I guess I shouldda seen it coming. Over the past few weeks, many of my Facebook friends within the metal community were switching from their stage names to actual last names. Not necessarily their actual last names, mind you–without naming anyone, I know a few folks who’ve been using someone else’s. But for me, when the axe came down, I thought I’d be clever and change my name to Grégoire Grousomme. And hey, it worked…for about 3 days.
But on Monday, I was presented with an ultimatum: Send us your government-issued ID or never see your Facebook friends again. What I find particularly annoying was the way it was worded: “It looks like the name on your Facebook account may not be your authentic name. We ask everyone to use the name they go by in real life so friends know who they’re connecting with.” Beneath a link to a page listing what names aren’t allowed, it continues: “If this is the name you use in your everyday life, we would like to work with you to verify the name that best represents your identity. We accept a number of documents to allow you to verify your everyday name.”
And herein lies the rub: Gruesome Greg is the name I use in my everyday life, or at least one aspect of it. You won’t find it on any government-issued ID–mind you, I did get it inked on my left bicep several years back–but I guarantee that 99.9% of my Facebook friends would call me Gruesome before using the first name on my driver’s license (hint: it’s not what you think). Only a select few of my Facebook friends even know my actual last name, nevermind my legal first name–although, for the record, I do go by Greg.
Cuz here’s the thing, I don’t use Facebook to reconnect with lost friends from high school. Truth be told, I didn’t have many friends in high school…how do you think I got into metal in the first place!? My Facebook account is an extension of an identity I’ve used in the metal scene ever since I moved to Toronto 10 years ago–and not just online, either. I DJed on CKLN for 5+ years as Gruesome Greg before the CRTC took my baby away, and whenever I’ve gone up on stage, whether as a musician, a comedian, or just to introduce the next band, it’s been as Gruesome Greg. Hell, I’ve written for Hellbound for roughly six years, and I don’t think anyone around here knows my government-issued-ID name. (And in the age of the digital promo, nobody really needs to.)
The bottom line is that, even if I didn’t have a problem with giving Facebook a copy of my identification–and believe me, I do–none of my Facebook friends would be able to find me under my real name. (The tattoo pic might give it away, I suppose.) And I wouldn’t be the only person who chooses to use a name in real life that’s not on their birth certificate, either. Back in October, a group of drag queens launched a protest that prompted an official stance-softening from Facebook’s VP of Product Chris Cox. In the fourth paragraph of a lengthier blog post, Cox wrote:
“Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess.”
Well, for Gruesome Greg, that’s Gruesome Greg. But even when I try to fill out the disabled account appeal form–which is, after all, the only way I can find to contact Facebook directly–they still ask me to upload my ID. And even when I try to provide them with a picture, they tell me “It looks like you forgot something or entered something incorrectly. Please make sure you’ve included all of the required info.” Well hey, I’m giving them the actual email address, name and birthday that were on the account when it was deleted…so the only thing I could be doing wrong is trying to send them a picture of my tattoo instead of my birth certificate.
Now, I don’t wanna turn this into an LGBT issue, even though my Facebook profile says I like men. I just think that heavy-metal musicians, DJs, writers and what-have-you ought to be able to use their stage names on Facebook, as long as that’s the name they’re most commonly identified by. I mean, would you accept a friend request from a 60-year-old Danish guy named Kim Petersen* if he wasn’t wearing corpse paint in his profile photo!?
Anyways, since Facebook won’t even let me fill out the fucking form, I don’t think there’s any way for me to get my account back. So I guess I’m just kickin’ it old school now–shoot me an email or something.
*This is what Kim looks like with corpse paint, in case you were wondering.