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Beemer

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True Names [Aug. 24th, 2015|11:54 pm]
Beemer
I HAVE MY NAME BACK ON FACEBOOK!

At long last, I have jumped through the proper hoops, and Facebook now once again identifies me as Beemer, and it is such a relief I can't even tell you.

It was one of those low-grade background stressors that you get so used to that you can't tell how much it was bothering you until it's gone.

I was planning to post more about the whys and hows of all that, but I've been writing up the story of how I got my name in the first place, and it got long. So maybe later.

But since it's coming up on 24 years (!) that I've had the name, and since I've met a lot of people since then who've never heard the whole story, I thought I'd share.

(The TL;DR version: it's a nickname from college.)

So back when I was an undergraduate at MIT, I lived at one of the 'Tute's Independent Living Groups, TEP. (I call it an ILG rather than a fraternity (which it was - Tau Epsilon Phi) because most people think of parties and binge drinking and less savory things when they hear "frat", and TEP was all about 30-some undergrads living together in a big brownstone (the haus). It was off-campus housing + chosen family + weird subculture = home.)

Anyway, TEP had a tradition of giving every one a nickname. This dates back, so the tale goes, to a time when there were six guys living in the haus named Mike, all of whom were tall and blond. This was before cell phones and there was only one incoming phone number for the whole place, so you'd call and somebody would (eventually) answer the phone and then yell for whoever it was to pick up the phone. People would call up and ask for Mike, and the residents would ask "which one", and the callers would say "tall blond Mike", and the residents would ask "Which one?!". And thus, nicknames came into use.

Nicknames were assigned soon after people arrived, which is to say, at the end of rush, which at the time lasted for about four and a half days. It started on Friday afternoon of R/O (Registration/Orientation) week, bids could be given out starting on Sunday morning and accepted starting Monday morning, and the whole business was basically done by Tuesday. So on Tuesday and Wednesday nicknames would start appearing on the whiteboard by the front desk. Being based on somewhat superficial information and given out by people with a collectively weird sense of humor who'd been running on three hours of sleep per day for several days, the names tended to be peculiar and only tenuously connected to individual they were attached to. For example:

* T-Stop got his name because his last name is Kindel, and Kendall Square is the T station for MIT.

* N'Djamena is named after the capital of Chad. (One guess what his first name is.)

* Sneaker was nicknamed Sneaker because he was wearing the same Converse sneakers as a visiting alum, and someone sleep-addled pointed and said "Sneakers!"

*Bungee was nicknamed Bungee because "it's a good name; we need to name *somebody* Bungee". (I remember supporting the same argument for Spackle a year later.)

Et cetera.

As for me, at that point in my life, I wore Sperry topsiders and had a tendency to tuck my shirt in. Golan decided that this meant I was a yuppie, and that I should therefore be called Beemer. And so it was.

I wasn't very fond of it at first, but it stuck, and before long it was just my name. As is the case today, I still used my given name for official purposes, but socially I was 100% Beemer. By my senior year, I was being introduced to people as Beemer and they'd say "Oh, you're Beemer! I've heard about you!" (I was never able to ascertain any details about what they'd heard, but it seemed to be good things, at least...)

So anyway, then I graduated. I came back to Colorado for grad school and went from having a chosen family of 20-some brothers plus a fair passel of friends outside the house to near-zero on the social front. I had no good friends from high school left in the area and a fairly small cohort of fellow students, plus I was living in a rented room that first semester. It really, really sucked.

At Christmas break that first year, my fraternity "little brother" Wumpf/Rodan (a.k.a. Kevin, who managed to pick up two nicknames), who was from Castle Rock, was back in town and invited me to a holiday get-together. Which yes, of course. So I met some of his high school friends, and they seemed like a pretty good crowd. A few weeks later, I got an invite to come see Twelve Monkeys with some of them, and we had a good time.

I thought to myself, this is a perfectly good social circle that Wumpf's not using because he's off in Massachusetts. It's mine now.

So I started hanging out with them, and became friends with them, and with their friends, and their friends, and in pretty short order had bootstrapped myself back into having a decently-sized social network made up of awesome people.

And, of course, because I had met them through somebody I knew from MIT, I was introduced to them as Beemer. And to all of their friends as Beemer. And once more, while people from school knew me as Seth, socially I was Beemer.

And since it was through some mutual friends from that crowd that I met Jerry, I'm Beemer to my hubby, too. And although I've met a couple people in the bear crowd via other channels (work or grad school) and they therefore know me first by my given name, the vast majority of our bear social network grows from nuclei around Chris & Todd and Pyro, to whom I was introduced as Beemer.

So that's me.

And of course, the last name Tectonic comes from this blog handle right here, which I mulled for quite some time to be sure I liked it before taking the plunge and starting an LJ. Attaching my legal last name to my nickname always felt a little odd to me, so once I was Dr. Tectonic, of course I was Dr. Beemer Tectonic.

(And if you've ever seen me use the monicker Baron Mustache-Wax: it dates from way back in the Dawn Times of blogging, before LJ even, when the idea was still new and journalers were very chary about saying things about other people online that could be connected to their real-world identities. My friend Jessie had such a blog, visited Denver, and wanted to mention me in a post. I said "call me Baron Mustache-Wax," because (1) I was waxing my mustache pretty heavily back then, and (b) the initials of Baron Mustache-Wax are BMW.)


And now you know!

the more you know
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: tbass
2015-08-25 06:05 am (UTC)
Totally didn't know your real name until reading this post.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-26 04:03 am (UTC)
And now you do!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: ajfbs
2015-08-25 12:03 pm (UTC)

Apropos of nothing

A motorcycling friend informed me that "Beemers" properly refer to BMW motorcycles, and the cars (more likely to be associated with yuppies) are "Bimmers" (to avoid confusion with the motorcycles, which BMW made first).

Make of that what you will.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-26 04:03 am (UTC)

Re: Apropos of nothing

I think I will just be glad that I have no reason to be concerned about that confusion.
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From: toosuto
2015-08-25 02:31 pm (UTC)
I say again: huzzah!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-26 04:03 am (UTC)
And woot!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nehrlich
2015-08-25 08:36 pm (UTC)
Yay getting your name back!

Another nickname story I like: Bo decided some pledge should be named Rugburn after a vigorous example of the Wrestling Rule, so he said "Next person to pledge will get the nickname Rugburn!" Andy thought to himself "It could be much worse", and said "I want to pledge!"
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-26 04:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, that seems very Rugburn. (Who I have a really hard time thinking of as an "Andy".)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: siderea
2015-08-26 04:50 am (UTC)
Congrats! What did you have to do to get your name back?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-26 05:40 am (UTC)
Thanks!

Basically, I had to spend $25 on a magazine subscription.

Facebook wants your "authentic name", which they recognize may not be the same as your legal name. So they allow alternate forms of ID. Two of the acceptable forms of ID are "a piece of mail" and a "magazine subscription stub" (by which they mean the mailing label on a magazine). So if you subscribe to a magazine under your preferred name and have someone mail a letter to you under that name (or remember not to throw out the junk mail with a Special Subscription Offer for some other magazine that you will inevitably receive after subscribing to the first one), you can use those plus a government ID to verify your preferred name.

See Option 3 on this page: https://www.facebook.com/help/159096464162185

I did have to upload photos of the three forms of ID to an obscure web form that gave no feedback about the whole process because something was broken. In theory, that should be fixed as of tomorrow or the next day and will no longer be a problem. But knowing somebody from undergrad days at MIT who now works at Facebook and could talk me through it was definitely a big help...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: siderea
2015-08-26 06:15 am (UTC)
Huh. So in no way did they validate your authentic name is actually your authentic name. One could make up absolutely anything, get those two pieces of "ID" together and use that.

That sounds... like not what they wanted to have happen?

P.S. You may have spent $25 too much.

Edited at 2015-08-26 06:17 am (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-28 12:28 am (UTC)
I think it is and it isn't.

On the one hand, Facebook's business model is selling social network info, and they want that vast majority of that data to have real-world names attached to it. On the other hand, as the employee I was talking to explained it, the point of name validation is almost entirely to combat fake accounts used for spamming and harassment; it doesn't get invoked unless someone reports a profile. (I got caught in a malicious reporting spree targeting the gay community, drag queens in particular.)

I think Facebook only really cares about pseudonymity to the extent that it affects the bottom line, so if it's not widespread, they're not actually all that bothered by it. Plus, they're global and huge, so it's really hard to come up with a generic validation system that will work always and everywhere. Putting up a tiny effort barrier is sufficient to shut down most reported spammers and stalkers while still allowing genuine users who actually care to go by something other than what's on their driver's license to stay engaged with Facebook. And that's Good Enough.

Because the thing they're competing against is reported users either leaving (bad) or deciding it's easiest just to create a new account (which messes up the social network graph). And creating a new account has to be easy, or they can't keep growing their product. (Note how FB now has business, fan, and pet pages in addition to personal pages...) So they can only do so much with validation before the knock-on effects start eroding the thing they're selling.

They could probably come up with a different validation system entirely (e.g., asking your friends what they call you), but that costs money and there are soooo many other things that would be better investments.

So I think they want a lot of mutually incompatible things to happen with validation, and me bothering to get a magazine subscription to hang onto the name I like hits enough of those things for them to be meh, whatever about it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-28 12:35 am (UTC)
And I probably did spend too much on a magazine subscription, but I sorta feel like if I'm investing effort into getting a physical object sent to my house every month, I want it to be something I have at least a modicum of actual interest in. Otherwise it feels kinda icky, like an eco-sin...
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[User Picture]From: musikub
2015-09-03 03:36 pm (UTC)

Try and try again

I may have to attempt this process again. I have twice attempted to change my name TO my legal last name on Facebook with no success, and I have even sent them the requested identification. It's funny that my obscure real name is somehow not permitted by them.
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-26 08:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Tut tut, looks like rain…

I think you missed the bit where I'm celebrating switching from my legal name to the one that's NOT attached to my credit rating.

But we need not let that stand in the way of an Official Wet Blanket Award, if that what's you're angling for.
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[User Picture]From: danthered
2015-08-26 09:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Tut tut, looks like rain…

Yeah, I must've driven right past that road sign…sorry; I'm a leetle outta sorts today. Didn't mean to get any of it on you.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-26 09:02 pm (UTC)

Re: Tut tut, looks like rain…

No worries. It'll wash right out. ;)
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-28 12:36 am (UTC)
Your flattery is charming, but waaaaaay off-base for that stage of my life. ;)
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[User Picture]From: kybearfuzz
2015-08-27 12:49 pm (UTC)
Congrats on getting your Beemer back over there!

And I love the idea of nicknames, but I'd be terrified of what others would pick for me.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-08-28 12:38 am (UTC)
Thanks!

The thing is that after a while a nickname ceases to mean anything and just becomes a tag. Whatever it was, after a while it would just mean YOU.
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[User Picture]From: thedragonweaver
2015-09-11 05:00 am (UTC)
So randomly, in the "small world" storyline, about nine years ago I took somebody to her first Ren Faire. It was odd that it was her first, as I'd met her through theater and she had a one-woman show called Shakespeare on Request, where she would do a scene from EVERY Shakespeare play. She said that she used to read Shakespeare as a study break when she was at MIT. So I said that I knew the philosophy major from MIT. Whereupon it developed that *she* knew Kevin.

Though for some reason, neither of us could remember his last name, which we were convinced started with an M. (You see the problem with that.)
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