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If Hokusai was LinkedIn verified, it would be under a different name.

If your professional name is different to your real name, it can be difficult to get LinkedIn verified. Our Senior Content Writer, Mike Tuckerman, explains why.

“You’re not LinkedIn verified,” I vaguely recall some sort of prompt reminding me on this very platform a few months ago.

Well… yeah.

There’s an obvious reason for this. It’s not the one relating to the equally obvious question of why I’d willingly hand over sensitive personal data to a third-party I can’t even verify myself.

It’s because my real name and the name I’ve used professionally for more than two decades aren’t the same.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Bruno Mars (real name: Peter Gene Hernandez).

I’m just a guy who uses the short-form version of the name that was given to me by my parents.

Why shouldn’t I? That’s what everyone has called me for years.

But there’s another, more invidious reason the persistent requests to get LinkedIn verified bother me.

It’s because it’s an automated demand to label yourself what some government document says you are – not who you picture yourself to be.

No ‘LinkedIn Verified’ in Sydney Punk’s Scene

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I attended countless shows in Sydney’s booming punk music scene.

I never thought there was anything out of the ordinary about doing so.

I like punk music, and the bigger shows attracted hundreds of fans to venues that have long since disappeared.

But now that I look back, there were some signs things were a bit unusual.

Starting with the fact you almost never knew anyone’s real name. One of the funniest things about the punk scene is that almost everyone has a punk name.

Many musicians are named after their band, but if you’re like me and don’t possess an ounce of musical talent, you’re pretty much free to call yourself anything you like.

I went with Tuck – it felt like the path of least resistance – and when I published a short-lived zine, I was vain enough to name it after a repurposed Anti-Flag song… Drink, Drank, Tuck.

I put a few issues out with a friend of mine who was universally known as LukeTheSame.

These things felt important at the time, but really they were just youthful expressions of young people trying to figure out who they were.

Only I never had anyone at a show stop and ask me why my punk name didn’t match the one on my birth certificate.

A Wave by Any Other Name…

Do you know what the most famous piece of Japanese art is?

The Great Wave by Hokusai.

Except it wasn’t actually called The Great Wave. And the artist’s name was literally Iitsu.

Hokusai – that’s what history remembers him as – was an interesting character.

An itinerant woodblock print artist who reportedly moved house more than 90 times because he could never be bothered cleaning, Hokusai will forever be known as the creator of the most iconic image in Japanese art history.

But he was actually called Iitsu at the time – a play on words that essentially means “one year old,” which was how Hokusai viewed that stage of his career – even though his childhood name was Tokitaro and his given name, Katsushika, simply refers to the part of Edo (now Tokyo) he was born in.

So is his art any less powerful because Hokusai was known by at least 30 different names throughout his career?

Or does the artistry of The Great Wave – which is actually known as Under The Wave Off Kanagawa in Japanese – speak for itself?

You Can’t Verify Creativity

Here’s why I’ll probably never bother to get LinkedIn verified: because it reduces who you are and what you’ve done to a piece of paper you had no say in creating.

I’d much rather let my lived experiences and the things I’ve actually done – attended punk shows, enjoyed Japanese art, thought deeply about the meaning of things – speak for me.

Because in the rush to automate everything, we’re stamping out creativity.

Verification might be a necessity for employees who work in sensitive fields, but it shouldn’t be for any writer who wants to say something interesting.

I’d rather be a good writer with a nebulous name than a LinkedIn verified user with nothing insightful to say.

Maybe that doesn’t mean much in a world where many think ChatGPT can do a better job of writing than we ourselves can.

But it means something to me.

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