A recent afternoon at work saw a meeting with a chap I’d previously had no dealings with. Scampering along to it with the Intern in tow, I assumed it would be another run of the mill number, nothing to write home about. But to coin a terribly cringe-inducing phrase, the ‘takeout’ of the meeting was absolutely nothing to do with work at all.
Instead, he reminded me that, whatever the topic under discussion, sometimes a particular characteristic of the person sitting across the table is so distracting that it’s tricky to concentrate on the matter in hand.
Sat in the smart café down the road from the office, I was nursing a rocket fuel-strength cup of black coffee whilst he was speedily knocking back a hot chocolate. Most of what he was saying I don’t really remember because whilst he was knocking back said hot chocolate, he was name-dropping with alarming alacrity.
It would be an understatement to say name-dropping is a habit of which I’m not a fan. It’s possibly the one thing that I hate most in any personal interaction, be it social or professional.
I’m pleased to say none of my friends has the truly horrid habit. Sometimes, obviously, people will tell stories in which well-known figures crop up. If they’re well-told, and the person’s appearance in said anecdote is necessary to the story, then it’s usually good fun to hear. PolitiGal’s telling of BoJo riding round CCHQ on a scooter during the last General Election campaign is always worth hearing, and The Writer often comes out with little snippets of info about people he’s interviewed. But they only do so when relevant and interesting.
Presumably the point of name-dropping is to make you look frightfully well-connected and important. But if you’re so dull as not to have anecdotes of your own worth sharing, then a liberal sprinkling of well-known names into conversation isn’t going to make you any more socially appealing.
Or maybe it’s a sign of massive insecurity: name-droppers maybe don’t have enough faith in themselves to be able to hold people’s interests and think that those around them will be impressed by proximity to fame.
But the fact you know Tara P-T or George Clooney or Barack Obama doesn’t intrinsically make you a more interesting person to be around (well, actually, being a close personal friend of Barack Obama probably does, but the point still stands).
Whatever it is, name-droppers are social bores of the highest order. If we’re going to be friends, it’s because you’re a stimulating and interesting person – not because of the people you think I’m impressed by, and all the more so if the names you feel fit to drop aren’t inspirational people who have done genuinely exciting things with their lives, but society brats and self-obsessed meeja types. Sigh.
Society is now one polish’d horde, Formed of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored.