My Real Name

My real name is Brand.

When I was born, no one knew that. Even I was not aware. The words on the government paper read “Brandon” and that was enough for us all. The word identified me, but did not define me. That was enough, for a child.

However, as I outgrew my name, it began to show wear. It was a formal name, and I was not a formal person. I was rambuctious, garrulous, quick to action and willing to laugh at myself in the attempt to commune with friends. And so those friends gave me a new name, Brand.

The new name fit better, it not only identified me, it defined me. It was intimate and casual, while still asserting my individual attitude. It had the inferance of business, a buzzword that referred to a unique and valuable idea worth defending.

It’s not an easy name for many people, because it is so closely tied to my birthname. When I shake hands with someone and say, “Brand Gamblin, nice to meet you,” they invariably frown and blink at the name.

Many will try to correct it in their minds, “Did you say ‘Brian’?”

But I’ve seen that reaction so many times, I’ve turned it into a joke, “No, Brand. Like what you do to a cow.”

More blinking. (Honestly, this is one of my ways of feeling out new people. The smartest, geekiest people will comprehend quicker)

I don’t mind that my name is uncommon. It is a Brand, and I want to tell people about it.

My friends, my co-workers, the guy at Pizza Hut, they all know me as Brand.

It is my real name.

If I had to sign in online as “Brandon” it would feel wrong. Disingenuous. Officious. It would turn social media into the DMV.

And as uncomfortable as it would feel to me, I’m one of the lucky ones.

There are those who would be hunted if they used their “real” name online. There are some who would be taunted, tracked, and terrorized by the people around them if their psuedonym were revealed. Some would be stalked merely because their name was feminine. For them, social media wouldn’t become the DMV. For them, it would become a nightmare, forcing them to hide in the corners of the internet.

And some of the people I most respect would be encouraging it, saying, “If you don’t have anything to hide, you wouldn’t mind saying it out loud.” They would be branding me and all those like me as perverts, conspirators, frauds, and terrorists. They would paint us with a broad brush, making every pseudonym into a crime.

This is not a problem with names. This is not a problem with Google. This is not a problem with the Internet. This is a problem with people, and it needs to be discussed. Only education can fix this.

Remember, a name is only the psuddonym that you have used more than all the others. A name is still a nym.

For more than half of my life, I have used a name that was not on my drivers license. How can you say that one name is “real” and the other isn’t?

My real name is Brand. I can’t prove it with government papers, but you know it to be true.

I’d like to remind you that I am a professional fiction writer, and each post I write takes time away from my fiction writing.  So please, if you’re getting something out of the blog, help fund my blogging habit.  Thanks so much.

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  1. Thank you, Brand. It’s easy to forget there’s a difference between anonymity and criminality. People need freedom to make (honest) mistakes, wade into places with opinions not yet fully formed, and surf free from harassment or reprisal.

    This is the equivalent of stopping someone on the street and demanding their papers. I don’t think it grandiose to cite Martin Niemoller: “I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t X… Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.”