Monday, August 16, 2010

Raised Eyebrows

Overheard in the teacher workroom this morning:

Colleague 1: They’re paying him 10 million dollars to suck.

Colleague 2: I’d suck for 10 million dollars.

A momentary pause as we all digested that statement followed by uproarious laughter.

Colleague 2: I guess I could have worded that better.

We’ve all made an innocent statement that would raise an eyebrow when taken out of context. But how many of us are throwing out intentional eyebrow raisers everyday in professional situations? As I’ve sifted through parent information in the last several days to set up distribution lists, I’ve spent a lot of time with my eyebrows raised.

Yes people…I’m talking about your email addresses.

Most folks have a fairly innocuous email address consisting of some version of their name. I’d say this group accounts for 75% or so of all the emails I entered. I'm in this group. Both my work and my personal email are my name with punctuation thrown in the middle to make it unique.

Some people need something snazzier than punctuation to make them unique, so they create clever “handles.” Their appellations fall on a continuum moving from silly to ridiculous to Oh My God. As I entered the addresses into my distribution lists, I discerned a pattern.

If you’re using something other than your name, your email address generally says one of three things. “I think I’m cute,” “I think I’m a badass,” or “I’m trolling the Internet for sex.” I came across one or two outliers that don’t fall into an obvious category, and there might be a fourth category called “I’m really serious about my religion,” but mostly it’s those three.

Note: I have enough sense not to post someone’s actual email address, so none of the examples I’m using are real. But they do retain the spirit of the actual names.

The “I think I’m cute” category includes handles like fuzzywuzzy, whatsupdoc, and any derivation of the word angel. Really, lots of people think they are angels. (Some people think they're devils, but they don’t fall into this category.) Mostly, these addresses just make me roll my eyes.

The "I think I'm a badass" email addresses make me laugh which I'm pretty sure is not what the authors of these handles were going for. Not to stereotype, but more men than women have "I think I'm a badass" names. Some brag about their car...ferrari_man, myrimsarehuge, monster.truckin. Others, their military career...sniper007...although, maybe the guy just plays a lot of video games. Some are reliving the glory days of their athletic careers...linebacker1985. One creative fellow had a reference to a bodily function combined with a military term I can't even begin to mimic. I stared at it for a full minute before typing it into my list. I was convinced I had read it wrong.

Blowing all of the previous email addresses out of the water are the "I'm trolling the Internet for sex" handles, and I hate to say it, but these are all women. It boggles the mind that mothers actually wrote these names down on a form for their child's teacher. Names like hotchick4U and sexy_secretary. Seriously, the actual names really are this bad. I feel sorry for the kids who had to hand the forms to me. They had to be embarrassed.

The lesson my friends is that you should all have at least one reasonably professional sounding email address. If you want to troll the Internet for sex, have at it. I don't care what you do in the privacy of your own home, but for Pete's sake, don't make that the email address you give to people who actually know you and have to look you in the face. Your nifty email handle puts a visual in my imaginative writer's brain that I can't unsee.

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