My last visit to Jamaica was in lieu of this year’s Carnival season. Like any other trip home, it had all the usual nuances. I connected with friends, met up at local eateries, checked out Kingston’s newest “cool” spots (there’s a new popular one every 90 days) and got myself prepared for Bacchanal Untamed. There was something very different about trip though. I noticed what seemed to be a drastic shift in the way a lot of people spoke. While this manner of speech is not at all new, I previously recognized it in the uber Uptown crowd. This run, no matter who I spoke with, friend, acquaintance, or someone I met in passing, I was in some way inundated with “who they knew” and how this inadvertently added to their importance. The name/status dropping had apparently migrated from an Uptown thing to an all around Kingstonian thing (that, or my friends got a lot more Uptown). Without any perceived necessity, an “I know ,” was added to the conversation. It became so exhaustive that most of my conversations revolved on how the person was affiliated with a perceived important person than on the overall meaning of the conversation. If I asked where to get tickets for something, I was offered a 15 minute schpeel about how someone knew the promoter and the girlfriend of the promoter and the one who does the marketing and yadda and yadda before I was told I could get the ticket online.
In village culture- as is seen in Caribbean islands- who you know can make all the difference in your progress. Knowing a teller at the bank will cut your wait time in half. Knowing someone at the embassy, will usher your visa application into the right hands. The nepotism is all the way real, and having the right last name is far more lucrative than having the tools it takes to get the job done. In small islands, more so than in other setting, who you know can in fact add to your overall appeal. That said, it seems to be on overload, especially when the persons one claims to know often don’t really know them. Name dropping is not just an Island thing, nor is it a Kingstonian thing. It’s an insecure thing. It’s the practice of an individual whose self- importance is measured not by their own merits but by the affiliations and/or merits of others. Knowing someone “important” doesn’t make you important. As we esteem to reach certain pinnacles in life, our circles will inevitably change. There will be a gradual shift up the social ladder, and you won’t need to alert people of who know. Aspire to be the person with whom you so greatly pride yourself on knowing. Anything else is simply not a good look.
Cover Image courtesy of kingstonstyle.com
Do you know Kingstonians who name drop exhaustively? Share your thoughts with us.