Category Archives: English and Grammar related

Hyperbole And The Slow Death of the English Language- AKA Why Some People Can’t Seem To Communicate

Ah, hyperbole, my old nemesis.  Why are people having a hard time understanding one another?  Oh, I see.  It’s mostly due to you.

It is bad enough when you are traveling alone.  People don’t think that absolute states are enough.  This gives us such abominations like “biggerest” and the “most dumbest”.  The latter often describes its user, doesn’t it?

But then you go and team up with word abuse.  This gives us the complaint, “I’ve been waiting, like, literally a million years”.  No known human being has a lifespan that long.  The misuse of literally makes me figuratively insane.

And how is your cousin, reductio ad absurdum?  I hear she has just been thriving on the internet and in political debates.  Why, her technique is flawless.  She simply extends anyone’s argument to the most ridiculous extremes and criticizes the results!

My fiend, you have diluted the meaning of awesome until it simply means good.  Gargantuan and gigantic are somehow smaller than they once were.  Soon, hyperbole, your exaggerations shall dilute the meaning of words until there is no difference left between all and none.

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Read Through Thoroughly

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I type my posts well in advance and schedule their posting dates.  This particular one was typed in late December 2013.  Even then, I anticipated that one thing in last week’s article (which I finished mere seconds before beginning this one) would tick off a few people.  The quote from Two Broke Girls.  I also assume with all surety that none of the offended bothered to read further.  After all, that’s what we tend to do as human beings.

We spend years as children learning to wait our turn, listen to all directions before doing, read through to the end of the sentence, etc.  I can only conclude that reading and listening thoroughly before responding is the result of nurture rather than nature.

Yet all of that childhood learning comes undone as we grow older.  We snap to judgment before facts are in, we assume we know a whole story from a mere rumor, and we stop reading and listening after the first slight point where we think we know what is being expressed.  This may be due to the constant state of rush we feel we are under in the adult world.  I could also be that we are used to politicians, bosses, and other orators taking advantage of the next word to conceal the real meaning, to be passive-aggressive, or simply to waffle on an issue.

We are conditioned to believe that the next words will be used to confuse the point.  This way  of thinking does help us in some cases, but harms us in many others.  We will often take offense where none exists to be taken, miss out on opportunities, take the wrong action, or assume guilt from the innocent.

Additionally, when we do read through, we don’t think through.  Take for example a phrase used by conservatives in the USA to express their disagreement with the tendencies of liberal policies to create dependence on governmental programs or to use government to take over things that were once the domain of private interests.  The slogan is as follows, “If you believe your government can take care of you, look to the American Indian.”  Now I saw this typed in white letters on a dark gray background and posted as a picture on Facebook.  The first comment below it displayed the type of ignorance of which I speak.  There are ways to disagree intelligently, but not the way this person did.  The accused the poster of being racist, went on and on about how Native American tribes aren’t lazy, etc.  I ask you, where does the original post accuse Native American tribes of sloth?  It doesn’t.  It makes the point that the US government has had a history of breaking its own treaties with the Native American tribes.  If anything, it paints a picture of the US government as being untrustworthy.  That is the only point the poster was trying to make.

Now I don’t really care if you agree with the example or not.  The point I’m making is this: read all the way through and don’t read in to things more than what is really there.  Read through and thoroughly.

TL;DR

Tl;dr is the annoying little scourge of online discourse.  Type anything longer than a tweet and many times you’ll get at least one such reply.  To save those who don’t know from embarrassment, tl;dr is online shorthand for Too Long, Didn’t Read.

Think about it.  If someone types something that is long enough to lose your interest, you weren’t required to read it anyway.  The sensible thing to do is to find something else immediately.  But there are others, in finding more than two sentences strung together longhand, who will take extra time out of their day to type their complaint in four letters and a punctuation mark.

Is the internet to be a mere dumping ground for empty slogans and pithy quips?  I hope not.  Yet in order to say anything meaningful, often times it requires more than 120-240 characters.  Deal with it.  Either read or don’t, but do not assume that the entire internet is written just for you.  Want to show ignorance?  Then just type tl;dr in the comments for anything longer than a t-shirt or bumper sticker.

Really?  Type one short paragraph on any topic and that’s what happens?  Is our ability to express our thoughts and ideas online limited to the duration of passing gas?  The author has taken time out of their day to express and share their thoughts, their ideas.  It’s the foundational idea of all communication media, internet included.  Yet many feel the need to announce their moving on to something else instead of doing so quietly.  Why?  Typing tl;dr is insulting the author as being long-winded.  An yet it is readily used if someone types more than two sentences w/o using txtng abbr, lol.  It’s more than ignorance, it’s flipping the author the middle finger, or mooning them at the end of a speech.

There is a quote from the CBS comedy series Two Broke Girls, “Twitter is stupid and Instagram is just Twitter for those who can’t read.”  While I don’t necessarily think that neither those services nor those that use them can be classified as stupid,  I get the point.  Twitter limits our expression, and Instagram even more so.  Do not be afraid to type your thoughts in their entirety.  Go ahead and use proper spelling and correct punctuation.  Show people that your grammar is more that just that sweet old lady you visit from time to time.  Let us fill the internet with more than just porn and cat pictures.  Let us think and discuss as well.  And if there is anything too long to hold our own interest, we shall simply move on quietly sans comment.