Just about everyone with whom I directly work has some sort of affectionate nickname. Mine is KLH, because, as you can see if you look at virtually any of my social media profiles or my staff profile, I am never without my middle initial.
I hadn’t given much thought to my inclusion of the L (which stands for Lynn, by the way), until I read Nicholas Kristof’s column in The New York Times yesterday. Even though I suspect that the actual (subconscious?) aim of the piece was to remind people that he had attended Harvard and worked for the Times for eons, the “official” point of it was to explain why Kristof was dropping his middle initial (which is a D) from his byline. His argument was that the middle initial conveyed needless formality and prevents writers from forming connections with their audiences.
So am I, a firm middle-initial user, pushing formality in my Web-based communications? Do I come off as stuffy, archaic and disconnected?
Here’s the thing: I share my first and last name with a type of (awful, apparently) brake pad. Yes. Brake pads. I had known this for a while and had brushed it off. Attempts to purchase the kelseyhayes.com domain were futile, so I went with kelseylhayes.com and have had my portfolio and personal site at that domain for almost two-and-a-half years. It came up again during my hiring process; the editor joked about Googling me and seeing those damn brake pads pop up. While I seem to be the fourth-highest hit in that search, I occupy almost the entire first page if you look up my first name with the initial included.
Some of us, it turns out, need that pesky middle initial for the sake of basic SEO. You’ll excuse my formality then, thanks!