Who Is Gabriella Russo by Gabriella Russo
http://whoisgabriellarusso.tumblr.com/

What does your name mean to you? It is the first things we say when introducing ourselves; something that has defined all of us since birth. However, our name isn’t exclusively ours. There can be hundreds of people around the world with your name, but you make it entirely your own. My name is Gabriella Russo, and I set out to find as many people as I could that share my name. I wanted to know what they are like, what they do, and how they have become their own unique “Gabriella Russo”. This spurred the idea to create a video documentary made by all of us. This project (filmed by several Gabriella Russo’s), titled Who is Gabriella Russo, was created to show how connected, yet different, people are all around the world.

The name Gabriella means God gives strength, and the last name Russo means red hair or complexion. But is this our identity; God gives strength to redheads? We put so much weight on our name, because it is what we grew up with and how we introduce ourselves. It is usually not individual to us, and it shouldn’t define us either. Finding your identity through your actions is much more important than basing it off of family history, and in this case, a name you were given. After contacting around 100 Gabriella Russo’s on Facebook, I had to take a step back. I would look through my news feed and inbox and see my name everywhere, but it was not really me. I think this assignment was important because it made me questions my differences, identity, and how I have developed into my own unique Gabriella Russo. This idea of identity really stuck with me throughout the project and I think that it is very present in the video. .

I started my mission off by contacting as many of us as I could on Facebook, which led me to a lot of questions and barriers when it came to internet trust, privacy and security. If someone’s privacy settings are high, it is next to impossible to get in contact with them on Facebook. Therefore, I had to friend almost 100 women and message them all in their respective languages. These messages were not even sent into their main inbox, so most of their responses were pure luck. I was also questioned by the women on my own intentions and humanity. The Internet has sadly blurred the lines of truth and trust in the past few decades, and it brought up a big question of: Can you trust a stranger, based solely on a commonality? .

These responses brought up the idea of the gift community and crowd Getting responses, let alone yes’s, for my project was very hard. Coordinating with different time zones, countries and languages was a big hurdle I was not prepared to cross. There also seemed to be a lot more trust and response from the younger generation on Facebook. These responses brought up the idea of the gift community and crowd sourcing. There was a huge level of reliance on the unknown, both for the women I was contacting and for myself. The women had no stake in this project; therefore it was not easy to convince them. In class, we talked about a lot of articles that had to do with the gift community, and I think there is definitely a parallel between this concept and my project. To be specific, once a gift or idea is realized (this project), it can be passed and communicated (getting women to participate) for group creation. Once they found value in this project, they were much more responsive and willing to help. A few of the women are also interested or work in the arts, so they understood this project from an artistic view. Unfortunately, many Gabriella Russos did not follow through with the project as promised. They found it difficult to take time out of their busy schedule to help with an assignment they had no stake in for someone they did not know. At some point it became nerve racking, as I realized this project was solely in the hands of these complete strangers. Many Gabriella Russos did not follow through with the project as promised however. It was hard to have them take time out of their busy schedule to help with an assignment they had no stake in for someone they do not know. Realistically, this project was all in the hands of women who were complete strangers to me.

Psychological research “found that people’s first and last names may have an impact on the jobs they end up in, thanks to a phenomenon called ‘implicit egotism.’”. (Brett Pelham, Attitudes and Social Cognition 2002) People inherently prefer things they associate to themselves. This hypothesis goes as far as becoming a lawyer because your name starts with an “L”. It was amazing creating this project and seeing the similarities that all of us named Gabriella Russo have. For example, one woman had a white Volkswagen with a dream catcher hanging from the rear view window, just like I have. There were also three of us interested or already working in the art world. I am even originally from a town that is not far away from the New Jersey woman. This just shows how interconnected and similar we can all be, even if we are thousands of miles apart. The internet is such a powerful and amazing tool for communication and I am happy it allowed me to realize how alike we all really are. I am so glad to have met these women and been able to hear their stories, and I hope that we all keep in touch.