Just thought I’d share a little rant about something that’s been bugging me for a while.
Why is “title” always a required field on forms? I don’t have a title and I don’t wish to be referred to by one.
I think the annoyance started with the fact that whenever I get a new bank card I try to get them to write my name in the shortest form possible on the card, so I have less to type when paying for stuff online. The ideal for me would be for the card to say simply “K Simkin”. I think I’ve only ever achieved that once and it was with a business account (they actually listen to you if you’re a business).
I’ve set up several new accounts recently and each time I’ve specifically requested that my name be written “K Simkin”, or at least “Kieran Simkin”. What did I actually end up with? well.. looking through my wallet now I have: “Mr K D Simkin”, “Mr Kieran D Simkin”, and two times “Mr Kieran Simkin” . Why?!? Not only do they all contain a completely superfluous “Mr”, but they’re inconsistent! I just find it really bloody annoying. Why are they incapable of printing a card without some kind of title?
Then I filled out a feedback form for the BBC recently, and I noticed that “title” and “surname” were both required fields, but “first name” was not. I just find that really odd… As far as I’m concerned I don’t have a title, and I don’t wish to be called “Mr Simkin”, that’s just not a name that I identify with.
I am not “Mr Kieran Simkin”, I am just “Kieran Simkin”. That is the name that I identify myself with, and I find it kinda rude when people call me something which is specifically not what I wish to be called. It’s like if your name is David and some people insist on calling you “Dave”, even though you’ve never identified yourself as that (which is something that happens to my dad) – it’s just rude to not take the care to get someone’s name right. People spell my name wrong all the time too (both my first name and my surname), but that’s just something I’ve learned to live with.
I do object to being forced to choose a title all the time though, it’s just stupid and archaic. It’s a legacy from the feudal system of the 15th century – your title is like your rank in the social pyramid – it’s about deference to those above you in social status. I do not wish to be a part of such a social structure and I do not have even the tiniest sliver of respect for those who consider themselves in some way “higher up”.
Sure, if people wanna be called lord or lady or doctor or professor or whatever, that’s fine by me, but don’t insist that I assign myself a title too and play along with your silly little social construct. I will simply pick the most outrageous one that the form will allow me to get away with. Now I occasionally receive post addressed to Lord Kieran, or “Rt. Hon. Kieran Simkin”. On the BBC form there was no limit to what you could put in the title field (but you were required to fill it in), so in the title box I put “My name is Kieran, but you may call me ‘Your Highness’”, and I didn’t fill out the first name field because it wasn’t required.
I will be a fucking princess if I wanna be, and you’ve no right to tell me I’m not.
I think if I were female I’d find it even more annoying – why should you have to think about whether or not you want to reveal your marital status every time you fill out a form? I don’t get it. I’m still not fully sure which of the numerous different titles for women mean what, or how you’re supposed to pronounce them. All I know is that a fail-safe option is “Ms”. That said, I don’t think I’ve referred to anyone by their title since I was at school.
Apparently it’s rude to refer to someone by their first name if you don’t know them? Why? Who decided this and on what grounds? It’s completely arbitrary and stupid – a social convention that continues more out of inertia than any valid logical reason? I just don’t get it – I genuinely don’t understand any of it. To me, rudeness is saying “I don’t care about you” – like fiddling with your mobile phone while someone’s talking to you – you might as well just say “I’m not interested in what you’re saying, so I’m going to occupy myself with my phone instead” – to me that’s one of the rudest things you can do. Deference isn’t politeness, it’s subservience and submission.
I do not wish to submit.
If I call you by your name, it shows I care enough to have remembered it, that is an act of respect and politeness… referring to your based on some arbitrary social convention means nothing, it shows that I respect the social convention, not the person.
Well, I don’t respect social conventions if I can’t see a valid purpose for them, and I see no valid reason to refer to people by their title – the only purpose it serves is to differentiate the lords and ladies, the professors and doctors, politicians and royalty and help them to feel superior. I don’t see that as a good thing. I do not respect your inherited status, nor do I respect you for managing to stick at education long enough to earn some silly letters after your name. It means nothing to me. Literally nothing. It does not make you a better person, it doesn’t even necessarily mean you’re smarter than me, or more wealthy. Nothing, it means nothing. If you think your title means something, get over yourself. Nobody cares.
It just feels so archaic to me.. like something we should’ve got rid of long ago. There’s no other way to describe it – a ghost from a world that I don’t inhabit and never have. If society were a piece of software, I’d mark it “Depreciated, legacy support only – to be removed in the next release”.
Like I say, I have no problem with people calling themselves whatever they wish, I just object to being forced to observe a social convention that I do not like or understand. Call yourself what you want, but don’t try to force me to occupy a place in your outdated world view.
And while we’re at it.. some cultures don’t have a concept of a first name and surname, or they write the names in the opposite order. Some don’t even have a concept of family names at all. Quit forcing people into boxes, just let them be whatever they want to be. Why do you need so much information about me anyway? It’s unnecessary.
Like there’s always a load of fuss when Facebook or whoever add something new to the choice of genders or sexualities. Why should you have to choose from a list anyway? Why can’t it just be free text to enter whatever you like? Perhaps I consider myself mostly straight but not 100%, is there a word for that? Bisexual? but that kinda implies that it’s 50/50, which would be inaccurate. Maybe if I could put whatever I like, I’d put “straight with a kink”. Should I be grateful to Facebook because they’ve granted me permission to call myself a transsexual? or should I just be annoyed that Facebook have any say in the matter at all? I’m going with the latter.
Here’s an idea… get rid of “firstname”, “surname” and “title” and just replace it with a single box that says “What should we call you?”
If you absolutely must have the full name for some legal reason, then you could have one box that says “what’s your full name?” and another that says “what should we call you?”
That way it’s not culture specific, and if people insist on some absurd archaic title from the middle ages, then they’re free to say that, but the rest of us can move on and forget about such nonsense.
Until then, you may call me “Lord Kieran of Fiveways”. If that is not amenable to you then I will also accept “Your highness”, “Your godliness” or “Princess PonceyPants”. You may also call me “Your majesty”, but it’s considered slightly rude, except on Thursdays when only “Your majesty” or “Princess PonceyPants” are allowed. On Saturdays you must not address me at all, simply bow once slowly and then drop to your knees and prostrate yourself in front of me. I thank you for obeying my arbitrary social conventions, have a nice day.