Becoming Mrs. Social Media

Thursday, 24 March 2011

I’m a pretty newfangled girl in a lot of ways. My husband, who’s a few years older, calls me a “digital native.” I think that has something to do with the fact that my first AIM screen name pre-dates my first kiss. But when it came to getting married, I went traditional in a lot of ways. (Minus the Twitter mentions in the vows and Foursquare check-in for the ceremony, of course.)

To Have and To Hold, Online and Off

But there was never any question in my mind that I wanted to take my husband’s name. It wasn’t so much that I liked the name. It was his, and now ours. Since I was little I always assumed I would be a Mrs., like my mom. And while it’s becoming more and more common to keep your maiden name, at least professionally, I never considered it. Even with all the online equity I had in my old name, I wanted to do this the traditional way.

The internet helped in a lot of ways. (Check out MissNowMrs if you’re looking to change your name. Huge help.) But it also threw me a few curveballs. How can it be easier to stand in line at the RMV then get a new profile URL? And if I was getting this frustrated changing my name for a happy occasion, imagine if it was a more bittersweet moment?

Websites Are Biased Toward Your Birth Name

Websites that won’t let you change your username or URL discriminate. And not just against married women who want to take their husband’s names, although that’s a large part of it. It’s a valid, legal reason to change your name. As is divorce, honoring a loved one, changing your gender or heck, just because you love Saved By The Bell and always wanted to be Kelly.

Forget an ex husband. Celebrate a new one. Or put years of childhood torment behind you and start fresh. Whatever your reason, you should be allowed to change your name on any website, just as with any bank or credit card company.

I’ve gone through the very paper heavy offline change, as well as online and I gotta say: it’s a pain in the butt. No one will take it lightly. There are links to update, followers to notify. And that’s without all the legal mumbo jumbo! I can understand why sites can’t deal with people changing names and profile URLs every day. But if I’ve got a legal document proving I’ve got a new last (or first) name, you better be able to give me the URL to match.

It seems strange to me that some of the most forward-thinking websites won’t allow you to change your name at all, or more than once. If Twitter can figure out how to seamlessly switch over all of your followers, favorites, font colors and preferences, why won’t Slideshare or Flickr give me a new URL?

See my friend Sandra’s take on some of the other winners and losers here.

6 Comments

  • Great post Alison, definitely an issue I had never thought of and will want to keep in mind as I prepare to ask my girlfriend to marry me this summer (and hopefully take the name plunge as well). Thanks for the advice and increased awareness.

    Comment by @bigchrissm — March 24, 2011 @ 5:11 pm
  • Wow, I never even considered that. You’d think sites like flickr would be able to accommodate, unless the name was already in use. You’re new last name is cool though, two R’s and two L’s. :)

    Comment by Michael Dorausch — March 24, 2011 @ 5:15 pm
  • Great post! This is definitely something I considered when creating my Facebook custom URL. I opted not to use my last name in it and am now engaged.

    Comment by @MemphisMarly — March 24, 2011 @ 5:21 pm
  • This is a great post and something I never even considered.

    On the other side of the spectrum: I work in education and often look for graduates online, in social networks, to re-connect. It can be incredibly difficult trying to find them when they have changed their last name, with the exception of Facebook which allows your display name to show maiden and married.

    I guess what this really means is that your first marriage is to your online persona – the handle you use to create accounts across the web.

    Comment by Ali — March 25, 2011 @ 9:52 am
  • Loved reading this post. I totally agree that the internet needs to be more adaptable to name changes. Luckily for me, I prepared myself a long time ago. For my website and most of my online accounts I only use my first and middle name. This was great when I finally did get married and changed my last name. But I know not everybody has that option.

    Comment by Heidi Vail — March 25, 2011 @ 10:00 am
  • The fact that you had Twitter mentions in your vows is the funniest part.

    Comment by Victor Johnson — April 17, 2011 @ 4:20 am

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