Names are important. Many parents pore over baby name books for hours trying to find the name that will suit who they think their child will be, some wait til the child is born to make sure that the name truly does suit. Writers are the same. I almost always know the character before I give them a name. When I say I know the character I'm not talking about how they look, or even what their favourite things are (actually this usually comes after the name) but how they speak, what they say, what they mean (yes these are completely different). The name completes the character and it is my personal belief that if the name is wrong then it won't work - something I'm currently experiencing with the main character of my novel in progress; I haven't got his name right and therefore I don't completely know him which leads to the fact that I can't write him, or the story, convincingly.
It is not just parents and writers who struggle with names. Names are important to everyone. When we hear a name, most of us immediately our own imaginations about that person. Not only that, but we are all trying to project the right image. The internet allows us to be who we want to be, and many of us use psydoenyms or screen names, which have taken possibly hours, days, weeks to create. Especially as we don't want someone else's name and so have to be more inventive and creative if we don't want to add long lists of numbers to them.
But why do we spend so much time deciding names for either ourselves, our children, our characters? I think it's all about perception. Even though we are constantly being told we can be who we want, that we shouldn't worry about what other people think of us, we are also being told the exact opposite. Media is constantly bombarding us with the 'ideal' person and so we choose to follow or react against them - either way, we are making a conscious choice about how we want to be viewed. And as I mentioned earlier, the name is the first thing that creates the image - people view the name and judge the name before the rest of the person is even considered. So what image are you projecting? What does your handle say about you?