Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's in a Name?

... quite possible your entire future!
Whatever happened to the simple and normal names people used to bestow upon their newborn child? The Matthews, Johns, Heathers and Sarahs seems to be of decades past, and the Bisons, Plutos, Starlites, and Saturns seems to have become the new trends. Unique? Sure... Normal? Not even close! I’ve noticed this growing trend of what some people call “unique” names... but I call it ludicrous (uh-oh, I may have just given someone an idea).

Edmonton’s Now 102.3 radio station discussed this just recently, and some of the names that people were calling or texting in (either their own names or names of people they knew) were beyond weird or crazy... in fact, some almost bordered on what could be deemed as abuse. I admit that some of the names brought forth may have been neat or cute for the first couple of years of a child’s life, but after that, I’m betting pure hell.
I’m all for free speech and freedom of choice, but maybe it’s time we follow some other countries’ ideas of actually banning certain names. In an article I came across on yahoo (Read it here), New Zealand is really cracking down on what can and cannot be approved as an appropriate baby’s name... mostly after heavy public criticism arose when the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages approved “Violence” and “Number 16 Bus Shelter” as appropriate names in 2008. Seriously? I don’t know what’s worse - the fact that the names were approved, or the fact that these names even came up in the first place. What is going through the heads of some of these parents? (For more lists on extreme baby names, Google “weird baby names” and you’ll get literally millions of pages).

Parents, for generations, have wanted something unique for their child’s name. They’ve wanted something to distinguish their child from the other children and for their child to be able stand out among an always increasing population. I guess, after hundreds of years though, the options are finally running a little thin, and people are now starting to turn to sources and ideas that are way out there; unfortunately, I don’t think these parents are thinking past the child’s first couple of ‘cute’ years.

What happens when the child enters the school system? Everyone knows (as it’s been for generations) that kids can be cruel, and there will always be an abundance of the ‘mean kids.’ The children with unique names will not fair well among their peers. The bullies seek out the weak or the different, and that unique name paints a very large and very bright target... bye-bye self-esteem.

So, the years go by, and the child manages to survive through childhood and adolescence. What’s going to happen when this “unique” child is grown up and tries to enter into the professional workforce? I would guess many résumés going out but not so many phone calls coming in. Honestly, do you think that companies are going to hire someone named Violence or Number 16 Bus Shelter? Probably not. A company has a reputation and public appearance it needs to maintain and protect. It will have nothing to do with your child’s qualifications. It will come down to what’s best for the company, in order to maintain the acceptance of it’s clients, and thus, protecting its profits.

So, yes, these parents are giving their child a name that will, in fact, set them apart from others. It’s just not going to be in a good way. They are setting up their children (and the world) for what will become a new concept in discrimination—Name Discrimination.

You want unique, that’s fine. You want different, that’s great. But please, keep it within the realm of normalcy and sanity—for the sake of your child’s future.

On that note, taking a common name and changing the spelling so dramatically that it is no longer distinguishable (i.e. adding a silent letter or letters randomly within the normal spelling) does not make it unique—it just creates a lifetime of always having it spelled wrong or having to spell it every single time you give it out to someone.

Please, think about the long and numerous paths your baby will eventually embark on when choosing a name for your precious child.

If you have one, leave your story in the comments. 

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