Why is Facebook asking me how to pronounce my name?

Shamira

Facebook has decided my name is weird and hard and I have to prevent awkward situations by teaching my “Friends” how to say it.

Image by Edowoo, via Flickr CC.

I love meeting people. When it comes time to say my name, I pronounce it slower and louder than my normal speech, with a punch of pride to sweeten the moment. Sometimes, people repeat it back for me, with a touch of anxiety because they know they’ll forget it a moment later. That’s always okay. I’ll once again say this lovely moniker (pronounced: Sha-mee-rah) with as much enthusiasm as I had the first.

This is why Facebook’s new name game perplexes me. I mean, I get it. The millennials who run the site want to be as politically correct as they can. Avert a crisis before there can be one, I imagine them imagining, and let’s teach ourselves to be as worldly and ready as possible when confronting people with weird names. But that doesn’t work. Because you still may not get it right. You won’t hear the twang in my voice, and you won’t hear the inflection I love so much. And best of all, you won’t learn that when it comes to names, it’s ok to be wrong.

But this is weird.

I’m not teaching a computer, and new Facebook friends, how to say my name by spelling it out phonetically. I couldn’t if I tried. But in the aim of being politically correct, Facebook has of course underscored that my name is weird and hard and it’s up to me to prevent awkward situations by teaching my “Friends” on how to say it right. And I’m not going to do that. But if you do want to learn how I like to be called, we can always just do an old-fashioned introduction.

Further Reading

The politics of elegance

German historian Daniel Tödt wrote a history of the Congolese évolués. In this interview, he talks about the historiographical interventions of his book and the role of Patrice Lumumba in the history of évolués.

Bring Patrice Lumumba home

The return of Patrice Lumumba’s remains must not be an occasion for Belgium to congratulate itself, but for a full accounting of the colonial violence that led to the assassination and coverup.

Back from Safari

If you hadn’t noticed, we were on our annual break from just before Christmas 2021 until now. We are back, including with some inspiration.