Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why do We Give People Nicknames?


Do you have any nicknames for certain people in your life? Do you have a special way of referring to your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse? Do you have a particular nickname that you normally use for your best friend? Why is that? Why do we insist on giving people nicknames?

We rename the people who are important to us because calling them what everyone else calls them just won’t do anymore. We’ve got to have your own special name for them. For instance, my wife’s name is Mindy, but I don’t normally call her “Mindy” because that’s what all of her coworkers call her. I don’t call her “Mind” because that’s the name her family has for her. Instead, I call her “Min” or “little honey” or “bud”. Only I am allowed to use those nicknames for her because they represent the importance that she has only to me. At the same time, I can’t call anyone else “little honey” or “bud” because no one else can share the importance in my life that I’ve given to her. Nicknames represent the relationship we have with that person. Nicknames signify importance.

Interestingly, this also applies to negative nicknames. People may sometimes make fun of others or “call them a name” not to show the positive importance that they place on a person, but a negative importance. We may be identifying something unusual about another person’s appearance or some unattractive characteristic in their personality, but the fact is that person has still become important to us. They may be our favorite person to pick on, but even that negative appellation shows that they have earned a place of importance in our lives. Just remember that importance is usually assigned reciprocally. If they’re the “dork” to you, you’re the “jerk” to them. 

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