Facebook’s in the Name’s business – Is "your" name your name?

by globalissima

Facebook uses names successfully. This company is a name hunter. They earn money with your name. Your name is valuable.

Facebook is also in the “association” business. They associate your name to everything that it can possibly be associated to - if you let them. Every time you click on the “like” button, you attach your name to a person, a product an event, or to a line of thought. Networking in social groups is all about your name. Social networks are about relationships, as the name implies. The awkward thing about this form of modern relationship building is though, that you are not out there in the cyber world yourself as physical person but only your name is. That’s logical because you can’t be online all the time. In the physical world, you might meet in a café or restaurant and when the meeting is over, you leave. Nobody is going to post your name on the billboard, stating: Sandra, John and Evan were here. That would be totally strange. That may happen to you if you were a star and then you’d have to have your picture taken, give an autograph, and then the picture with the autograph would be framed and hung on the wall for everyone to see.

With facebook we can be VIPs all the time

The never-ending story-telling business about ourselves

With facebook, we can be VIPs all the time. All of us can post our pictures, and give a record of what we’re doing. Everyone can follow us, if we let them and if they want to and everyone can comment. We are establishing a name for ourselves. We are making our name known. And with it, we are conveying a lot about ourselves.

In the World Wide Web, we have come accustomed to this. We meet our friends virtually and even though we might be offline and they might be offline too, our meeting is still taking place. It is never ending. There’s a log of it that we can go back to again and again. The natural ending in the physical world isn’t there.

We are all involved in the never ending story-telling business about ourselves. Our name is constantly up there, visible to all.

Names are very important in the professional world. Imagine two students of philosophy meeting up with each other. They don't know each other yet and they need to know what the other person's view is on a number of topics. One could, of course, discuss every topic in detail but then they would have to meet for many days. Instead, they each convey to the other what their preferred philosophers and schools of thought are.

Bingo! Within a few minutes, they have successfully introduced themselves to each other.

An Icelandic Horse in the Wild
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Monica Lewinsky - It's not always great to have a "name double"

Every person has a name and that name tells a story

People’s names tell a story. They come from different walks of life. They live in different countries. They belong to different ethnic groups. Every person has a name and that name tells a story.

It is fascinating to see how people got their surnames and why certain names were chosen as given names for them at their birth. The given name does not identify your family relationship. It is your identification within the family.

Names are important. Can you imagine how it would be to share your name with someone else? Most of the time, you will never meet another person Who has exactly the same first and second name but, of course, there's always the possibility of a name double somewhere in the world.

For instance, when Monica Lewinsky's "improper relationship" with Bill Clinton became public, other Monica Lewinsky’s around the world weren't that amused about it. They were confronted with Monica Lewinsky's life story on a personal level and had to pay attention to it. There was no getting away from it.

You can be certain: The other Monica Lewinsky's of this world were totally relieved when the media hype about this affair eventually died down.

Semi versus Banani - One name, one brand - a marketing hoax

A name is not just a name

Did you know that the a man from Tonga competed in the luge event? This guy was introduced to the German public as Mr. Bruni Banani and one surely got the impression that this was his original name and that it was a coincidence that was picked up by the brand Bruno Banani, a Germany underwear company, thus making it a win-win situation both for the Tongan luger as well as for the underware firm.

But then, when you surfed on non-German websites - even quite a while ago - you were informed that this man's name is actually Fuahea Semi. German media were totally "fascinated" by this Tongan luger, especially because he was bearing such a coincidental name. But then it turned out to be a marketing hoax. It was reported that Semi actually changed his name officially to Bruno Banani. Whether that report was true, hasn't been confirmed yet. 

That makes you wonder to what lengths people go just to get more media coverage. A name is not just a name.

In this case, Semi got a lot of positive coverage just because of this. Finally, in January 2012, the German magazine, "Der Spiegel" uncovered Semi's name change as a marketing ploy. The Germans realized this considerably late. Obviously, they weren't following the international press closely enough. In this case, Semi had been Semi all his life and turned into Bruno Banani. It wasn't his original name. He named himself after a brand for his and the brand's benefit. 

This has opened a whole new chapter on personal identy issues and use of brands.

While Semi's new name may not have been his original name, it may well be his real name now, in case his identiy was changed to Bruno Banani. 

The vice president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, is said to have commented that besides the name change being "bad taste", there would be nothing the IOC could do about letting Semi alias Bruno Banani compete under that name, should Semi qualify for the 2014 Olympics and should his passport bear that name "Bruno Banani".

Changing your name as a marketing scheme, isn't entirely new. People have chosen pseudonyms instead of their real names that could be marketed better. But that's not changing your identity as a whole. In case of Semi, his identity is now a brand. Would you like to be identified with men's underwear and live with this for the rest of your life?

It is to be hoped that Semi did not really follow this through and change his identity. He would be haunted by the Bruno Banani brand for the rest of this life.

The tradition of naming

Naming your children

In Western countries we refer to our first name as our Christian name. That's the given name.
Arabic names - originally - didn't simply have a given middle and family name but a long chain of names.
Everyone in the Arab world adhered to this system.
In our modern societies this has become impractical. Maybe that's the reason why today, Arabic names have a similar structure to modern and Western names.
A name can convey geographical or ethnic information but it can also convey what religion a person was born into.
People from Muslim countries mostly have Arabic name because Arabic is so very important in Islam.
In our Western countries, people may have Biblical names (Hebrew or Greek) or traditional names that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Nowadays, children are often given a forename because their parents liked a certain character in a soap or movie or they just "love" a certain actor or writer.

People are emotional about names

Don't lose your good name!

People are emotional about names.

If we meet someone who isn't particularly nice to us and his name is, for instance, George, we may not like that name as much as we did before. If we meet several Georges who we dislike, we will definitely not like that name anymore. A name has a meaning. We associate so many different things with it. Good or bad experiences with the name carrier can make us like or dislike a name. Should we happen to meet a really nice guy and his name is George, we would - instinctively - be watchful and reserved until we can be sure that he's different.

Calling other people names is something that can really hurt. It can outrage you or make you feel really worthless.

If names were not important to us, we wouldn't react to it. But names are important. If someone insults us in this way, we show a strong reaction. It is human. It is meant to be that way.

Our name is valuable. It is very valuable for Facebook. This company earns a lot of money with your name. So do other social networks.

The question we should be asking ourselves is, whether it is wise to be known in such a detailed way out there on the internet. We only have one name and we don’t want to lose our good name, do we?

Updated: 03/03/2012, globalissima
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