It recently dawned on me that upwards of 80 percent of my married female friends on Facebook include their maiden name as their Facebook name, listed like a middle name before their married surname-even women who have not gone by their maiden names in 40 years. I even did it for a while myself, until a couple of years ago. Now, I have no references to my maiden name on Facebook, and this is why:
- My maiden name is weird. Were you expecting something more profound? Well, I can honestly say this is the primary reason. My maiden name is long, German, and, for some reason, difficult for people to pronounce and spell. It’s not as bad as Frankenstein or Wienerschnitzel, but it’s not pretty. I joke with my husband that I married him for his normal last name. I love my family, I worship my parents, and I respect my still-living grandparents. Nevertheless, I don’t feel a particular attachment to my maiden name. I left it in the past when I got married. Those of you ladies who were formerly Miss Dick or Miss Keister will probably understand where I’m coming from.
- It’s not necessary. I used to think it was the only way for “old high school friends” to know who I was on Facebook. That’s not true. Under your account preferences, you can add an alternate searchable name (this can also be a nickname). You can choose to include it on your profile page or not. Regardless, I am locatable under my maiden name for that very small group of people who, after my five years on Facebook, still 1) have not sent me a friend request and 2) do not know my married name. If they don’t know my married name and don’t remember how to spell my weird maiden name, why on earth would they want to be friends with me (other than to enjoy my witty status updates)?
- Who am I? Hillary Rodham Clinton? Please don’t take this the wrong way. I have no problem whatsoever with how any woman chooses to incorporate her maiden name into her new married name or identity, if she chooses to do so at all. It’s a personal choice. I, however, made the decision not to keep my maiden name. I’m not a movie star or a CEO, and obviously I don’t have a cool maiden name like Moon (which was, I kid you not, Buzz Aldrin’s mom’s maiden name). One day I just realized that my Facebook name, when it included my maiden name, seemed sort of silly. It looked like I was holding on to a former identity, making a social statement, or trying to make myself look more important than I am. I’m a happy homemaker who is perfectly content being a Mrs. I simply haven’t been Miss Hard-to-Pronounce-Last-Name for many years.
- Security. I’ll admit that if I were really concerned about my online security, I wouldn’t be on Facebook at all. But I’ve heard that it can be potentially risky to use your maiden name online because it’s an oft-asked security question for you or your kids. Like I said, my main reason for ditching the maiden name is that mine is a mouthful, not for any lofty identity-theft-thwarting purposes. Nevertheless, it makes my online identity a little bit safer.
I’m not trying to persuade you to delete your maiden name from your Facebook account. We one-last-name ladies are certainly in the minority. But I’m telling you, if my maiden name had been Moon, I would have never written this article.