Friday, February 4, 2011

My Not So Secret Identity

What is in a name?

I could just continue the cliché with another cliché to answer, that is: a lot or nothing at all.
But let me share the small confusion I’ve been experiencing in digital world.

I had never really thought about it before. My first encounter with the digital world had been on creating email, and thinking about the email address had not been something important (at least ideologically and professionally) back then. Since my real name has been in use, I ended up with an email address that I don’t want to use now (yes, the email account had been abandoned for years, and yes, the ‘name problem’ had played an important role in it).

Years later after creating the email, my conscious started to knocking on my brain and asked me to think about how to solve the problem. Well, it became a problem when I was about to finish my college and preparing to join the working force, becoming one of those smart, educated, sober, no-weird-ideas- professionals. Having written a number of applications letters and crafted a CV for couples of time, I started to realize that my email address might become a problem. How would I enter the professional world with an email address that sounds like those Japanese cartoon characters?

So I signed up for another email account, hoping that I would be able to make myself sounds professional this time by having my real name as my email address. It didn’t work. Simply because I have this too common name. There are probably thousands of people in Indonesia – not to mention in other parts of the world – having the same name. And I suspected at least half of them had already signed up for an email account with that name. And surely some of them had failed, just like me.
I learned, ever since, to take the matter more seriously.
It should not be a big deal probably, if only the company I am working for does not embrace the digital world so fully. But it does. And I am actually very glad, as it gives me tons of opportunities and chances to learn, much more than I can get from other company. But along with the huge chances and opportunities, came the rules and regulations.

Understanding too well of the gaps and weaknesses in the digital spheres that might lead us to trouble, our office strongly recommends us to use our real identity to engage in the digital world. We are required to be honest and reveal our true identity when engaging in any online activities. That includes the company we’re working for, and the client we’re working on (if we are doing a certain campaign using our social networking accounts).

As far as I know, using your real, full name is the simplest yet important way to indicate your honesty and professionalism. People will easily recognize you from your real name. And they will at once understand that you’re not some pseudo personalities who cannot make up your mind of what to do and what to be in the digital spheres. I completely have no objection in using my real name in any of my online presence. The problem is I can’t. Because my name has already been taken. Years ago, I suppose.

I cannot use my full name, as it will violate the unwritten rule in the digital world that your id should be easy enough to pronounce, and short enough to remember. And no, I cannot use my initials because it sounds just impossible. I have to create a user id that is not my name, but somehow still resembles my name so that people will automatically relate the name to me, and most important is, sounds professional.

I succeeded in some accounts, where my name had not so much been taken by everybody else, so I can still have my real name as a user id, with little variations of punctuation mark as far as the accounts allowed them to. In other accounts, however, I have to be satisfied with other names that don’t even close to my name.

You can argue that there might be a creativity issue there. But when your name is a very common one like me, I am sure you know what I mean. Even creativity doesn’t seem to be working. At the end of the day, I would just have to be satisfied with some words, other than, and not even close to my name, to be my user id. Just like the one I have now.

I don’t want to be secretive. I am not a fan of the pseudo personalities scattered in the digital spheres. I know the limit of private and public in it very well, that is, nothing actually private there, even in your own blog. So I know exactly what to say and what not to say to stay safe and healthy in the digital spheres. I have no interest of sounding mysterious. I want to be honest and reveal my true identity. Only I cannot do it with my real name.

Now does it make any sense at all?

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