In defense of boring names

Ali Gammeter
Insights Newsletter
31 January, 2020

“Yes, we are all individuals,” the crowd unanimously shouted in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Which made a mockery of professed individuality.

In today’s society we are trying harder than ever to be unique. We create hyper-differentialised types of diets, fashion, subculture and ways to spell the name Ashley. But this quest to uniqueness might catastrophically overlook a terrible plight - unique names.

At least an article in Stuff suggested that this week. It revealed the grievances of people with unique names. These poor souls wish nothing more than to be, well, boring.

“I have a unique name and I hate it with my entire being”, says Ethereal. Understandable.

There is something to be said in favour of boring names. While a name like “Karen” has Peugeot-driving soccer mum connotations, it is better than being named “Philomena”.  So here I stand in staunch defence of boring names.

In 1948, two Harvard professors published a study which discovered that a unique name has adverse effects on the psychology of its bearer. Research has also claimed that names could affect job interview call-backs, grades, and what other people think of you. So, if your name is “Berrien”, don’t worry - your underachievement or lack of friends could just result from your weird name.

I would also speculate that politicians with boring names are exponentially more electable than those with unique names. No elected National prime minister has ever had a name longer than two syllables. Every Prime Minister before Jacinda Ardern had a boring name. Sir John Key’s parents were onto something.

There was once a well-known band called “Peter, Paul and Mary”. I cannot imagine their success if they were instead called “Kashton, Paisleigh and Asparagus”.

Some will remember when Michael Jackson named his son Prince Michael II, aka “Blanket”, or when Nicolas Cage named his child “Kal-El” (yes, as in super-man).

People with weird names end up more ostracised and less successful than their boring-named rivals. So, if you’re planning on having a child this year, for goodness’ sake just name it Mike or something.

Sadly, this well-meaning advice comes too late for Sirjames, Tu Morrow, Facebook, Pilot Inspektor, Moon Unit and Chardonnay – all born and named over the past few years.

At least Chardonnay and the others can change their names once they have matured.

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