A social media craze is taking on names. And, my fellow name enthusiasts, I think we can do it better.
The game is called a #TellMeChallenge, or “tell me without telling me.” The goal is to convey a piece of information in a sideways manner, with a reference that makes people laugh in recognition. I’ve seen creative responses to challenges like “Tell me you’re from the Midwest without telling me you’re from the Midwest” (“We’ll just drive there, it’s only 15 hours!”) and “Tell me you’re the youngest child in your family” (image of a baby photo album with only a single photo in it).
When I saw a “tell me your name” challenge, I couldn’t click fast enough. But few of the responses did names justice. Most were essentially rebuses to sound out. For instance, I saw three different videos of men pointing to a toe, then a knee, and two of women flipping a page of paper. Others were even more literal, such as an image of some amber. It was like a game of TikTok charades, with nothing specific to the experience and power of names.
But then there was this response: “I had to change my first name over to my middle name because a terrorist organization hijacked it.” And one young woman used the opportunity to share more about her name experience. Here’s her original video, but be warned that the TikTok user name gives away the answer. You might want to read her description below first to take on the challenge:
“I am NOT
I am NOT
I am NOT
My name is French/Slavic and there are 2 ways to pronounce it.
You can say NAY/NEIGH (Like a Horse)
Or NUH/NAH (Like Nu Uh)
My name is historically a unisex name – it’s 6 letters, 3 Vowels and 2 consonants. And I will never find my name on a keychain in a gas station or at Disney.
Everyone I have met with my name (2 people) have the middle name Louise.“
By the standards of the challenge, her response is elaborate. Yet in reality, every name has a story like this: part personal and part universal, a link to everyone who shares the name. A story that shows off what makes names so richly individual. So, how about it? Care to tell us your name without telling us your name?