There is no sweeter sound in language than the sound of our own name. We are pack animals, we crave community and inclusion, and so it baffles me why we choose to deny each other of this satisfaction.
This may come across as petty or megalomaniacal, but forgetting someone's name and then telling that person the reason you forgot their name is because you are "bad" with names is a kin to a middle finger to the face, a punch to the gut, and a sign that meaningful human interaction will only continue to get more difficult as excuses like this are so readily accepted. Some may suffer an even more unforgivable fate when not only is their name forgotten, but also the entire prior meeting is brought into question.
Now clearly there are some grey areas to my Mr. Manners manifesto. Sometimes when you are introduced to a large group of people all at once it can be overwhelming, and unless you have a mnemonic device prepared, chances are you will forget a few names here and there. My qualms with the accused are aimed at those whom I have met on multiple occasions, and appear to have been stricken with amnesia since the last time we spoke. Yes, sometimes names veer from the norm and can be difficult to pin down. Such is the case with foreigners and those returning from spiritual quests who wish to now be known as Nalgene, but weirdos are people too.
This is not freshmen orientation on the quad. You are not a world-class entertainer who gets whisked from one social event to the next meeting hundreds of people every day. You presumably have a fully functioning brain with the capacity to remember things like I do, so what is it? You don't like me? Have I not made a lasting impression on you? No, that can't be, I'm fucking fantastic and you know it. Smack the gloss from your weary eyes, and put down Tinder long enough to make a connection with me.
This is an important and coveted life skill. If you don't believe me, go ahead and remember someone for once, I dare you. Greet them with their name confidently and watch the expression on their unsuspecting face. They will light up and be so damn impressed. That's how rare it is these days. I often hear objections in the media, and amongst my friends that things like Facebook and smart phones are not bringing us closer together, but are in fact tearing us apart. There is no doubt in my mind that this is true, but the real concern is if anyone really cares. Remembering a name will not bring back landlines or crash Facebook's servers, but it goes a long way in creating an inclusive community we all crave. So next time someone tells you, "Sorry, I'm bad with names," let them know they should be, because it's a real shame.
Follow Andrew Nackerud on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Gringotone