Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Do We Owe Our Children Distinctive Names?

So I was trying to find my old colleague Dave Snyder on Facebook and I couldn't do it. Earlier, I had tried to find Michael Davidson, a guy featured in my book. Couldn't do that either. I'm sure they were out there somewhere, but did I really want to wade through dozens, maybe hundreds, of profiles to get to them? No way.

Out of curiosity, I searched on "Charlie Moe" and "Kate Moe" and found several of each but no more than a page or two. If my kids were older and had profiles, one could probably suss them out. But then, that's based on today's Facebook user base, a base that's growing rapidly. When my kids are old enough to engage in online social connectivity, search functions will be more dynamic on whatever Facebook heir is being used but will it keep pace with the incrementally more Charlie and Kate Moes online?

Then there's finding people on Google. Sometimes creepy, sure, not everyone wants to be found. But in general, it's good to be available. That's why phone books are published. You want security and selective anonymity but you want people- friends, employers, contacts- to be able to reach you. And beyond that, humans want to be unique and viewed as such. I want to be me more than I want to be part of a subset of name sharers.

So I wonder if new parents are in some way charged with providing a distinctive name for their baby. Is it irresponsible for the Thompsons to name their son Jacob given the world he's going to be living in? If there are no computers and they live in a small town, everyone in that town will know young Jacob Thompson. But we don't live in that world, we live in a world where I know that people in Kenya and the Ivory Coast are reading this blog.

To help their child make his way in the contemporary and future world, should the Thompsons name their kid Blizzard Supertramp Chewbacca Thompson? Or maybe something a little better than that? But not just Jacob?


Scott Chicken said...

That's why we chose the names we chose. Because we knew that when someone googled Logan they'd find a gay porn star.

Wait...when was Google started? Maybe back then they'd have to have Yahoo'd. Same difference.

Man, now that I'm on the Links section I'm going to have to actually start writing something in the ol' blog...

Kate said...

Or choose the most common name to hopefully make stalkers work harder? I don't have children of my own, but many of my friends have elaborate nicknames for their kids on their blogs for security reasons.

My name is ridiculously common. Googling my name brings up nothing about me. Maybe I should actually get off my duff and do something noteworthy. Nah.

Kris McN said...

See, that's exactly why when we got married my husband and I took a whole new, made-up last name. Not his, not mine, not a hyphen, totally new. My complaint was that we (as humans) used to make new names all the time (son of Lars = Larson, whatever), but not anymore. So, we took part of one of his family names, part of one of mine, and mashed them together. Now when you google our last name, you'll get either me, my husband, or my son, that's it because no one else on the planet has our last name. That way, we didn't have to get too weird with our kids' first names to make them distinct.

john said...

I guess that's another option. I've wondered why there are no modern vocational surnames. We have Cooper and Wright and Baker. But you never meet Kevin Systems Analyst or Denise Web Developer.

Kris McN said...

Yeah, but that only works in the bygone days when you learned a trade and stuck with it. In today's world of multiple, midlife, career changes, you'd just get stuck in hyphenation hell; Kevin Web Designer-Hemp Farmer-City Councilman?? Or would you just change your name every time you changed careers?

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