An Ari by any other (last) name isn’t me

ari-christmas-kidGrowing up, I remember always being one of the unique kids in class — in a lot of ways, I suppose 🙂 — but primarily because of my name. Ari just wasn’t very common. Throughout my adult life, that tradition has carried on, with my name being subjected to many mispronunciations, lots of misspellings and as a source of conversation starter because of its uniqueness.

But the Internet, as it is making the world smaller by the minute, has changed that. I recently developed a couple of online acquaintances through Twitter, in part because of our first name. One of them, Ari Herzog, even started up a LinkedIn group for people named Ari just as a fun exercise in finding ways for people to connect.

As a kid, there were disadvantages to having an unusual name, but as I aged and matured, I realized how many advantages there were, too. Then, just a few days ago, this blog post occurred to me because Ari Herzog and I were both commenting on a blog post we had read. Later, someone else commented and said they agreed “with what Ari said.” The thing is, the commenter didn’t say which Ari he was referring to. It was the first time someone had referred to “Ari” on something and it wasn’t clear they were talking about me.

Those of you with more common names are probably wondering why this subject warrants a blog post. You have lived with this situation all your life, right?

I think this post is more about my losing my individuality attributable to my name though. It speaks in a broader sense to the irony of the Internet. Particularly thanks to blogs, microblogs and social networking sites, the Internet has allowed anyone to create their own space and truly show the world how unique they are — even if their name is Mike, John, Gary, Jessi, or Susan. The irony is that the Internet also is a way to take away the individuality of people with unique names, like Ari.

As this world is getting smaller because of our online interactions, I’m finding that “Ari” isn’t enough for people to figure out who is saying something or who someone is talking about. On Twitter alone, I did a search for Ari and came up with dozens of people with my name. Well, I guess technically, it’s their name, too, but an Ari by any other (last) name isn’t me. I’m one of the crowd now.

Somehow, that’s comforting and yet disappointing.

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11 comments on “An Ari by any other (last) name isn’t me

  1. I know exactly what you mean! Growing up I only knew 2 other Shannon’s and my maiden name was very unique, as my grandparent’s parent’s came over on the boat from Italy. Growing up, if you had my last name, there was a 100% chance that we were related. I always felt unique. Then when I got married my last name became Nelson…a common name. (And I’m thinking of taking back my maiden name when I am finally divorced.)

    When I started my beauty blog back in 2005 I was only part of a handful of other beauty bloggers, maybe 10 if I remember right. I stood out. Now 4 years later there are hundreds of beauty blogs. Most of those bloggers I am friends with, but now I am part of the crowd…and sometimes it is also comforting to share such a passion and love with lots of other wonderful women…but other times I would still like to be an individual.

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  2. I had the same situation come up once while blogging too. I was originally the only Leesa that I knew of. I started commenting on a blog and realized there was another Leesa commenting too. People starting getting confused on who was who. There’s lots of Lisa’s out there, and many many Lisa Whites. “Leesa” used to be a little unique, but that’s changing now. I’ve met one other Ari in my life and that was in high school, so I think you’re still pretty unique 🙂

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  3. OK, so I am sitting here with a Jessica (who could be one of the names you wrote above) as we watch the “Stupor Bowl” (her words, not mine; I think it’s a pathetic bowl of ad-laden commercials for products I’ll never buy, but I digress) and am reading aloud your post.

    Hmm. I don’t know what to say, Ari. (I feel like I am writing to myself!)

    Sorry for causing what is apparently a tumultuous identity crisis sparked by the simple act (or so I thought) of inviting you to a LinkedIn group of other guys (and girls, I suppose?) named Ari. I don’t know what else to say here, other than hope and pray that other people named Ari don’t comment below.

    What if an Avi posts a comment next?

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  4. I grew up not knowing or even knowing OF any other girls named Stacy so I always assumed it was a “weird” name. Then I got to high school, a private school where kids from all over the county went, and suddenly I was one of 7 or 8 Stacys in my class. What was worse was that our last names were all around the same place in the alphabet so all our lockers were near each other, so when somebody yelled “Stacy!” it was the equivalent of a kid yelling “MOM!” in public.

    There was also a cluster of Katies near the lockers occupied by all the Stacys so you can imagine how confusing things got sometimes.

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  7. Love this post! I too thought I had an unusual first name (my parent’s named me after Wendy in Peter Pan) because I never knew any other real people with that name. My middle name was a name of a boy in my kindergarten (not what a five-year-old appreciates in a middle name) AND no one was ever able to pronounce my maiden name correctly. I had the hat trick of name challenges!

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  8. Ari,
    It’s yet another Ari. I can so relate to the weird looks and back pronunciations.
    I have grown to love my name; I just wish there were more female Ari’s.
    Ari Tritch
    B’ham. AL.

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  9. Sorry to join this party so late–I just was researching my name!
    I go by “Ari,” too, even though my full name is Arielle. I was sort of a tomboy and I hated how people would mispronounce “AH-ree-elle” as “AIR-ee-elle” because of the Little Mermaid, so one day when I was six I decided I would go by “Ari” for the rest of my life. I too wish there were more female “Ari”s–and I did go on a date with a guy also named Ari once, which didn’t turn out to be nearly as weird as I thought it would be.

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    • Ari, thanks for joining the party. You’re never too late on the Internet, since Google never forgets everything stays fresh, right?

      When it comes to mispronunciation, I can’t imagine that shortening your name to Ari helped fix the problem entirely, considering how many times people have butchered my name! 🙂

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