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Forget-Me-Not — How to Combat the Name-Forgetting Crisis

Before you forget my name too, let me give you some advice

There is nothing more embarrassing than seeing someone you recognize, saying “Hi,” starting a conversation and then realizing halfway through that you have totally and completely forgotten their name. It’s nothing personal — our brains hold a lot, like those video game strategies, memorized Celsius flavors and those useless TV jingles you still remember. It’s understandable, or, at least, you can keep telling yourself that!

Whether it is a class friend, a dorm friend or a friend of a friend, forgetting someone’s name is never fun. And with the school year in full swing, you need to be prepared for the inevitable debate about whether your friend that lived two floors above you in your first-year dorm is named Alex or Sam. It’s Sam by the way, in case you forgot. 

By the way, I’m not an expert on this. I just happen to remember everyone’s names because I am an encyclopedia of ever-growing knowledge. This advice is warranted due to the rising numbers of name forgetting I’ve seen in these last couple of months. Since August, names have been forgotten left and right. Like, take you for example. I bet you’ve already forgotten my name while reading this article, and I’m the one who wrote it. The problem really is all around us. 

What is the U.S. president’s plan for addressing the Forget-Me-Not Name Crisis? With no one else here to speak up, I knew I had to step in. 

Here’s a list of tips and tricks I like to use when forgetting someone’s name.

  1. Attempt to subtly check their Instagram while engaging in meaningless small talk.
    1. The subtle Instagram check is an age-old strategy that only works if executed perfectly. First, you must ask them a question about themselves — preferably one that carries little weight in the greater scheme of existence, like what they have done that day and how they went about it. Then, while they are offering detail upon detail of the bagel and yogurt they had for breakfast, you subtly pull out your phone and search in your Instagram feed, your followers list, your friend’s followers list and more. The key to this strategy is that you must know where to start — perhaps one of their friend’s names — or something they are involved in. And hey, if you don't know anything about them, I honestly think you should rethink your listening habits. 
  2. “Bump” into another friend to introduce them to and absolve yourself of inconsiderateness.
    1. The “bump” is an effective strategy because it reassigns your job to the forgotten themselves. Basically, for a “bump” to work, you must bump into a friend you do know the name of, and introduce them. “This is my friend Sarah!” you’ll say to the person’s name you’ve forgotten. Remember, that’s all you have to say. Then, the forgettee will introduce themselves to Sarah, and by extension remind you of their name. The “bump” can be as literal as you’d like. I’ve seen people use the belly bump, fist bump, butt bump and even the triple axel bump.  Whatever bumping strategy you use, it will create the impression that you knew their name all along and that you were just giving them space to introduce themselves.  
  3. Ask for their computing ID.
    1. Now, this strategy is probably the most complicated to execute. If you are feeling risky, it’s time to implement strategy number three — the computing ID, the most sacred of identifiers. University computing IDs are a unique mess of letters and numbers that usually leave you more confused than ready to send out information. However, with one quick lookup on the University Student People Search, you’re good to go — first, middle and last names provided! You even see what school they are studying in. It’s a unique resource that is honestly not used enough. The reason why this strategy is so complicated is because it requires an impetus to send an email to this person — otherwise, they will get suspicious as to why you need their computing ID. In order to maintain nonchalance, you need to find something to email them, such as an accidental send, a shared document or an awkward introduction, and you are golden! 
  4. Perhaps actually start remembering names. 
    1. Like I said, our brains hold a lot of information, like the lines of cringy teen movies or the words to every song in “Hamilton”. But if there’s anything you could do to not be the worst, it would be to remember someone’s name. If that means you use notecards, Quizlet or even seeking out name training somewhere, then so be it. 

With the Forget-Me-Not Name Crisis still upon us, it’s important to remind ourselves that a name remembered is a day made. It’s not as hard as you think, and with these pieces of advice in your toolkit, may you never forget a name again. Remembering someone’s name is the least you can do, and I know you readers are capable of it!