Saturday, March 28, 2015

[last name]

Recently, my teenage daughter had to remove her existing Gmail account and create a new one.

(It has something to do with purchasing some online product and having to register her online identity . . . during which time we found that her email account was mistakenly set up as being in the United Kingdom. [WHAT?!] It's a long, frustrating story that isn't really relevant to what I'm writing about right now.)

But somehow it got me thinking about digital identities and daughters. And I suppose some of it is tangentially related to the reaction I posted yesterday about gay rights, and individual rights, and . . .

Well, anyway.

THIS morning I suddenly thought about what may happen to any of my daughters when they (maybe someday) get married. They might choose to change their last name and if they do, what will that mean to their online email identities? Most likely they will have spent one or more decades establishing something of a digital presence. And that presence will most likely be tied in part to their given last name--my last name.

So, how then will they deal with the potential confusion of an email address (at the very least) that doesn't accurately reflect that last name? Will email providers make it easy to change a username/email itself and retain years and years of data, emails, and whatever under a new identity? Or will women be forced to lose all of that data because that information can't be transferred from a childhood/early adulthood presence to a new identity under a different name?

Are my children the first full generation who have grown up with this choice facing them? I know in the case of my kids that when they are creating their digital user names/online avatars/email addresses, they certainly are not thinking about the possibility of getting married and having to change their name.

So . . . maybe they just won't do it.

And maybe that particular tradition will begin to wane. And could the thing that drives it be simply the imperatives of technology? Not a significant shift in cultural expectations or social mores, but just the weight of a digital life that had not been a part of someone's identity anytime in the past.

Something to pay attention to.

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