A few days ago I tried to join Quora. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but instead I came across yet another unpleasant reminder of one of the most ridiculous aspects of my life. In a nutshell, the site insists on real names. I fact they are pretty adamant about it (facebook at least allows you to use the name you go by in your everyday life). That doesn’t sound so bad, and considering its nature as a Q&A site it sort of makes sense, as it can help keep things honest. The problem is that I am one of those people for whom the very concept of a ‘real name’ is somewhat problematic. Why? Well, because I had the misfortune of being born in one of those countries with stupid laws that restrict the names parents can give to their children, and the name my parents had chosen for me was not on the authorized list. That means that the one I consider my real name, the one my parents gave me the day I was born, does not match the one on my birth certificate, and since the name is deemed to be illegal changing it is not exactly an option. For the most part it is a minor annoyance. Sure, having to explain that discrepancy time and time again can be frustrating, but that is basically the extent of it. It is when I come across something like a site’s registration form, where there is no way to explain, it does morph into a real problem.
Oh, I know I could have signed up using the one I consider my real name, and as long as I played by the [the rest of] the rules chances are that no one would have caught up to that fact that I was ‘cheating’, but doing so didn’t feel right. Instead I turned away.
I am who I am, and the privilege of joining a website does not warrant my being publicly associated with the travesty that I consider my legal name to be, not after I’ve spent most of my life trying to leave the blasted thing behind.