Baby Hashtag: has the search for original names gone too far?

Baby Hashtag: has the search for original names gone too far?It may be a joke or a hoax but one new mum has apparently announced on Facebook that her newborn baby girl is called Hashtag.

This name, an apparent tribute to the ubiquitous # symbol in social media, has led to predictable outrage in the Twittersphere.

The biggest objection is that the child will be lumbered with a name that will draw scorn in the playground. No one born in 1983 is called Amstrad or Pac-Man, after all. But fears of a life of cyberbullying for Hashtag are unfounded as she will be hanging out with Caligula and Boudicca if she lives in north London and Kaiden and Luca-Ky if she lives in Norwich. In a playground of weird names, Hashtag will fit right in.

As parents search for ever more original names, and assert their individuality by spelling them strangely, children are increasingly being named after ideas, trends or forms of communication. In Israel, Lior and Vardit Adler named their girl after the "Like" button on Facebook. Other couples named their babies Facebook in honour of the social media site's role in the Arab Spring.

Of course there are frivolous names – the parents who pay homage to designer labels, alcohol or even drugs in their names are justly criticised – and hurtful names: Last year officials held a renaming ceremony in Maharashtra, India, to rename 285 girls who had been given names such as "Nakusa" or "Nakushi", which mean "unwanted", because their families had hoped for boys.

While Generation Hashtag and Facebook will certainly date – little Facebook could never have been born in 1999 – and so locate a person's birth in a certain era, the same is true of popular names, which boom and bust over the decades. As the data on baby names in England and Wales helps show, Kevins and Tracys were probably born in the 1970s; Harrys and Jacks from the 90s onwards; and Bettys and Mabels were either born 80 years ago or last week.

For new parents who are kicking themselves they didn't come up with Hashtag first, plenty of other cute names are synonymous with 2012: aren't little Kindle, Leveson, Gangnam and Flood simply adorable?

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Patrick Barkham, for The Guardian on Wednesday 28th November 2012 16.24 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010