Thursday, 11 August 2011

In which name-dropping is mind-numbing

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.


nuttycow said...

Interesting. Did I ever tell you the story about how I met the England rugby team, Hugh Grant and that guy from the Inbetweeners at a party once?

I didn't...?

Rage said...

You probably don't lower yourself to watching the Apprentice, but Melody from the last series pretty much won the award for this. And we all know how popular she was by the end...

soupemes said...

My director at work has told me about a thousand times: "Well, we're working with John Elkington. He writes a blog for the Guardian."

I know. You've told me. (Many, many times.)

Every time she mentions him, it's like it's new information. She's been doing this for months.


I agree - name dropping is a deplorable trait. It can be made worse with the addition of an anecdote like "I met Sade at a party once - she was really arrogant and didn't even smile at me".
David Gest; have you seen him being interviewed - every other statement he makes is a name-drop of the most pretentious order?

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Argh - there were some hideous name droppers hanging about the studio when I worked in telly. This also extended to name dropping the TV programmes they had worked on in the past, which seemed to have a strange social kudos among the select few. Odd. Didn't realise daytime quizzes held so much esteem...

Saying that, while on holiday recently, we did have a wine fuelled hour name dropping every famous person we'd met. One of the girls had an unfair advantage being an actress, and we were all positively encouraging the name dropping of the various famous dinner companions she'd had in a "Wowwweeee, WHAT WAS HE LIIIKKEEE?!" kind of way. That was fun.

Blonde said...

NC: Ahem.

Rage: I watched bits of this year's, actually. Not overly fussed by it. They all seem pretty cretinous, and Melody is clearly no exception.

Soupy: Gods above, that must be infuriating.

Luce: I haven't - and you know, I don't think I want to!

PDEWYMO: Nice. It's funny what seems to have cache, isn't it?! But, y'see, in the holiday situation, it was relevant and interesting - she (I assume) wasn't doing it to be an eejit. And if you're prying, then that's always fun.

HC said...

I once met three members of the England U21 rugby squad. I met them because they were boning my housemate at the time. Simultaneously.

I say "met", what I mean is, "I made them coffee".

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