What’s in a Blog Name?

by Luanne

After Marisha and I decided we wanted to write about our experiences with adoption, we brainstormed a name for the blog.  Marisha came up with the title Don’t We Look Alike? based on a joke she makes when she introduces me to people.  She might have been half joking when she suggested the title, but I loved it.  At first glance, it seemed to say it all.

But what does it say?  Since it’s Marisha’s expression/question, I can’t speak for her intention or meaning, if she has even examined it herself.  After all, the best jokes usually spring from an instinct about what’s funny or funny and insightful.  However, looking at her question from my perspective, I realized I wasn’t sure what it means.

Since it asks the question in negative form—do not we look alike–it seems to make the assumption that we do, in fact, look alike.  The meaning would change significantly if she asked, “Do we look alike?”  In that case, she would be starting from a position of uncertainty, wondering if someone who is a stranger to the family (not necessarily a stranger to her, but one who isn’t used to being around our family) thinks that she and I look like each other.  That question would be kind of ridiculous.

By phrasing the question in the negative, the case is made that we look alike.  Since we very obviously do not look alike, the person addressed has to assume that Marisha is being ironic.

According to my best friend and nemesis Wikipedia, irony “is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is an incongruity between the literal and the implied meaning. . . .Ironic statements (verbal irony) are statements that imply a meaning in opposition to their literal meaning.”  Steeped in irony, as it is, her question is clearly stating the obvious.

So why draw attention to the obvious?  Why use irony?  Irony tends to create humor.  In the case of a Korean-American young woman and her blue-eyed bottle-blonde mother, acting as if they look alike does create humor.  Humor puts people at ease, makes them less uncomfortable.  It even links people together by forming a bond of good cheer between them.  So when Marisha asks her question and people laugh, it’s an ice-breaker.

In this way, the question also relieves others.  If they are wondering about our difference and aren’t sure if they should say something or not, Marisha takes that concern away from them.  Now they feel free to acknowledge the difference.

Does the question then invite discussion?  Sometimes it does, but more often only after Marisha or I continue the conversation with a follow-up comment, such as “Obviously, I’m adopted” or “I wish I looked like Marisha.”

Sometimes people use irony to hold others at bay.  Like all humor, it can be used for protection.  It’s possible that “Don’t we look alike?” can function in this way.  It can be a talisman that keeps others from thinking too much about our family and why we look different.  It can be explained and we can all move on from there.  Why would this protection be necessary?  Maybe it’s because neither of us wants to be slapped in the face with our differences in every interaction we have with others when we are together.

Marisha and I don’t sit around and talk about our differences very often.  We are much more focused on our commonalities, the interests we share, such as our family, the theatre, music, dance, writing, and cats.  So when she asks this question when she introduces people to me, does she then see our difference anew through the eyes of others?  Are others a mirror to our family?

Comments

  1. I love the name of your blog:) In fact, that’s the phrase I use to ask people, who get a bit confused, when I tell them that “yes, that blonde woman is my mom…don’t we look alike??”

  2. Lisa DeNike Ercolano says:

    Luanne and Mitzie, my daughter and I (she is Chinese-American and I am your garden-variety blonde European-mix mutt) say the same thing! I think it’s a fun way to break the tension (if there is any) and let people know it’s OK to notice that we don’t match. As far as we are concerned: Viva la difference!

    • I agree that it breaks the tension. People like when you joke about it, I think. Both my kids are prone to joking about race stuff with their friends as it keeps things “limbered up” a bit, if that makes sense.

  3. I like the name for your blog and the reason Marisha suggested it. It shows a sense of humor but has another level of thought that’s more serious.

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