Over a year ago I started my Twitter journey and at that time the whole world of PLN’s, digital footprints, and digital collaboration was very new to me. I really didn’t know what to expect or where this adventure would take me. When I created my Twitter account I chose a username that spoke to who I was as a professional (teacher) and where I am located (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan). For over a year I had been know on Twitter as Saskateach and this is the name I became known as to all of my new Twitter friends. Saskateach became who I was in that virtual world and I was quite happy with that. Kind of like a secret identity…Jennifer in reality, Saskateach virtually.
Then I went to the International Society for Technology in Education Conference at the end of June and my virtual world collided with my actual world. For the first time I was able to meet people who were a part of my PLN in a face to face situation. I was so excited to meet everyone and wasn’t shy about going up to people I knew and saying “Hi, I’m Jennifer Brokofsky”. Often people I had talked to so often in Twitterland looked at me with confused looks as they tried to figure out who is Jennifer Brokofsky and why is she standing here expecting me to know who she is??? It wasn’t until I said “Saskateach on Twitter” that the lightbulbs came on and I was greeted with recognition and friendship. At first I didn’t mind having to connect my virtual and real personas for people but after a while I began to wonder if the apparent disconnect between my virtual world and my real world was what I wanted.
If twitter is really all about making connections with people did I want those connections to be with virtual Saskateach or real Jennifer Brokofsky?
I came home from ISTE with much to think about and solicited advice from PLN about Twitter names and if I should change mine. Let me tell you there was no shortage of opinions. Some people liked the virtual name and the way it spoke to who I was as a professional. Most felt that the real name was the way to go provided it is not to long. Unfortunately, by birth and by marriage my real name is long. Jennifer Brokofsky is 17 characters long and short of legally changing it, is the name I have. I debated about shorten versions of my name JBrokofsky (taken), brokofskyj, jennbrok, jbrokof…but none felt right. I was beginning to understand that this was about my identity and wanting to share who I am with the world so any version that I didn’t have a connection to just would not work. All of the shortened versions were really not my name anymore than Saskateach was my name. My thinking was that if I wasn’t going to use my real name then I might as well stick with my virtual Saskateach persona.
After much internal debate I decided that what I really want is for my Twitter friendships and relationships to be with ME!!! Jennifer, and that I want my virtual world to be an extension of my real world… not separate. To do this I need to change the name to my name…who I am known by in my real world. The decision was made to use the Twitter name of @JennBrokofsky. Brokofsky because it is my last name and Jenn because that it the name all of my friends and family have called me for as long as I can remember…and Twitter is all about making friends and building relationships. I know it is a bit long and the last name hard to spell…I apologize for that but it is who I am and I won’t apologize for that.
Decision made I feel like I have closed one chapter of my continuing digital adventure but have opened another. It is my hope that this chapter will be about the melding of two worlds, the deepening of connections, and just being me!