2008 was a bit of a rough year for yours truly, with many trials and the stress of trying to figure out what would happen after finishing college. Of course, in the life of someone who isn’t even 21 years old, stubbing a toe could qualify for “Worst Day Ever” status.
But I knew things had hit rock bottom when social media banned me.
It’s still hard to talk about. Years have passed, but the pain is still there. There were months without any contact with other people (besides actual, real life contact with other people), and nobody should have to go through that.
But it’s about time that the story is told.
Years ago, before any newsfeeds or timelines, Facebook was simpler. Because of this, Facebook was also slightly stricter about things. Keep in mind, this was a social network that was initially built for one single school. It spread across the country, revolutionizing how students kept up with each other. All the while, you still had to have a .edu email address to register. It took years before Facebook was fully open to the public.
So next time you complain about Facebook constantly changing, think about it this way: Society is changing. Facebook is just playing along.
Anyways, because everything I do ultimately is just to entertain myself, I tried to have as much fun with Facebook as possible. Constantly changing profile pictures. Setting my political and religious views to “AWESOME”. Saying I was “in a relationship” with my roommate’s dog.
But the most notable gag (besides the “dating a dog” thing)? Having fun with my name.
The Joseph Craven existed on Facebook for quite a while, which was interesting because whenever I did stuff, it said “The Joseph says….” and for some reason that was humorous. But eventually, even the thrill of being “The Joseph” faded, and it was time to change.
Thus, I grabbed a nickname from high school and promptly changed my profile to Joseph Jackhammer Craven.
The Jackhammer enjoyed a lengthy amount of time surfing around Facebook with no complications at all. It was delightful! Then, one day, everything changed.
I tried to log on to my account and was met with a big fat rejection. I tried a few more times, thinking maybe I had messed up my password. Nothing worked, and at that point I realized that I was not being greeted with the typical “You entered the wrong password” message. Nay, I was being greeted with this:
“Your account has been banned by an administrator. Please contact Facebook Support for more information.”
Always being one to play by the rules, I sent a nice, courteous email asking what was wrong. I waited for roughly a month (and by waiting, I mean I sent about 500 more emails) before a reply came. The explanation? I was banned for using a fake name.
The fact that my name wasn’t totally fake notwithstanding, please keep in mind that Facebook had actually APPROVED the name change months previous to this. I submitted a name change, they looked at it, thought “Yeah, that’s probably his middle name”, and then approved it. And now, NOW, nearly a full year later, they decided they had a problem with it? It didn’t make sense.
Suddenly, it hit me: somebody had reported me.
I am not saying that I’m Gandhi, but I don’t necessarily make too many enemies. Actually, at the time, there were a lot of people who didn’t like Gandhi, because of the whole “protesting” thing, so that’s a bad comparison to begin with.
But the point stands: somebody that I knew was surfing around the Book of Faces one day, saw my profile, and said “Hey, his middle name isn’t Jackhammer! HE MUST BE PUNISHED FOR THESE LIES!” and reported me to administrators.
I am pleased to say that after months of trying to work with programmers who needed to be convinced that besides the “Jackhammer” my name was legit, I was finally back on Facebook. It was a struggle, but I was able to get back just in time to save all of my friendships that were about to pass away like in The Sims when you never leave the house. Because, of course, I never left the house during this time.
So I am Joseph Craven. Not The. Not the Jackhammer. Just plain old Joseph Craven. If it means I have to be plain and boring in order to keep up with all of the friends I have who have moved away, then sure. I’ll gladly do it.
However, sometimes I’ll wander into the settings and look at the “Change Name” option with a longing for days when I wouldn’t be instantly rejected.
I guess when you have a nickname that is just too awesome for social media to handle, this is what happens.
(Note: When Facebook gave the option to get a username, I quickly jumped on The Jackhammer. So technically, it’s still there. If you go to Facebook.com/TheJackhammer, you find me. So maybe I DID get the last laugh.)