Are Names Limiting?

From @soulthirtythree’s Instagram

Prince’s cosmic nature must be infiltrating my brain, because this thought occurred to me: What if one day, we’re all known as symbols?

This is what happens when you live like Prince. All sorts of unexpected notions take hold of your mind. By the end of 2019, you might find me hovering over Chanhassen as I levitate my way through each day in the fifth dimension.

Freedom, flexibility and keeping an open mind are going to be hallmarks of future generations, according to generational experts. Today’s world is so multi-faceted and fast-paced that I can imagine people feeling constricted by having only one identity for their entire lives. Why keep the name you were given as a child if you’ve morphed into something else? Labels, too, will go the way of the dinosaur (and well they should — labels are dangerous things indeed. If you’re labeled “shy” as a child, guess what? You may take that to heart, and become it). Future generations may shy away from labels, avoiding identifying themselves as “soccer moms,” for example, and refuse to acquiesce to the siren call of the minivan.

As a writer, it’s hard to imagine a world without words. While I can agree that symbols communicate on a different level, words carry immense meaning for me, as do individual letters. “Floral” makes me feel one way, “stingy” another. These words sound like they feel, and their letters form a distinctive shape that I recognize. But I wonder if future generations will feel that way. As our kids read less and watch videos more, they are becoming attuned to visual learning.

Would a symbol be able to convey more meaning on more levels than a word composed of letters ever could? Could a child be born and given a symbol, and at some future date, be able to add a flourish to convey new meaning through her existing symbol? I can imagine a world where the answer is “yes.”

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