05/25/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Changing My Twitter Handle, a Stressful Situation

Since first joining Twitter back in 2008, under the handle @columbiajames, after learning of the social media tool while studying at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism (hence the "columbia" part of my Twitter account), I have spent much time branding myself on Twitter and nearly every other social networking platform out there with the same name. But, since my time as a Columbia University graduate student is long over, I no longer see the need to brand myself as a "columbia" kind of guy. My tweets are 90% entertainment based since I work as an entertainment journalist, not a trait easily associated with Columbia's journalism program.

However, changing a Twitter name is serious business, at least to me and my fellow new media geeks. Will followers be lost when I drop @columbiajames and start tweeting under my new handle @SimsJames? Luckily, Twitter allows you to change a user name without losing any of your current followers, but there's no telling what the fallout might be if a casual reader doesn't recognize the new name and dismisses it without paying close attention. I wouldn't blame them. I've been known to slash my following list when I start seeing weird stuff in my Twitter feed. My hope is that my loyal followers -- I like to consider them digital peeps -- will continue enjoying, or at least occasionally paying attention to, my constant barrage of 140-character showbusiness tweets.

My work for, the Huffington Post,, and any other entertainment outlet I currently create content for will continue to drive my Twitter feed, as will interesting showbusiness news stories from around the web. I'll also continue snapping Twitpics -- one never knows when another digital photo might get me featured in the New York Times -- and sometimes interesting personal tidbits that relate to my chosen career path.

@SimsJames came about because no other logical combination of my name, James Sims, was available on Twitter. What can I say, I'm popular. I also didn't want to brand my Twitter account with any adjectives, like "entertainment," "showbiz" or "broadway" as one never knows where my professional life might take me in the future. I'll be honest, the idea of switching from @columbiajames to any other Twitter handle was a bit stressful. I've become attached to that name over the years. But the deed has been done. So, if you currently follow me on Twitter, you don't have to fix anything. And if you don't follow me yet, then feel free to take a look at @SimsJames. There might be a new social networking friendship lurking in the wings.