What's In A Name?

A tweet from Paula scrolled past the other day.  She said, "That thing after you've finished having children when you realise you've got fave names left over..." This got me thinking - choosing a name for a child is a huge responsibility.  But that is only just the beginning...

Certain areas of our identity are structured through biological make-up and parentage, for example, race, ethnicity and gender, but the way in which we act can be used to control how we see ourselves and how others see us.  Freud argued that our identity is formed and shaped in the subconscious using childhood experiences and our natural need to be pleasured and sated.  Adapting these through the development of personality and desire is a way to control our identity as an adult.

Society, in any form, is established by its structure and interaction and the translation of rules and regulations.  We have to develop our identity and establish the presentation of ourselves to others.  It doesn't matter what anyone says - we are always judged upon first appearances.  That may be by how we sound on the telephone, how we look when we first meet someone, by our name on a letter or, even more recently, our username online.  Using online society as an example, shows that we identify with different social groups and use multiple identities for personal advantage.

We mirror other people both in real life and online to create an identity that fits into a specific situation.  We used to be able to rely on expressions, gestures and oral communication to help with recognition but, with a computer screen between us and the rest of the world, we have to rely on the way in which fellow users portray themselves, and vice versa.

Creating an identity means that we have to redefine and reconstruct our own vision of ourself to be accepted both as a group member and an individual.  When I chose my children's names I was very careful not to give them names that could potentially be considered unusual or bucked a trend but did that mean I was taking away their identity by 'normalising' them?

Wealth and social class can be very influential in the structure of identity as they can bring security, power and control to a social situation.  Or it can be eradicated by the same.  We now live in a world where national identity is a key part of society and rights of citizenship are challenged in cultures across the world.

We all know that Katie Hopkins has recently rocked the boat with her very narrow-minded attitude towards names given to children (although that was just the tip of the iceberg) and I remember an article on Parentdish which was written in a similar vein.  Look closely and you'll see I'm quoted in that article - my viewpoint might surprise you but think back to what I have just said about first impressions - my prejudice doesn't necessarily continue afterwards.

Who didn't giggle when they worked out that Kim Kardashian's baby's full name would be "North West"?
Who wasn't really surprised that William and Kate gave their son a regal name?
We also have "Cricket" (Busy Phillips), "Rex" (Fearne Cotton), "Jett" (Katie Price), "Maxwell" (traditionally a male name but gifted to her daughter by Jessica Simpson)... and the list goes on.

Prompted by a tweet from Lynn where she asked her daughter who in her class has the coolest name and she answered "me" (it is pretty cool but she shortens it on her blog) I had a think about my own name.  I hated my name for a long time.  My first name is very 1970's and my maiden name is German.  I changed my first name at a defining point in my life and there is a very distinct divide of people who call me by one name or the other.  With regards to my surname I now know that I should have embraced it and learnt to love it as it really did make me stand out from the crowd.

I asked my Twitter followers if they were happy with their own name and the majority of them aren't which really surprised me.  Does this mean that no matter what name we give our children (or that our parents gave us) they're not going to be happy with it?  Is this all about forming our own identity rather than someone choosing it for us?

Maybe our identity is determined by association and how we actively present this?  I mentioned in my recent talk at Preston Geek Up that I conduct my online activity in my own name because I want to be responsible for what I put out there but this also means that anyone can type my name into any search engine and find out quite a lot of information about me.  If I had used my maiden name or a pseudonym then maybe I could have kept an air of mystery about me.

What do you think?