When the 2012 baby name popularity rankings were released by the Social Security Administration in May, I noticed there were three “pompous titles” among the top-10 fastest-rising boys’ names: Major, King, and Messiah. And not very far down the list was another pompous title, Prince. The only fast-rising name for girls with a somewhat similar theme was Miracle.
I mention these names because Mayrav Saar wrote an article that ran in Perth Now and the NY Post which did a good job of discussing this phenomenon in a broader context. Her article is titled: “Narcissistic Naming Trend Signifies Disturbing Change in Culture.” And it’s based on the work of psychologist Jean Twenge, co-author of Narcissistic Epidemic—who I’m happy report went farther with her analysis than I did. According to the article:
Twenge…notes a remarkable number of people have turned naming their babies into opportunities to show off – a sign of our culture’s increasing vanity.
Reviewing Social Security data, Twenge found that among the top 1,000 names given to baby boys in 2012, some of the most stunning rises in popularity were for monikers that promise more than Junior is likely to deliver.
There were 1,423 boys named King, making it the 256th-most-popular name, rising 133 places from the year before. Among girls, 243 were named Princess; among boys, 588 were named Prince.
Messiah was ranked the 387th-most-popular name rising 246 spots from the year before, being given to 762 male babies – and 49 female.
Some may see this trend and just roll their eyes, but Twenge says these names signify a disturbing change in our culture that could have repercussions for years to come.
“Narcissism is toxic to others and to society,” she says. “Narcissists tend to lack empathy, they tend not to be interested in helping others, they are aggressive when threatened and they take more for themselves and give less for others.
“I think some folks who are moderately high narcissists see their children as extensions of themselves.”
The article ended with a prediction from Tweng for a name, based on current trends, that might become popular in the future: Awesome.