • 808
    thank you Jennaaw. - 4/18/2013   9:45:35 AM
  • 807
    If you don't know me, then how can you judge me. There is too much emphasis on a name... Is this a form of bullying? - 4/18/2013   9:31:47 AM
  • 806
    I do not think we should pressure anyone about their usernames unless they are hurtful to others- vulgarity, slurs, you know what I mean. We carefully select our usernames to fit our needs. - 4/18/2013   9:30:42 AM
    Agree 100%. It goes back to the "Labeling" theory taught in many Sociology classes. People can live up, or live down, to expectations. Those with negative names should give some thought to changing it to one which is positive. - 4/18/2013   9:05:34 AM
  • 804
    I agree... the more positive feedback we can give ourselves the more likely we'll be successful. Thanks for sharing :) - 4/18/2013   8:57:21 AM
  • 803
    I agree with you 100%. I look at my username everytime and it helps me to Staystrick. - 4/18/2013   8:44:36 AM
  • 802
    Excellent - thanks. I have thought this also. Names... it is tough for me too. But now I am going to think up a new name - positive and fitting for me instead of just my regular name. Thanks! - 4/18/2013   8:41:10 AM
  • 801
    I would never choose a negative name for myself because that's not the part of me I want to focus on.I like to look at the good, the goal. And I also like to interact with other people. People take us at our own, stated, value and even if *you* change over time, what they've decided about you at first encounter can rarely be changed.

    That being said -

    SparkPeople is here for each of us to use in the way we can benefit the most, so I not only don't care what Other People call themselves, I can see why what looks negative to me can be a positive to someone else.

    I'm reminded, though, of a young man just out of prison who was applying for jobs on-line at the public computers in my library. He'd chosen ExFelon1030@abc.com as his email address. "They may as well know about me right from the start." he told me. "No no no! I told him. Nobody will ever give you that first glance if you call yourself that. If in doubt, just use your own name. that's who you really are. Worry about the definition later" - 4/18/2013   7:02:56 AM
  • 800
    RAWN13 - I think there's truth in what you are saying. There is a "I'm getting real here" quality about a negative name that might be motivating. Maybe we need a name changing ceremony for flipping to a more optimistic view along the way! - 4/18/2013   5:59:06 AM
  • 799
    You've noticed something important here, I think. We all come to this site at different times for different reasons and with different levels of self esteem. I picked tortoise (which I misspelled by accident!) because it represents...going slow to go fast. I knew I'd need patience. I guess it fits, because even in maintenance I still need patience!! LOL - 4/18/2013   5:56:59 AM
  • 798
    I usually wonder, when I see a negative user name, if they are just poking fun at themselves or if they have low self-esteem. Self-deprecating humor can sometimes be a mask for low self-esteem. I am with the blogger, it makes me feel a bit awkward, but also sympathetic. (says the girl with a not-so-creative-username)... oops, was that self-deprecating? LOL - 4/18/2013   5:37:02 AM
  • 797
    @Fatcat65 I don't think this was meant to be a 'pick on negative user name' article, just some people out there happen to be sickly sweet and it bubbles over maybe?
    No I'm not picking on the 'positive name users'. And user names shouldn't need to be policed either, everyone has the right to express themselves as they want, everyone is an individual. . .
    The use of so called 'negative' user names could be there motivation, just like the 'fat' photo. Otherwise you could actually go as far to say that too positive a user name could lead to failure if they inspire to be too thin too fast?
    My own sparkpage starts off with 'I'm fat, there we go I said it!', on the topic of negatives, is this going to set me up for failure? I don't think so, I think it's good to admit it because then you know what you have to aim for. - 4/18/2013   3:43:06 AM
  • 123456789100
    I think that people might start out with them because that's just where they are in their journey. I myself started out with the user name Earthdonna, referencing some old clay pottery round fertility goddesses that were less than flattering looking.. I thank Spark for making changing your username painless.. and changed to one reflecting the psyche and my middle name afterward, which is the name I have now.. I do think I have a lot more positive outlook now. - 4/18/2013   2:51:52 AM
  • 795
    I've seen people change their Spark name to reflect a new (improved) attitude or goal. When you first sign up, you may not have that confidence or outlook.

    I chose my name because I am a physician, my first name starts with B, and my initial goal was to complete a half marathon. Goal achieved! - 4/18/2013   2:21:57 AM
  • 794
    Thank you for this observation. The negative names really make me sad. It is a form of negative self talk and name calling that is hard to watch. But, I also am not one to judge others. I just try to keep my own side of the street positive and uplifted.
    You are so right about negative people not being able to sustain on Sparkpeople. - 4/17/2013   11:09:23 PM
  • 793
    I may have what some perceive as a negative username, but it's not. Husky refers to the dog that pulls sleds and runs long distances. It's all in the eyes of the user. - 4/17/2013   11:03:01 PM
  • 792
    "Do I say "Hi Fatgirl!" when I address their question?"

    That made me lawl. Personally, that's exactly how I would address them. That's the name they chose. I have to respect that. Perhaps they are the sort of person who gets inspiration by having something to fight against. That's how I am. I do much better if I have someone shouting in my face, a la Jillian Michaels, than if I have someone telling me how awesome I am. If I make a happy, fluffy, screen name...it's not going to serve as motivation to get my tush out of this chair. - 4/17/2013   10:52:16 PM
  • 791
    I agree that we should keep it positive. We are what we say!
    - 4/17/2013   10:30:23 PM
  • FITKAT62
    I disagree totally. People can call themselves whatever they want. It has nothing to do with their chance of success. I don't think it's your place to criticize Sparkpeople members. If you work for them you should be encouraging them to stick with the program, not ridiculing the people with negative sounding usernames. Shame on you!

    - 4/17/2013   10:29:29 PM
  • 789
    I agree, negative names is not a good thing. I also tend to stay away from extremely negative personal blogs as well. - 4/17/2013   10:18:08 PM
    definatly negative - 4/17/2013   9:18:08 PM

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