Why I Am Naming My First-Born Son John Smith

My darling is showing now. She and I are so excited, nervous, and full of love for each other and love for this new person we are bringing into this world. We are so ready for this new adventure.

When we first heard the wonderful news, we started thinking so hard about names. We wondered whether we should we name him after one of our grandpas? Or maybe after one of our grandmas? We also had to decide if he would take my last name or my wife’s. We bought books, ranked favorites, and had violent altercations with passionate truces. 

But ultimately, none of those names will be used. They’re not safe. His name will be John Smith so that he will be hard to find on the internet. Neither of our names are Smith — but in this day and age, where privacy is hard to come by and identities are getting stolen by the millions, I want my son to have a fighting chance at anonymity.

Try Googling “John Smith”. You can see that there’s way too many famous John Smiths (and loser John Smiths) in the world. My little dude will be safe from prying eyes.

Am I sad about not passing on my family name? Absolutely. But I know I’d be even more sad if my child went through life with my wife’s last name, which is so easily google-able. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life is full of tradeoffs, and I would do anything short of death to protect my child.

This was the obvious choice for me, but what about for everyone else? Since it makes such obvious sense for everyone to name all their children John Smith — should they? I think so. Are we about to enter a post-name society where people don’t even use names any more (because everyone’s legal name is John Smith)? We can only hope; that is a world we should all look forward to.


  • Best essay I’ve read in a long time, but it left me sad for you, your wife, and child.

    We failed them.

    Some well placed violence or threats of violence could have stopped this in the beginning. Now it’s probably too late.

  • Good Idea

    John Smith

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published