Fast forward 40 years in time, our country is in the worst financial pinch since the great recession of 2008, there is turmoil both domestic and foreign, and global conflict has led to a national sense of extreme pessimism. The country, hanging on by a thread eagerly awaits the presidential address. As the future of the our nation hangs in the balance, the leader of the free world steps up to the podium, and his name is Channing. He prepares his notes as his speechwriter named Wyatt looks on with anticipation hoping Channing reads his speech without a gaffe. Just as the President makes his way to the lectern his press secretary Jayden is updating the Presidents twitter. Channing, Wyatt, and Jayden. This is not the stuff of fiction, this will eventually be a reality, as starkly depressing as that is, a guy named Channing will most likely hold the fate of the world in his hands.
When did this all go so horribly wrong? I am talking of course about names. It is no secret that naming trends from coast to coast have taken a decidedly frightening turn. When did we decide that this was a good idea? Everyone is trying so hard to be different it is ironically one of the only unifying factors we have left. Every single day in our formative childhood years we were told we were different, special, and unique. Now that we are grown up and realize we have to work for those titles instead of just being handed them, we are pissed. Our generation is to the world what Dane Cook is to comedy. We try so desperately to make an impact and be controversial, it just comes across as pathetic. Unlike our ancestors who had Great Wars to fight and Civil Rights to gain, our generation has nothing to hang our hats on, so inevitably we all try to make an impression the only way we know how; by naming our kids Milo. We now have baby naming classes, books, and Internet tools to tell us what the optimal name of our child should be. We have become so disassociated and ungrounded that people are actually paying money in a desperate attempt to individualize and differentiate themselves and their children. It has been decided that being on the cutting edge is now much more important than being grounded in reality.
Why is something like a name so important? Why am I getting my jimmies in a knot over this? A name is the most easily identifiable part of any human being; it is part of our essence and family. It shows where we have come from and where we are going. With the new wave of names that lack any sort of profundity or thought we have hopped on a new bandwagon, and that is one of mediocrity and shallowness. The name itself is not so much an issue, but the catalyst that has allowed such names to exist is an indictment on our society as a whole. For instance take the name Sean, seemingly innocuous and respected in its own right, but we have managed to squeeze the pulp out of the name until it simply has nothing left to offer. Now Chone and Shawn and Shaun and Shean, and Shawwn reign supreme, suffocating a once proud name. It isn’t even enough to be obnoxiously mediocre; these variations are now dragging down what used to be proud names.
My name is Philip, not Filip, not Philipp, not Phillippe, just Philip. It’s not flashy, not sheik, and certainly not modern. My name however is important to my family. It was my grandfather’s name, and his father’s name as well, it is a name that has stood the test of time, and something rich with tradition. My older brother was already given the namesake of our father, so I was given the title of my grandfather as he was only given girls. Things now lack a certain depth; everything kind of has a film of apathy glazed over it, because caring too much about your history has somehow gone out of vogue. Now we have names that have forsaken tradition and kinship in some misguided attempt at being unique. (And for the record I have seen people named Unique, Unike, Younique, Unicc, and Uniq).
If you think that this is just an irrational rant or fail to see the gravity of the situation, I invite you to take a look at the most common boy name in 2012. It was Finn. Why don’t you just let that one sink in for a moment? There is an epidemic in this country; one that makes avian bird-flu and SARS (those are both diseases, right?) pale in comparison. That epidemic is of the angst ridden suburban middle class family naming their kids after members of the Backstreet Boys. One day, when my boss is named Asher, and my girlfriend (if I ever get one) is named Harper, that is when I will finally know I have hit the 7th layer of Hell. How can I feel secure at a restaurant knowing my food was cooked by Jasper? And you would be out of your mind if you think I am ever letting Bodhi handle my money as a financial advisor. “Sorry Phil, you’re being passed over for the promotion because… I mean… have you seen the new pictures Micah just instagrammed?” This is my nightmare.
As I sit here, there is a child being named Levi as we speak. I don’t know why I have such an issue with this to be quite honest, but there is something that resonates within me, something that just tells me this is all just terribly wrong. In 100 years historians will look back on this period of time like we look back on Vanilla Ice or Parachute pants, just a horrible mistake in human history.