A Few Definitions

Aside from fire and Velcro, language is the most useful tool humans have ever produced.  Once we went beyond grunting and growling, we were able to communicate complex ideas with a precision that made us the dominant species on this planet.  Unfortunately, these days we’re not playing nice with our words, and they’re losing their effectiveness.  We’ve taken to manipulating the language to try and give words extra meaning that they don’t deserve – and it’s failing miserably.  Here are a few contemporary words (we’ve all heard thousands of times – a day) that are supposed to carry a connotative punch – but they don’t – because we all know what they really mean.

1 — White Privilege – A bunch of privileged white people calling other white people “privileged” as if they did it on purpose just to be assholes.

2 — Twitter – A virtual stick that we beat people with until they agree not to disagree.

3 — Instagram – An historical record of just how culturally shallow we are in the 21st century.

4 – Facebook – Instagram for old people.

5 — Woke – “I live on a higher plane of consciousness than you do.”

6 — Virtue Signaling – This is how you know I live on a higher plane of consciousness than you do.

7 — Hate – Criticism you don’t like. “She said these jeans make me look fat.  She’s always been a hater!”

8 — Support – Criticism you do like.  “She said these jeans made me look curvy.  She’s always been supportive!”

9 — Brave – We’ve been using this word for everything from telling our daughter we’re gay to wearing pink chiffon, yoga pants and a hoodie.  Essentially, we’ve devalued the currency of this term so completely nobody even hears it anymore. (Remember what happened to “hero”?)

10 — Clicktivist – There is no IRL equivalent to this made-up cyberword.  The closest I can find is smug.

11 — Gluten Free – What we’ve been doing to safeguard our health — instead of finding a cure for cancer.

12 — Content Warning – The latest lame-ass attempt to keep the cybermob quiet.  We use it because — in the great tennis match between the eagerly offended and the immediately placated — the offended crowd upped the ante and declared that “trigger warning” itself was actually a trigger.  Go figure!

13 — Conversation – As in “We need to have a conversation about that.”  And it means: I’ll do the talking, and if you don’t shut up and agree, I’ll go Twitter (see Item #2) on your ass.  Not to be confused with “dialogue” which is too yesterday to be taken seriously.

14 — Issues – Problems that can’t possibly be solved.  A handy way to maintain perpetual victim status.

15 – Giving Back – The stuff rich people do when they are a) “woke” (see item #5) b) “virtue signaling (see item #6) and c) have some time on their hands.

16 – Awareness – Wasting time stating the obvious.  Does anybody know anybody who isn’t aware of inequality?

17 — Authentic – Social media sincerity that takes a ton of careful planning.

18 — Shaming – No, I’m not going to go there.

19 – Toxic – I don’t like this, and I’ve decided that nobody else should like it either.

And finally the one that demonstrates just exactly how easily the language can be manipulated:

20 – ‘Splaining – Add any prefix you want (man, age, size, eco, etc.) and you can get pissed off about it.

Swearing — 2022

My computer went poof!  The lights went out, the screen went blank and there was silence from its hardwired cerebral nerve centre.  Meanwhile, in the real world, there was much unplugging and plugging, tapping and swiping, even shaking and banging – the usual human response to electronic misdemeanors.  Plus there was a torrent of obscenities that rose in the air, formed a dark, darker, darkest cloud and is now floating somewhere over the Pacific.  No, it didn’t do me any good to shout my way through a vulgar vocabulary I’ve collected over half a century but … and it’s a big but …  I felt better.  That’s what swearing does.  It makes you feel better.  Unfortunately, like most things the millennials and their progeny have gotten their mitts on, in the 21st century, swearing is being ruined.

I’m old enough to remember when swearing was an art form, a verbal quest to find words that expressed the primitive soul that lurks inside all of us.  In those days, people generally didn’t swear in polite society.  Swearing was reserved for exasperation, frustration, anger, the end of the argument – all the most primitive emotions.  People swore when the pudding boiled over, or the neighbour wouldn’t listen to reason, or the cat crapped on the carpet.  Swearing was reserved for those special times when ordinary words just didn’t cover it.  It released the tension, so we didn’t toss the pudding across the kitchen, punch the neighbour or kill the cat.  These words were forbidden, and so, with one broken taboo, we became badasses.  We stood toe-to-toe with life’s evil fortunes and refused to be bullied.  Then it was over.  We metaphorically washed our mouth out with soap and carried on.

Unfortunately, these days, swearing is used as punctuation.  In the ordinary course of conversation, it’s splashed around like ketchup on a redneck’s breakfast.  It literally doesn’t mean anything anymore.  It’s lost its punch.  When you call your best friend a bad bitch on a daily basis, what do you call her when she actually is one?  And that’s why the millennials spend every waking hour offended.  They have no way to release the emotional pressure.  Here’s the deal.  When I trip on the stairs and bang my shins, I send out a wave of invectives to the world, from the person who chose to live on the second floor (me) to the carpenter who built the offending structure.  Millennials can’t do that.  They’ve already used their strongest words describing the latte they had at lunch and there’s nothing left for when real problems happen.  So — when life comes along and pees in their porridge, there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.  And it serves them right, the $%()#! bastards!

Beware These Words

I have been plagued by the dichotomy of the “ible/able” words my entire life.  These are the words that, as little kids, we’re told are the GPS to success.  However, by the time we become teenagers, we discover that these words are really a double-edged sword.  And then, as adults we realize that, at times, they’re just out and out lies.  Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Sensible

What it’s supposed to mean — Doing the proper thing.
What it actually means — Staying home and studying for your algebra exam while all your friends are at a party so-o-o epic that they’re still talking about it 20 years later!  The one where some guy took your girlfriend, Monica Peters, home — and a week later she dumped you.

Reasonable

What it’s supposed to mean — Looking at all facets of a problem or situation.
What it actually means — You’re going to get your ass kicked trying to explain to the wannabe biker on the Harley that the horn on your fuel- efficient Ford just gets stuck sometimes.

Capable

What it’s supposed to mean — The ability to perform a number of different tasks or duties.
What it actually means — You’re always given the crap jobs ’cause you’re the only one who knows how to do them.

Dependable

What it’s supposed to mean — A consistency that people can rely on
What it actually means — Guess who’s going to be the designated driver — again?

And finally

Responsible

What it’s supposed to mean — Personally taking care of the things required of you.
What it actually means — The night before the big meeting, you meticulously lay out your wardrobe, review your presentation, gather your notes, your charts, pens, paper, a pointer and another pen — just in case.  You arrive 15 minutes early.  Brenda arrives 10 minutes late, looking like she slept in her clothes.  She borrows your extra pen and some paper and scribbles a few lines while Dexter is rambling on about the “Mission Statement.”  Then, when you hesitate because you don’t want to look too pushy, she lays out the most brilliant proposal anybody in the company (including you) has ever heard — the bitch!

The “ible/able” words let you sleep at night, but they’re not very much fun.