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Alter quotes Bruce Lansky, author of eight books on baby names: “People who understand branding know that when you pick the right name, you’re giving your child a head start.” And here I thought it was good parenting and maybe some education thrown in.
Lansky’s statement, like those of some of the parents, demonstrates the penetration of corporate culture and marketing into every nook of personal life. Job seekers on the web routinely come across articles on how to “brand” themselves for the marketplace, but apparently for some, that process can’t start soon enough. We should brand babies, too. It makes me wonder if corporate names for babies aren’t far off — after all, we name our ballparks that way already. Companies could buy naming rights to children, and in a decade or so we could all read about “top corporate baby names.” The only drawback is that this would hurt the name consultants — the boot of big business, crushing the little guy again!
When consumerism is unchecked by other priorities, it tends to make commodities of even the most personal things. Some people are comfortable thinking about their deepest choices in ways not immediately distinguishable from the way they think about iPods or cell phones. And the market is responding accordingly.
Such happens when a culture loses its anchors. Alter writes, “As family names and old religious standbys continue to lose favor, parents are spending more time and money on the issue and are increasingly turning to strangers for help.”
In Alter’s 2,500-word article, there is one instance of a couple fleetingly considering a family name. Otherwise, no one seems interested in naming a child after a parent, a grandparent, or a friend. Nor, for that matter, is there interest in a name bearing some religious, cultural, or historical significance — babies were once frequently named after presidents or generals — or for the beauty of a name, or for the meaning of a name. Instead, the search is about what is hot and “unique,” what will help “brand” the child as a competitive product in the global economy.
“I wanted a name that would look good on a marquee or a political banner,” says one parent. (She should try the “C-K” sound. It’s very respected in corporate circles.) For parents like these, the child is apparently another “lifestyle choice,” like buying a home or a car — for which consulting with professionals is the norm.
Alter says that experts in the field disagree about whether the current vogue of unusual names will continue, or if traditional names will mount a comeback. It doesn’t matter much to the name consultants, since they can support both trends. And it doesn’t matter much to parents, either: once people start outsourcing their most personal decisions, what they actually decide is secondary.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?