Social media identity

It happened again recently.

On social media, someone wanted to make reference to me by name.  But, they didn’t get it right.  Instead, they used my social media identity instead.

Now, this doesn’t happen to people who use their full name as their identity online.  When I got into all this stuff, my username was actually given to me.  Can you remember ENOREO?  Educational Network of Ontario.

To get an ENOREO account, you had to register and they provided a username and login.  Typically, the username that they gave you was created by taking the first four letters of your first name and contatenate these with the first four letters of your last name.  Hence, I became dougpete.  It was my login and my email name and my identity.

Since then, it’s mostly stuck.  It’s kind of handy since there is only one dougpete when you do an internet search so I can always easily find myself.

But, it’s sometimes difficult for others to get it right.  I’ve been known as:

  • Mr. Pete
  • Doug Pete
  • dpete
  • Dough (that one really hurt)
  • Mr. Dougpete

It’s kind of interesting to see it happen when it does.  Even more interesting is that I can sometimes find it since it doesn’t easily turn up in a search.

My only regret was not realizing that I might want to have a Gmail account with that naming convention.  Someone else has it.



Hindsight is always 100%.

But social media identity can’t be ignored.  I still remember being in a room at an ECOO Conference where Rodd Lucier introduced me to the keynote speaker “courosa”.  I remember noting that I was introduced to the social media presence and not the actual person.

The only silver lining is that email seems to be dying (at least in my little world).  Social media has messaging features that make a separate email account less important.  Now, I mostly use it for digital subscriptions and collecting spam.

But it’s an interesting thing to ponder.  I think we do know which social media resources will have legs and be with us in the long run.  Should the advice be to get in and reserve your preferred name early and that way you have it when you really need/want it?

I’d be interested in your thoughts and experiences.



  1. What an interesting topic, Doug! It was actually Jared Bennett (@mrjarbenne) and Aaron Puley (@bloggucation) that introduced me to the topic of “social media identity.” It all happened when I decided to change my Twitter username from @grade1 to something else, since I was going to teach Grade 6. Jared suggested, “avivaloca” (which I love by the way), and they both made me think more about how I could carry this name into my other social media activities. This is how my blog became “Living Avivaloca,” and later why I decided to make my Instagram name, @avivaloca. I wish I learned this lesson a little earlier, and thought more about this, as I might consider “avivaloca” for more usernames, and made my blog address “” instead of “” I’m curious to know how many others have thought about their social media identity, and if the answers vary from the many tweeters that read this post vs. those that may primarily use other social media (e.g., Facebook).


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  2. I agree! It can be hard to remember people’s names and emails versus their social media handles. I find it harder with people whose two names are only different by a letter or two. On the other hand, it is easier if I primarily interact with the person only through email or only through social media. This spring we had some PD sessions with George Couros. I thought it was interesting when he shared that in TweetDeck he sets up columns for the various versions of his Twitter handle that people might use. Therefore he can see their comments even if they have his handle incorrect.

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  3. Doug, I can definitely relate. As you know, my blog is called “Monday Molly Musings” because “Molly” is often how my students spell a shortened version of my last name. Not only do I get called Molly instead of Diana, I was even referenced in a library “document” as Molly, and that’s by people who should know me!
    I’ve debated changing the title of my blog and Twitter to “Monday Mali Musings” or @MzMaliTL but I suspect I’d get confused with the African country and I don’t know if it will change anything. I guess it’s a compliment of sorts that my social media identity is the primary identity of me to some.

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  4. In the very early days of the WWW I used my initials (act2) and in fact that is still a good email address for me attached to my personal domain ( I really started with social media when I was at Microsoft is used my Microsoft alias (AlfredTh) formed from my first name and the first two letters of the last. There were other people named Alfred whose last name started with a T. When I first started trying to build a more personal brand on social media I used Alfredtwo which I continue to use today. I’m not sure why I didn’t go back to act2. Perhaps because it was so different from what people in general were/are using. At least “Two” is not mistaken for a last name. 🙂

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