America, Please Quit Naming Your Kids 'Brooklyn'


America. What are you doing.

The map above, as seen at Slate, illustrates the most popular B names for baby girls, state by state. As you can see, Brooklyn is taking over the nation. As Ben Blatt (with whom Reuben Fischer-Baum, who created our far superior maps, has beef) explains:

The most popular B name in Montana is Brooklyn. There is no Brooklyn, Montana. The most popular B name in Iowa is Brooklyn. There is a Brooklyn, Iowa—but with a population of less than 1,500, it’s unlikely that it exerts much influence when Iowans name their children. The most popular B name for baby girls in New York? Not Brooklyn. It’s Brianna.

West Virginia and Wyoming fucking love the name Brooklyn, apparently.

As a person who grew up in New York and enjoys interesting names, I have several problems with this.

• Brooklyn is having a moment, true; the image projected in the TV and in movies is that it’s a free-wheeling hipster haven, but the truth is very complicated. The borough has crime rate of 38 (out of 100, where 100 is safest). A 2012 report found that 25% of Brooklyn residents receive foodstamps, and 20% of residents live below the poverty line. There are blocks in Brooklyn nicknamed “million dollar blocks,” since the prison expenditures are so high. If it’s edgy, gritty glamour you want, why not name your kid Flint?

• Brooke has been a popular name for girls for decades. So has Lynne. Why not just name your kid Brooke Lynne??? Actually never mind.

• You think you’re picking a unique name, but since everyone around the damn country is naming their baby girls Brooklyn, Brooklyn is not actually that unique. Surprise! Just like classes have Jessica C. and Jessica L. or Brian M. and Brian S., at school, there will be confusion: “Brooklyn did it.” “Which one?”

• Brooklyn is so very NOW that it will be dated in a few years. Eventually Brooklyn —as a name — will be like Peggy, or Hilda, or Marge. Something that used to be cool. Brooklyn is the name equivalent of a dolphin tattoo, or a yin-yang pendant. I met this guy in overalls the other day, and when he told me his name was Freedom, I thought, oh right, born in 1969, got it. Besides: Victoria Beckham already did Brooklyn, in 1999. America, you are late and unoriginal. It’s embarrassing.

• The question “Where Brooklyn at?” becomes less fun when the answer is “Montana.”


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