I write short stories in my spare time. I do it for a few reasons but mostly it’s because I like to make up stories about people. Les is always making fun of me when I come up with elaborate back-stories for people or things we see. (An example can be seen here.) I don’t even let other people read them usually, I do it for myself, but I like them to be perfect and I’m particular about the details. I usually start the stories with a picture in my head and I really like the names to match the faces, and I’m pretty selective about it, a Kathryn looks different than a Catherine, in my head at least.
To this end I have been spending time on baby names websites lately, and they are wacky, crazy places. The websites vary in terms of design, amount of information, and usability. But the across the board, the forums and the links and the ads are truly terrible. (And apparently they lead to me having crazy dreams, but that’s a story for another place and time.) I have found a few sites that I like and that I have bookmarked in my writing folder, so they’re not all bad, and they’re definitely useful, but I am so dazed by the experience that I wanted to share.
CONTENT: One thing I’ve gathered from these websites is that there are people out there who will pick a name for their child based on what they think it means. But a name that’s been altered and changed time and time again – but just might be traceable back to a nice word in a language you don’t speak – seems like an odd basis for saddling a child with an unpronounceable, unspellable monstrosity of a name for the rest of its life. Sure it means “blessed” in Welsh, but Bendigeidfran just might get picked on in the school yard. (This is a real suggestion for a boy’s name from one of the baby name websites I visited, another site tells me it means “blessed raven,” so even more bang for your buck.)
ADS: I know the main source of traffic (and therefore income) for baby name sites is knocked-up women, but I’m can’t be the only one who doesn’t want to see images of fetuses in various stages of development on every single page. And apparently they are built in as links or as part of the sites and they can’t be blocked with AdBlocker.
FORUMS: Never in my life have I intentionally clicked* on such insanity as what goes on in the forums of baby names websites is truly horrific. Any dissent, no matter how polite or honest, is seen as a personal attack and is absolutely not allowed. The terms/abbreviations people (I say people to avoid stereotyping, but I’m 99 percent sure these boards are entirely populated with females) use for their family members and fetuses are just cloyingly, nauseatingly bad. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that these people are so insecure that they need to turn to strangers on the internet for validation of what to name their children. I can understand getting outside opinions before you give a child a name for the rest of its life, but those forums aren’t for opinions, they’re for circle jerking about “unique”/overused baby names.
*I accidentally clicked a link on Facebook one time and ended up in the comments section of a Deseret News article about Utah politics, that was worse – similar, but worse.