When it comes to Twitter handles, @JohnSmith and @JaneSmith are obviously taken. So if you’re a brand new parent-to-be and you’re stuck with the common surname “Smith”, you’ve got to get pretty creative with your baby’s first name if you want him or her to grow up with a unique social footprint. But is that really something you should be thinking about between Lamaze classes?
The New York Times wrote a piece this weekend about several parents who obsessed over the Google results of their baby’s future name before deciding on “Kaleya” over “Kalia” or “Chloe” over “Zoe”.
They wanted unique names that didn’t have any negative associations online – no “same name” serial killers or sleazy types.
The article went on to explain that those parents immediately signed their unborn baby up for Tumblr, Twitter and Gmail, once that unique name was settled on.
And as strange as this might sound to the traditionalist in us – who believes a baby’s name should come from a pretty pink book with a stork on the front – in a world where employers Google someone before hiring and relationships can begin on Twitter, it’s not all that bizarre.
Whether we like it or not, our identities are increasingly being put on display online. Our Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds, Tumblogs, LinkedIn profiles, Instagram photos, blog post, and more come together to create who we are in the virtual space. And if we’re sharing a name with someone whose online reputation is less than stellar, we might be unfairly judged on their faults.
So if baby Jane Doe wants to carve out a spot for herself online, she’s going to have to fight tooth and nail to stand out from the crowd. But Jaylah Doe, on the other hand, should have no problem.
Unless parents have a tradition when it comes to naming, most simply flip through a book until something speaks to them. So what’s the big deal if, instead of buying a baby names book, they turn to Google and Twitter to search for unique names? And if they just happen to lock down an email address and Twitter handle after deciding on the name, well, that could only help their little one when he or she grows up and wants to forge an identity on the social web, right?
Of course, we can’t tell which social entities will be around when little baby Jaylah grows up, or even whether Twitter will change its naming rules. Still, in a world where your name links you to potentially millions of pieces of social information, parents who want to give their kids a head start by staking their claims early might just become the norm.