Poll: Are Negative Usernames Helpful or Self-Defeating?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See more: motivation goal

Comments

PATRICIAAK 1/12/2021
:) Report
WILDKAT781 11/20/2020
My Spark user name is one I've used on 99% of the internet. My Appaloosa horse's name was Mr Wildkat. When I first tried to use his name online it was taken, so I added his birth year of 78, well that was taken to so I added a 1 after it because he was number 1! I have used it ever since, even used to have it as website! Miss my boy, I had him for 19 years He died in January 2004. Report
DIANEDOESSMILES 11/4/2020
See my user name? It clearly helps me. I did put this as a goal. When I first joined I was in a deep, dark depression. I wanted to smile easily again. Signing on reminded me all time "just smile" if you read my blogs you'll see I'm a very positive person now. My life is 1000 times better. Report
GETULLY 11/4/2020
Just use your own name and photo. It is so hard for me to connect people with their names when it is not their name or photo. Report
BLENDA2U 11/4/2020
I saw someone with the same name format on AOL 3.0 (name2u) and loved her courage and assertiveness. So whenever I need a user name it is my fallback due to that lady I can't remember her name anymore. Report
CECELW 11/4/2020
I've never thought about it. I am usually a positive person Report
MSMOSTIMPROVED 11/4/2020
I want to be positive in all I do but to each his own. Report
IAN2409 11/4/2020
Arrrgghh *friend Report
IAN2409 11/4/2020
You shouldn’t call yourself a name you wouldn’t call a froend Report
DEFARGE2 11/4/2020
I'd be inclined to think their self esteem was non existent . Report
SABLENESS 11/4/2020
A negative name is not her me. My Sparkname is from something I love that makes me feel good. I’ve also seen a Sparker refer to a grandchild by a very unattractive nickname. I hope she’s given it up. My sister suffered from such a nickname. Report
CECTARR 11/4/2020
Thanks Report
DANCINGGARDENER 11/4/2020
It is so 90s that everyone has a fake name on Sparkpeople. I wish people here just called me Maud like my real life do. Report
MARITIMER3 11/4/2020
I don't see how negative user names can ever be good. I feel sorry for people who describe themselves negatively. "you" are much more than the number on the scale. Report
NEPTUNE1939 11/4/2020
ty Report
AZMOMXTWO 11/4/2020
thank you Report
RCLYKE 11/4/2020
I am not sure I understand where you are coming from Report
MAREE1953 11/4/2020
Another great way to promote positive self talk is through passwords that you enter multiple times per day. I believe the skill of self-soothing during the rough times in life is one of the most important skills a person can have. Report
LIS193 11/4/2020
Good article Report
CORVETTECOWBOY 11/4/2020
Thank you Report
JANIEWWJD 11/4/2020
Very good article. I believe that positivity breeds positivity!!! Report
PATRICIAAK 11/3/2020
:) Report
REBELPRESENCE 10/10/2020
I've been that person before when my self-esteem was lower and I Iwush someone had cared enough to have this conversation with me. Now my username reflects the idea that there is a mirror that only sees my magnificence and that mirror is self-love and self-acceptance. I do believe the way we refer to ourselves is as much a factor as any other element of wellness Report
PRIMEOFMYLIFE 8/12/2020
Positive thinking! You got this right! Report
MARTIO1966 3/13/2020
Thanks for talking about this. I am a big believer in Positive Thinking and Positive self-talk. When I see people use negative usernames, it makes me so sad for them. I want to reach through the screen and give them a hug and tell them: "You are a beautiful person with a beautiful mind and body. Believe in yourself. We do!" Report
MIKAHALE 3/13/2020
No. Not in my humble opinion. Report
RO2BENT 3/13/2020
Depends on the mindset Report
CORVETTECOWBOY 3/13/2020
Thanks Report
RO2BENT
Everyone is different Report
I truly believe that it is individually based. The motivation behind an adopted moniker can in fact be different from one person to the next predominantly one could assume it is to gain some type of attention from others but the type of attention desired may vary. For instance one person might use a moniker to garner attention of people who will try to give sympathy, other's may use it as s shield...I said I was fat before you could..and then again someone could find humor in their own failings and use the moniker to reflect this. I think that if you are uncomfortable with someone's moniker, then don't acknowledge it, just acknowledge the person.This of course it written by someone who chose a moniker the means "smile" and likes the attention of people being happy when they read it lol. Report
I truly believe that it is individually based. The motivation behind an adopted moniker can in fact be different from one person to the next predominantly one could assume it is to gain some type of attention from others but the type of attention desired may vary. For instance one person might use a moniker to garner attention of people who will try to give sympathy, other's may use it as s shield...I said I was fat before you could..and then again someone could find humor in their own failings and use the moniker to reflect this. I think that if you are uncomfortable with someone's moniker, then don't acknowledge it, just acknowledge the person.This of course it written by someone who chose a moniker the means "smile" and likes the attention of people being happy when they read it lol. Report
I totally agree. The Bible says life and death are in the power of the tongue. The things we say (or write) about ourselves are so important because they start to define us. By the way, if I want to address someone by name I usually go to their page and see if it tells us their real name. I'd rather use a real name than a made up one. Report
I've wondered the same thing and glad you addressed this. Thanks. Report
Please do not use "Hatesexercise." My eyes betrayed me and read that name as hateSEXercise, which left me wondering what sex-ercise was.

Personally, I am more comfortable seeing a tag like "Fatgirl" then I am seeing a name like "1HotMama." I think the name is not a representation of self-hate but rather self-realization. Report
It makes me sad to see the negative names that people choose and I won't respond with "Hi Sadtobefat". To me it seems self defeating. Report
Comment 885- I am so happy you addressed this topic. User names can be a turnoff, or intriguing. Best if it’s descriptive in some way, but negative ones are so very sad. Report
If you use a negative name you may begin to BELIEVE negative thoughts about yourself. It's important to not become so self-engrossed. So many people have it "worse" if you know what I mean. Look up and out for ideas and inspiration for victories. Report
I think some people like to beat themselves up as they expect that type of treatment from others, or have received that type of treatment in the past. I dislike seeing negative screen names; although, I respect the right of each person to pick their own screen name. Perhaps in time, the person will realize they are worthy of good things, and that they are a worthy person. Hopefully, in time, they will pick a screen name more reflective of the truly good person he/she is. Report
I agree that seeing a positive username has a completely different effect than a negative one! I chose mine because my last name has the word bear in it, puns are awesome, and it reminds me to be terrific! If I went by a negative image it'd probably be Used2BThin and who wants to see that all day? I'm getting fitter and taking control of my life so that I can keep being terrific! Report
I've wondered about this same thing! I feel like negative user names don't reflect a positive attitude...which likely ends up hurting the user in the long run. I say choose to be positive even if you have a long way to go! Seeing a negative user name every single time you log into Spark is bound to have some affect on a person's attitude. Why drag yourself down....I say keep it positive or at least neutral! Just makes good sense to me.... Report
Usually in teams other members are addressed with their real names, to me a user name is just the first thing that popped in their head. I guess this is the first time it has been brought to my attention that others have trouble with certain user names. I find the excessive happy happy happy out look to be mostly an example of a person lacking in reality and just as hard to deal with as a very downer person, but their name is theirs and chosen by them and that should be respected. Report
I used to go by IMLOCOLINDA and several sparkers commented on the loco part of the name. I was constantly having to explain that I was a locomotive electrician, I was not calling myself crazy. And I wonder why people are so afraid to say they are fat. It is what it is. I think it's like the AA method of admitting you have a problem. I don't like the other euphemisms, I'm a 'big girl'. I don't pay much attention to the spark names. Those you make friends with usually share a first name anyway. Report
I chose the name to help me to accept that I was overweight and I felt I needed reminded that this was the case. My password, however was a constant reminder of where I would like to be and therefore helped to motivate me to work towards that target. So it was a double edged sword and it worked for me. To know where I came from and where I am now and there is always room for improvement. Does that make sense? Report
I've used negative passwords and can state - for me - it was a real downer. HELPME was one I used. The nice thing about the user accounts is the user doesn't have to type it all the time. "HELP ME TO BELIEVE THE TRUTH ABOUT MYSELF---NO MATTER HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS!" Is a powerful prayer.
Report
I read this blog and the comments and I'm perplexed. I must be much different than the rest of you because I honestly pay no attention to people's screen names. I don't refer to anyone by those because they aren't your name! I find no deep psychological meaning in them and occasionally one will make me laugh but honestly, it seems as if people are reading WAY too much into this. You have to have a login name - choose what you wish. It's not as if it's suddenly inscribed on a birth certificate. I didn't chose mine because "I don't have my own identity". I chose it because it was something that was easy for me to remember. If you don't know me in real life, you don't even know to whom it refers. I'm also glad that non-Americans responded because sometimes we need a reality check. Let's just support each other's goals and struggles and not worry about things that don't matter. Report
I've learned that negative self-talk is really common, and does more damage to your mind than you even know. I'm currently working on recognizing it and removing it from my life, and I feel much better for it. As long as the person isn't self-shaming, and only thinking of it as funny, it wouldn't be a problem. But only that person would know. I LOVE the comment by MSMOSTIMPROVED. Very true :) Report
I deliberately chose a POSITIVE user name. Yes, self-awareness is very important to success. A negative user name suggests that nothing will improve. Report
I say you are over thinking it. Also, you don't know someone else reasoning. It may just be funny to them. Report
I see someone who may be stuck with ideas that they're not worthy nor accepting of their own selves.

Once thing I've learned in the last three years of recovery is that self-kindness and self-compassion and acceptance of self can be learned. I really began making progress in recovery as I practiced these things, even poorly.

Learning to accept ourselves as we are is powerful. If being cruel to my ownself worked, I'd be thin, still married and asleep. Instead, I'm self-aware and I accept how I feel on a given day, usually.

Kindness isn't for strangers or friends or family. It's for our selves.

Buddha wasn't a god. He was a teacher and he learned a lot about what causes suffering and go we can learn to alleviate it. Kindness is one of those things. Report
I agree with you. Some comments talk about how the reader interprets the username.
I worry about how it affects the actual user. When I see someone named LovesChocolate, I wonder why they want to be reminded of chocolate when they are striving to eat less chocolate. Or "hatesexercise" would find it harder to increase their exercise. It seems like these people are their own worst enemies in terms of striving for improved attitudes and healthy lives. I'd encourage them to be their own best cheerleader instead. Report