Digital Doubles: Sparring Over Screen Names


Nick Jonas has a bone to pick with Nick Jonas.

More than a thousand friend requests beg for his attention on Facebook. An endless stream of unwanted messages leap at him whenever he goes online. The social networking giant even suspended his account for two weeks.

All because the recent college grad happens to share a name with the pop star du jour: Nick Jonas of the boy band The Jonas Brothers.

"I don't know where in Nick Jonas' career this happened," the 23-year-old non-singing Jonas said. But now, "it's like the story of my life."

In addition to the onslaught of e-mail and friend requests, he said that for about the past two years he's been pummeled by phone calls from adoring adolescent girls hoping he's the 16-year-old celebrity. He's even had to cancel phone lines -- numerous times.

"At one point my mom came home completely shocked to see 22 messages on her phone," he said.

In March, he went online one day to learn that Facebook had totally disabled his account because it thought it was a fake attempting to impersonate Jonas the entertainer.

"I was pretty heated about it," he said. "All of my pictures were on it, all of my connections."

But after about two weeks and four e-mails, Jonas said the social networking site responded and re-activated the account.

Digital Doppelgangers Meet Face-to-Face

In early 2008, he said he was offered a rare chance to meet his digital doppleganger and took it.

A friend was a waitress at the Roxy theater in Hollywood, Calif., and snuck him past the velvent ropes into the VIP room.

After he'd summoned enough courage (helped just a bit by the open bar), Jonas the computer science major walked up to Jonas the star and said, tongue in cheek, "Listen dude, we have the same name and it's ruined my life."

He showed the teen Nick Jonas his ID, and the digital doubles shared a real-life laugh.

As social networking continues to boom and the virtual world continues to shrink, people are becoming more and more aware of others who share their names.

But even if you don't share a name with a teen pop sensation, sharing a name with anyone can lead to chaos and comedy online.

Same Names Can Be Confusing in Personal and Professional Lives

"It becomes an issue," said Adam Ostrow, editor of the social media blog Mashable. "If you have a name that's duplicated at all and someone else grabs those names in social media it could definitely create confusion."

When David Elias, 42, set up a Web site for his photography business a few years ago, it never crossed his mind that his Web address of choice might be taken.

"To my horror there was another David Elias in New York state who also did weddings," said the Schuylerville, N.Y., photographer.

Not only did the two have a name in common, they also shared a job, an ethnic background and an age (give or take a few years).

"It was close enough that there would be potential confusion," Elias said.

So he dropped his online twin a note and uncovered even more parallels.

"We were shadowing each other in Manhattan for years, I think," Elias said, adding that the two unknowingly traveled in similar social circles and might have belonged to the same gym.

Although the two don't correspond regularly, Elias said they both are amused by their predicament and even write from time to time.

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