Mason Jars Stability of Baby Names
It's a Kardashian world, and there's not as much room for Michael in it.
The latest sign that 2012 will bring the end of the world, regardless of debunked Mayan predictions: Michael is no longer one of the five most popular baby names for boys in the United States.
It's a list announced, ironically enough, by the Social Security commissioner, Michael Astrue.
Relative obscurity for Michael has happened before. The name was ranked in the 40s and 50s through the first third of the 20th century before rising as a sign of hope in the later stages of the Great Depression.
What do you think of the top five of Jacob, Mason, William, Jayden and Noah for boys and Sophia, Isabella, Emma, Olivia and Ava for girls?
Michael first hit the top 10 in 1943, made the top five in 1949 and reached No. 1 in 1954.
And there the name stayed for every year but one through 1998. (David slew Goliath in 1960 and knocked Michael to second.)
That's why I was one of three Michaels in my first-grade class. That's why you could shout "Mike" in a crowded room and count on dozens of faces turning your way. That's why there was a glorious time when everyone wanted to be like Mike.
Is it a coincidence that Michael fell to second in 1999 as the tech bubble burst, to be replaced by the still-reigning king, Jacob?
A decade of being like Avis, No. 2 but trying harder, ended for Michael in 2009 when the name slipped another spot behind Ethan. And now the slide accelerates.
What do American parents offer in place of solid, reliable, classic, archangelic Michael?
This is what America has become.
Michael first stood tall as the United States was winning World War II and rose to the top as we stood up to the Soviets.
Michael was the undisputed No. 1 baby name while the United States was clearly No. 1 in military and economic might.
And as America began to stumble, American parents began to turn away from Michael.
Now we're the undisputed kings of reality television, exporting Snooki and Survivor and, yes, the Kardashians while importing what we watch them on, along with almost everything else we use around the house.
This is the dawning of the Age of Mason and, if not the destruction of Earth, surely the end of the world as we Michaels know it.