Yes, it’s the veritable moment when the linguistic prowess we once regarded as sacrosanct has been diminished to the role of a quaint anachronism, an irrecoverable relic of a bygone era.
Chances are many of these words aren’t used in everyday vocabulary, and that’s truly a shame. I understand, to some, my elitism may be showing, but work with me here. It’s an illustration to drive home a larger point.
To some degree, I believe as the intellect of society drains societal advancement drains as well. We have every amenity. We have every tool necessary to promote a sedentary lifestyle in the name of convenience. However, our threshold for what we consider to be convenient or inconvenient has changed drastically in my lifetime alone. In some ways, not for the better.
Forget the examples above. The relative intelligence of a culture is going down to the basement equivalent of the town sewer system when we can’t use basic, fundamental vocabulary in everyday life.
“Be right back?” That takes way too long to type out. Let’s make it a cute little hashtag. Nothing is wrong with the occasional hashtag, mind you, but I do have to wonder: How many people are abbreviating these things for the benefit of a shortcut, and how many of them are abbreviating them because they have no clue how to spell? What will generations beyond ours know as proper communicative skills in human interaction? Will they be faced with the prospects of actually knowing how to write out the correct versions of words at the expense of hashtagese?
Let us consider a few thoughts and words from some of the world’s great minds that have gone on before us:
“Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.” - John Adams
“Each age has deemed the new-born year the fittest time for festal cheer.” - Sir Walter Scott
“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.” - Frederick Douglass
Now I ask you, who speaks like that today? These are great figures in history. In certain circles, we still regard them as such. Where would they be without their eloquence. Somehow, I can’t picture Adams tweeting King George in this day and age with the average Americans vocabulary skills. “KG, man. Ur Brits r janky. U got 2 rimouv em, now. Nah, bihh. Ur gonna b gon soon, son. #yolo”
I wouldn’t have regarded him, or any of these others as serious intellectual thinkers, and by extension, would’ve been pretty agnostic on their abilities to influence history.
We are not an advancing culture. Language comprehension is down. A next generation mobile device isn’t on par with the advancement we went through when transitioning from the horse and buggy to the automobile. (That’s a discussion for later.)
For the love all that is good and sacred, America, I’m begging you: Don’t forget how to read, how to write, how to speak. If you want to live an excellent, above average life, strive to be an excellent, above average person. It can’t be given to you, and it can’t be taken away. It’s a gift you give to yourself.
The ball’s in your court. (Drops mic.)