Last week me and Sean‘s marriage certificate arrived. This was pretty exciting because it meant that I had the paperwork needed to change my last name to ‘Bonner.’ I already started registering on some sites with “Tara Bonner” and Jason bought me the domain tarabonner.com.
I started researching how to change my last name, and it’s not as straightforward as I had hoped because I am Canadian and I am in the US as a permanent resident. Doing this research has caused me to pause and think about what it means to change my last name.
In my previous marriage, I had absolutely no intention of changing my last name. It just wasn’t something that I even thought about doing. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t a fan of the last name or because I was much more liberated in my youth. Doesn’t really matter. In my new and improved second marriage to Sean, I was excited by the prospect of showing my commitment by changing my last name. To me it meant unity, putting both my feet in, being a family, etc.
Undoubtedly I still feel that way, but I am wondering what will happen to my online identity. Will people looking for me be able to find me? On many sites I don’t have a way to easily switch from “Tara Brown” to “Tara Bonner” let alone provide some sort of note to indicate that I am the same person.
Some sites make it easy to change your display and login names as long as they are still available, and others make you re-register. Right now it’s a damn mess because I’m either “tara,” “tarabrown,” or “tarabonner” all over the Internet. I didn’t make notes about who I am on any particular site so I’m going to be relying a lot on that much used feature “forgot login?”
It occurred to me that Microformats may help with this issue, but I need to check in with the experts on that and I highly doubt it will solve all my problems across all websites because there is no UI on any of them that alerts people to a name change.
I have a feeling that I am going to be doing a lot of redirecting and adding “Bonner (BROWN)” to the last name field so the accute will realize that “Tara Brown” and “Tara Bonner” are one in the same. I’m going to have to send emails, tweets, posts, maybe even some snail mail until people know that I still exist, just in a slightly different format. At least my inititals “tlb” remain the same so I don’t have to change them in Microsoft Office because God only knows how you do that.
If you’ve gone through the pain of changing your online identity, I would love to hear any tips you might have.