I’m nearing an important milestone, according to Facebook. The site has alerted me to the fact that I’m only a few people away from hitting 500 “likes” on my author page. Ordinarily, I’d let myself get a little excited about such a moment. But I’m not, because a third of the people who “like” me don’t know who I am. I’m not talking about how they “don’t really know who I am as a person.” I mean that almost 200 of my “likes” mistook me for a Bollywood actress in India who happens to be my namesake.
When I first noticed a bunch of men from the subcontinent liked my page, I was pleased with the global reach of social media and impressed by their enthusiasm for multicultural children’s literature. But once Amit, Prakash and Raj sent me flirty notes, I started to get suspicious and investigate. I quickly discovered the other Hina Khan but wondered if so many people could actually be confusing me with this celebrity who doesn’t even spell her name the same way.
Then I got another note, this time not through Facebook, but through my website. It read, “Hi. I’m your biggest fan. Ur soooo pretty.” Since it came from a girl named Marya, I thought, “Oh, how cute. A little fan. Maybe she read Night of the Moon.” But then Marya proceeded to reply to my website’s automated response saying that I would get back to her soon with:
“Omg is this u
I can't believe I'm talking to a tv actor in real life
By the way my name is Marya
I'm from the uk
And I love watching ur show (yeh rishta kya kehlata hai)
Ur soo pretty and beautiful
I would just like to say in your shows dress more jazzy and in heavy saris”
At that moment, through my embarrassed laughter, I realized that there was no denying it. A good percentage of my Facebook fans are either accidental, or just "like" anyone named Hena Khan. Ever since, a steady stream of Abdurehmans, Guris, and Rajs continue to “like” me. I try not to feel disappointed by them, but I do get happiest when I scan my list of new “likes” and find people who are 1) female 2) have children and 3) actually “like” me for me (again, in the Facebook universe, of course, not those who “actually like me as a person”).
So what do I do next? Do I start posting things about children’s books on the actress’s homepage? Do I audition for an Indian drama and dress in jazzy and heavy saris? Or do I just embrace this false number of fans and celebrate my milestone?