Names vs faces. And names, lots!

Posted on May 23rd, 2009 @ 15:13 in Uncategorized

[written while procrastinating when I really should be rewriting my CV. oh, I shouldn’t have said that cuz now everyone knows I’m applying for a job and will want to know how it went. anyway, it’s an internal thing again and I’m only applying cuz the hiring manager took the time to give me some CV coaching (also he’s gay and a bastard, what more could I want? kidding! sort of). ok onwards…]

I suck at remembering faces. I can’t properly take them in, and even if I force myself to, I won’t be able to recognize them later. (er, there is a term for this but I forget. Katja to the rescue?) This is quite debilitating and frustrating, and a lot of people don’t understand that it’s a real problem, not just “can’t be bothered to look at you”.

On the other hand, getting names right is quite important to me, and I find them much easier to remember. And I make sure I use them correctly. Apparently not everyone does, as exemplified by these Ask.Mefi threads:

Those threads are all full of people going “I’ve told this person repeatedly that I prefer to go by X, not ‘diminutive of X’, yet they insist on getting it wrong”. I find that incredibly offensive and incomprehensible, but I’m guessing those people mean no harm, they just find it hard / impossible to “remember names correctly”, much as I don’t remember faces?

I’ve never cared much what I was called (obviously there’s the whole Clarissa vs Realname thing, but that was more a privacy issue). There is a diminutive of my Realname (just drop the final a, in case you want to know) that was used by my whole family when I was growing up. My mum still calls me it. My nan stopped at some point, presumably cuz she wanted me to know she saw me as an adult now. To me it always sounded like “I am mad at you now” (you know, the way your mother uses your full name only when she is mad). Still, I never told her “pls call me diminutive, I like it better.”

Other random name-observations:

  • A lot of MJ-fans call him “Mike.” I never did, it would sound wrong. He’s never told me “you can call me Mike” or “please call me Mike.” (he’s never told me anything at all other than generic “I love you’s”) The fans that call him Mike, I assume, are the same type of people who will call anyone Diminutive and not think twice about it. From this I must deduce that such people mean no harm or disrespect, since I can’t imagine MJ-fans intend to disrespect him. (they may on the other hand want to create a closeness/familiarity that is not there)
  • My Mon(ica) told me she refers to me as Realname when she talks to her mum or to Jimmy. This… it didn’t shock me or annoy me or upset me.. actually, maybe “mild upset” is the closest term I can find, but I also can’t really put my finger on why that is so. To me, I was Wam for her, or WamWam. (I mean it wasn’t even me that came up with that name, it just evolved from clarissawam) So maybe not being Wam(Wam) anymore subconsciously registered as some distance that had been put between us. That said, I wouldn’t require of her to only ever refer to me as Wam, she can call me whatever she likes (well, almost).
  • Speaking of Mon(Mon) – I never refer to her as JarJar anymore. I know Alisdair does, pretty much consistently. Mon also generally refers to him as squiZZ, whereas I really mainly call him Alisdair these days except sometimes when I mention him on here. Some people (I’m looking at you Jimmy) still call him Ally, which I find really jarring (no pun intended lol). And some one people called him Ali, which is even worse cuz he never even used that himself!
    But he is one example where the name just changed, and I never even noticed it (a lot of people found it weird that I called him Alisdair all of a sudden, and commented on it).
    I’ve never known anyone who changed their name completely from one day to the next. I wonder how long it would take me to adapt (but I tend to think I find it easier than others).
  • Interestingly, when I do modify/personalize names I tend to add stuff to them rather than shorten them. Our Nathan at work I turned into Nathaniel sometimes, but it would never occur to me to call him Nate (ugh). Jimmy I sometimes call “James Middlename” but I would never call him Jim (even tho personally I prefer Jim to Jimmy which makes him sound like a little boy :)) )
  • The only notable exception I can think of with regards to “disrespecting names” is my slore, who goes by L.J. and hates LJ (note ommission of the dots). I just can’t bring myself to type those goddamn dots, so much effort for so little difference. I guess that’s just as disrespectful as calling someone Dave instead of David. But at least I don’t call her Fullname online, like Mr Meaney did all those years ago. :evil


Katja said on May 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm

That’s an interesting entry. Stefanie has got the same problem with faces: She can’t remember them. She says she remembers people by their voices mainly (and also their clothes and their hair, which is the same with me). I’ve got no problem with faces except if they look really really ordinary. Then sometimes I cannot take them in instantly.

Tobias has the name problem. He cannot remember names, especially if they’re difficult/unusual names. For example fantasy names in video games. He always only remembers the first letter of them and then says some other name with that letter which HE thinks is similar. It’s driving me mad cause he’s screwing up MY name memory with that. Cause after he said that wrong name I often cannot remember the right one any more.

The diminutive thing: Yes, I think with celebrities (and maybe also with “normal” people) it’s a familiarity/closeness thing. I’m doing that myself, I’m afraid. At first I thought it quite strange and maybe also a bit rude that people were calling Michael Palin “Mike” or “Mikey” or even “Mickey”. Now I call him “Mikey” myself. And I only refer to David Bowie as “Dave”. It’s also to express a certain affection. Btw, I think it’s less rude if the person likes to be called diminutive. But I think it is VERY rude if you call somebody diminutive when she/he has only introduced him-/herself as full name and continues to do so after somebody has called him/her diminutive. If you know what I mean.

Then again, I do the same thing as you do: I add stuff to people’s names to personalize them or to express my affection. You know, I always do that with “-bunny” because I’m a weird person (and also because I have much affection for bunnies). Keirabunny, Busterbunny… I also combine that with the diminutive thing: Mikeybunny, Davebunny…

Btw, I don’t think Mon referring to you as Realname when speaking to her mum or Jimmy means that there is a distance between you two. I don’t call Tobias “Tobias+addition” when I’m talking to others about him. First, it would be quite embarrassing. *g* But then it is also a very affectionate term I don’t use when others are around. It’s like when people are talking to me about their partners and call him/her “mein Schatz”. “Ich und mein Schatz, wir waren gestern im Kino.” (or even worse: “BΓ€rchen” *g*) I think that’s silly and idiotic.

JarJar said on May 24, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I didn’t/don’t call Michael Mike either :p (except in some drawings πŸ˜• )

And about Wam vs. real name, it just sounds wrong. Wam is mine, not everyone elses, so doesn’t make sense to refer to you as that to most other people. Also I don’t think I ever call you Wam if I’m annoyed with you. :)) With squiZZ it’s different because squiZZ IS his real name. Always have been, always will be. 😐 :))

JarJar said on May 24, 2009 at 3:43 pm

BTW the bunny stuff is fun. :)) I’m gonna start calling people “-dog”. Wamdog, Jimmydog. πŸ˜€

Clarissa said on May 24, 2009 at 4:15 pm


And ja I know @ Katja re: distance. Just saying it felt like that. πŸ˜›

[edit] Adding reply to Mon’s longer one which was unapproved earlier. :))

You are sometimes annoyed with me? 😐 :wh
And ok @ realname cuz Wam is yours. Have you ALWAYS done that tho? πŸ˜•

PS Book flight!

JarJar said on May 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm

When talking to mother, ja. When talking to Jimmy, no, because I very rarely use your real name online.

Clarissa said on May 28, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Ah. πŸ˜›


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