I cannot imagine what it's like to have an unusual name. Apparently, it does, on occasion, cause difficulties for people. Especially on Facebook.
Take Caitlin Shaw. She registered on the site using her new, married name. Then she wanted to add her maiden name. The Facebook machine reacted as if she'd belched in church.
You see, Caitlin's maiden name is Batman.
She appealed to the social networking site and was rejected. "The process took me three weeks," she told The Washington Post. She e-mailed. They e-mailed her back, requesting that she send several pictures to prove she did not wear a cape, sport gray tights, and drive cars with exaggerated fins.
Perhaps I exaggerate a little, but Mrs. Batman Shaw was clearly irked that she had to prove she was no joke. Finally, Facebook let her become who she already was.
The Post disinterred many people with innocent names that incite Facebook's bouncers: Tim Six, Becky Super, and Bess Pancake, for example.
And listen to this from one of Oregon's most understanding librarians: "You don't grow up with a last name like Kisser without developing a sense of humor and an appreciation for the absurd."
In a remarkable act of survival, Keith Kisser has grown up with that name and prospered. Facebook, he believes, is "clearly not in touch with the sometimes eccentric names that people have."
Facebook representative Meredith Chin refuses to take the criticism on the, oh, no, I'm not going to stoop to their level. She believes the number of real Batmans is probably "fewer than the number of people who could potentially misuse the name on the site."
Probably? We're dealing in probabilities rather than people's real, certain, distressed feelings of humiliation and rejection?
The saddest part is that sometimes people just give in to Facebook and use different names. Some with the surname Christmas end up resorting to Lchristmas.
Another Batman, Miranda (not related to Caitlin), balked when Facebook asked her to fax a copy of her drivers license. Instead, she used her husband's former name, Stewart. (You see, he's a loving man who knows sexy when he sees it; he took on her Batman name when he married her.)
After a lawyer's intervention--yes, a lawyer's--Miranda finally won the right to be herself, to be a Batman.
Although I myself have an ordinary name (however, Facebook still cannot decide if I am male or female), one of my Facebook friends is the great Gerrit Six, the Belgian who tried to sell his country on eBay. I am not aware that he struggled to become accepted by the nameless and faceless machines at Facebook. Perhaps he slipped under the radar because he didn't post any pictures of himself breast-feeding a baby.
However, perhaps there are some of you out there who have fought for your heritage against the robots manning the gates to Facebook Heaven. Please do tell.