Today, I tried to open a google+ account using my real name.
As I found out, my real name is not cool enough for the guys at Google because when I tried to open a google+ account using my real name (which they encouraged, I might add) I was greeted with a screen that told me that my real name was in violation of their naming policy.
This is mainly because as humans we rely on computers that are set to specific algorithms when giving names. We don’t, as most people think try to give our children names with cultural significance, meaning or any such other non-programmable variable that would not get picked up by computer algorithms.
With the knowledge that Google is an American company I had a gut feeling that if I had a, how you say… “normal” name, I probably would not have this problem.
I admit that as far as names go, mine is pretty rare, even by African standards. I’m not quite sure where the name “Berkia” comes from or what it means but I’ve been led by many to believe that it has Afghan roots and it means a strong man (surprise, surprise).
I therefore did what any self-respecting African would do when faced with such a situation, I changed my name (on google+ at least). I figured that since my name sounded weird to google+ I would change my name to Blanket Jackson (the name of Michael Jackson’s kid in case you were wondering he is the one who was dangled out of the window of a Hotel by his then alive, crazy and always weird Pop King of a father).
I did that more as a joke than anything and it actually worked (as you can see from the picture below).
Since my name is not actually Blanket I tried to change my profile name back after successfully opening a google+ account and guess what? It wouldn’t let me change it back. Instead it asked me to provide urls where I have been addressed using the name Berkia Banda to prove that I am who I say I am.
I am still awaiting a reply from the guys at google (apparently it will take 24 hours). While I wait I just thought I’d let them know that I’m not chaffed about this.
In 2012 you would not think that the John Smiths, Jane Smiths and Blanket Jacksons of the world have less stress opening google+ pages simply because someone at google is not progressive enough to develop a naming policy that is inclusive.
I mean, what if my name really is Butros Butros Gali or上官文清上官文清 (Shangguan Wenqing)? Does this mean that I have to wait 24 hours longer than normal people (the Johns and the Janes) to start using google plus?