Yesterday the Today Show featured a story on “Nature Deficit Disorder.” Apparently kids today aren’t spending enough time playing outdoors, experiencing nature. According to the segment, “Studies show kids with early exposure to the outdoors have less stress, better concentration, more creativity and higher self-esteem than their more shut-in friends.”
Sounds like a good argument… but I related more to an essay I read today in I Was Told There’d Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley (my new favorite book), called “Bastard Out of Westchester.” Crosley writes of her suburban childhood, “Suburbia is too close to the country to have anything real to do and too close to the city to admit you have nothing real to do. Its purpose is to make it so you can identify with everything. We obviously grew up identifying with nothing.”
So yeah, Nature Deficit Disorder might be a real problem (well, maybe not because if it was a real problem we’d be calling it NDD, wouldn’t we?), but I’m thinking maybe we should be more concerned with GIDD, Geographic Identity Deficit Disorder. I just know GIDD has the chops to become a real disorder—it makes the perfect acronym—one you can turn into a real word because it has a vowel in the middle of it, like radar. Soon people won’t even remember what it stands for! When a tween sporting black lipstick, heavy eyeliner and a Hannah Montana baby tee cuts in front of you in line at the mall, you’ll just shake your head and say to your shopping buddy, “gidd… what a shame.”
Crosley goes on to discuss how perhaps her unique name, Sloane, was the only identifier she could latch on to: “Like a lunatic in the psyche ward with only smocks and slippers for clothes, my name is the one definite thing I own…Occasionally there will be a character with my name on TV or in the movies. I find this incredibly distracting. I should hope this is not so much the fault of my vanity as it is the fault of my untrained hearing. I assume, when I hear the sound of my name, that it is referring to me. It’s like watching commercials on the Spanish channel and comprehending nothing except the word 'Coca-Cola.'"
This was fascinating to me because Amy is such a ridiculously common name. According to Social Security Online, it was only the 10th most popular the year I was born, but I don’t believe it. (Crystal? Number nine? Please...) I grew up with my last initial permanently attached to my first name because there was always another Amy in my class, and there were no fewer than five Amys on my dorm floor my freshman year of college. (So of course we all had to have nicknames. I campaigned for Hottie but somehow ended up with Bubba… I suppose I should be glad Crazy Amy went to the girl across the hall who was afraid of fruit.)
I’ve become so detached from my name that I don’t even answer to it anymore. When I hear someone yell it on the street, I assume they’re talking to someone else. My college boyfriend’s previous girlfriend was named Amy as well, so I endured being called “Number Two” for almost a year… and the dude I’m (kinda) seeing now has a friend who’s dating an Amy so I’m being called by my last name, or my college town… which is a long story for another blog.
So is that why I’m so lost in contradiction? My suburban (Midwestern, no less) roots? Crosley’s unique name helped her overcome her GIDD. It seems I’m screwed. Well, at least I’ll know how to save the next generation, should I ever reproduce—raise them in the city… or the country… or name them something like… Dancing Queen. Wouldn’t even need a last name with an identifier like that.