Everyone wants to be liked by other people. Even people who mow their lawns at 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning want to be liked by other people. But measuring exactly how many people like you is difficult. People might come to your party just for the peach cobbler.
Facebook pages, however, measure exactly how many people like you. And being liked is completely different from being friends. Lots of people are friends with people they don’t like.
I created a Facebook page to measure exactly how many people liked me, and because of this cryptic passage I read at location 195/542 in Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer:
“All writers need a fan page.”
I created the page, uploaded a photo, wrote a self-serving blurb, and picked a gender. I started inviting my friends to like me so that I could get the magic 25 needed for a username. I wanted a username so that when I make business cards, the URL to my Facebook page is a neat “facebook.com/username” instead of the messy “facebook.com/firstname-lastname/longstringofnumbers.”
And I wanted my username to be exactly the same as my Twitter handle, MarkKaplowitz. When you go through life with a first name that ends in the same letter and sound that begins your last name, you always fear that the two names run together in speech and that people won’t know where your first name ends and last name begins.
I think about the others who face this issue: Julia Allison. Michael Lewis. Adam Morrison. Jennifer Runyon, who played Gwendolyn Pierce on Charles in Charge. Roald Dahl. David Duchovny. William McKinley. Julius Caesar (using the Anglicized pronunciation). These high achievers somehow got the world to know their first and last names. When I saw that HTML was treating all names, big and small, on a lowercase basis, I worried that my concatenated k’s would be seen as one. I needed a way to show differentiation.
And then I stumbled across Jody Hedlund’s Facebook page, with “AuthorJodyHedlund” as its username. So it was possible! I practiced typing my social media contact information on an imaginary business card:
Something was missing. Then I saw it:
Killer! The capital M, lowercase k, and capital K were dressed like the Blue Devils drum line! Now no one would be confused.
My 25th like arrived last Friday afternoon. With shaking hands I went to Facebook’s username portal, and was curtly informed that “MarkKaplowitz” was taken, just like that Steven Spielberg miniseries about aliens.
Who was this thief, this scoundrel, this cur, this knotty-pated fool who dared to take my username?
I scrolled down and found my answer. It was me. I had stolen my own name.
A few months ago, Facebook had offered me the opportunity to pick a username for my personal profile. I had clicked on “confirm” because I like to click on things. And Facebook’s help page said that usernames could not be transferred, period.
I searched for another way. I found a post from August, 2010 that explained that one could release a username from a profile, and then immediately claim it for a page. But the comments indicated that this strategy became risky in November. I could not take risks.
One of the comments to that post proposed filing a Facebook copyright infringement claim against yourself. I was skeptical but desperate. I filled out Facebook’s form. It asked for the name I was claiming and typed “markkaplowitz” and hit submit. I wanted quick resolution, and a few seconds elapsed before I’d realized what I’d done.
I had forgotten to type “MarkKaplowitz” as I’d planned. My business cards! My perfectly aligned usernames! My dispelling of confusion!
I received an email from Facebook confirming receipt of my request to transfer “markkaplowitz” from my profile to my page. I drafted this reply:
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,
I make reference to the username “markkaplowitz” that is currently the subject of a copyright dispute. In the event I prevail against myself, I would prefer that the username for my page be entered as “MarkKaplowitz” with the first letters of my first and last name capitalized. Makes it a little easier to read. Sorry for being such a pain. I love what you’ve done here. I did not see The Social Network.
As the cursor stood poised over the send button, a voice inside my head said, “Don’t push it.” But a louder voice said, “Follow your dreams.” So I sent the email, went in the bathroom to throw up, and stepped outside for some fresh air.
I walked to a park, took a seat on a bench, and watched people. A mother licked her hand to wipe her child’s face. A guy in a backwards baseball cap scratched his chin while his girlfriend sent a text message. A silver-haired man in a seersucker suit strolled by with a house cat on a leash. The world showed nothing but indifference.
I went back to my computer. No emails from Facebook, no change to the username. I tried to blog, but the words weren’t coming. I needed that username.
As the hours passed I became convinced that I would not get the transfer. I would have to be “MarkKaplowitz2” or “TheRealMarkKaplowitz” or “ThatGuyWhoWritesThoseRememberWhenPostsOnSchlabadooDotCom.” My business card would look messy. My career would stagnate. I would grow old on that park bench, telling myself over and over that I never should have sent that email.
And then I refreshed my page for the millionth time and saw that the username had been transferred. It was “markkaplowitz” without any capitalization. And I thought to myself, “You know, it looks kind of chic in all lowercase. Maybe I should change my Twitter name to all lowercase. For the business cards.”
Have you created a Facebook page? Did you have any difficulty choosing a username? What are your thoughts on capitalization in URLs? What are your thoughts on crazy Facebook obsessions?