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Changing your name in a social media age

May 17, 2012 by Jenn Hoffman

Wedding? Check. Honeymoon? Check. Name change? Check, sort of.

When I was in college (a while ago), like many nefarious undergraduates, I had a fake ID. It was a 'good one' only in that it worked several times. The license expired four years before I acquired it, listed my age as 28, my name was Rhonda, my hair was feathered, and I lived on Beaver Lane in Ohio. 

Other than my brief stint as Rhonda from Ohio, I've always been Jenn Rarick. It's a little hard to say, especially for Elmer Fudd, and it sounds a bit like 'generic,' but it's me.

Fast forward to May 2012, and I'm changing my identity — permanently this time. On April 29, I married Jason Hoffman in front of a priest and a rabbi (insert your joke here), and I instantaneously gained a husband and access to a great last name.

I excitedly set about changing my name. In this social media age, it affected much more than my bank account and my social security card. I like to think I've done a nice job with my 'personal brand,' as cheesy as that sounds. I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, the Pivot site, etc.

Unfortunately, so is the other Jenn Hoffman. My nom de same lives in LA, had a brief stint on The Apprentice, and doesn't like to wear clothing online. Hmmm.

Even if I didn't have a dishwater-blond doppelganger, I've worked hard on my social persona. Should I change?

For now, I've decided on a hybrid approach — to avoid confusion with the nudie patootie. Legally, Jenn Hoffman. At work, Jenn Hoffman. On Facebook + LinkedIn, Jenn Rarick Hoffman. On Instagram, Jenn from Pivot. You get the idea.

This is not an earth-shattering problem. But, it does make me wonder…in a social media age, will a robust online profile deter us from changing our names? As our identities become more intertwined with our online profiles will we forgo new identities for established ones?


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3 Responses to "Changing your name in a social media age"

Christopher says:
This question is especially prominent in the publishing industry, as you can imagine. Most of my writer pals tend to take the "celebrity name change" approach, similar to what you've settled on: legally, they take their husband's name, but publicly, they still publish under their maiden names.
MAY 20, 2012
Julia says:
This is a great question. With the rise of social media, we're all "celebrities" to a degree within our own circles... Celebrities rarely change their commonly-used names for fear of losing brand equity and recognition. We have the same challenge for maintaining our audiences. I think it's very likely that hyphenation or otherwise using both maiden and married names together will become way more popular in the coming years.

P.S. Congratulations!
MAY 18, 2012
Heather Quigley-Allen says:
This is exactly why I chose to hyphenate! Congratulations on your marriage.
MAY 18, 2012

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