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Inordinate Ordnance: The Pen must be Mightier

Thursday, July 12, 2012

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Written by Chris Carr

Words are important. Without them, you might be staring at a blank screen right now. Moreover, they work a conduit for our species to communicate and progress with a similar understanding of the world.  I say, “I’m going to the grocery store.” You know what I intend to do, and where I’ll most likely be in 15 minutes. Words are good for that, that’s how they were designed to be used.

My business is words, and frankly, business is good. We have great big words that tell you that you need a Lexus, a vacation or male enhancement pills. We have words be recited on the nightly news and panning across the screen that bring news of tidal waves in Japan, Earthquakes in Haiti and bombings in London. Words are in us and for us and tattooed on us. Our names are words. Our emotions are words. Our relationships, defined by maybe one hundred words, a picture of the same, even more.

But words don’t stagnate. They evolve. Think of the words that mean something completely different now than fifty years ago. Tweet. Sick. Gay. I saw a poster the other day that warned me not to use the word “gay” since it is more hurtful than I may have otherwise thought. I’ll admit, I’ve professed something to be “gay”, but certainly not with a stitch of homophobia or accusation, I meant it as a synonym for that which is lame or just generally stupid. I’ve since washed it from my lexicon in an attempt not to offend. Which, is kind of gay, actually.

My point is that we see the bastardization of words each day and it runs ramped among uber-progressive people as much as the more traditional population. For example, the word, “Family” has become a political buzzword synonymous with that-which-is-wholesome. “Candidate A is a family man, so he knows a thing or two about economical catastrophe.” Or “I have family values, so I vote as such.” Who among us can honestly say their family is the pinnacle of wholesome anyway? Since it so over used, it waters itself down and becomes pabulum for senators to fill thirty seconds of air time.

I just think it is important to think critically about the thousands of words that migrate into our heads ever hour our so. There are too many people buying into words and not into products. How many of us have chosen one product over another because it was “green”? Black stretch pants aren’t worth the space they cover, if they don’t sport the stylized “A” of lululemon. It’s clever marketing, for sure, but more importantly it is the words they are selling. The words that are planted, ever-so-tactfully into your cerebellum like a consumerism time-bomb waiting to snatch up copies amounts Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts.

It’s inescapable. Currently I am wearing Axe deodorant. It has come to be synonymous with masculinity.  I want to be manly, so first, I must smell manly. Then I get the khakis, then I get the chicks. That’s how it works, none of us are above it.

But next time we read or listen to the news or a certain politician, keep an ear open for these buzzwords that have a bigger affect on our decisions than we might think. These words are carefully crafted and put together to make you think a certain way. My column here is written to reach to widest variety of readers by offending the least amount of people (except maybe those to disagree on my definition of the word “gay”).

Words like “Monetize”, “Fiscal Conservative”, “People have said…”are used to corral users into a state of comfort. Comfortable is bad, especially when the words being used are talking about the state of the economy, budget cuts of scientific programs and the name of Chloe Kardashian’s baby.

Words are used for good and evil. It seemed too many of them are being used to perform lobotomies, instead  expansion or explanation.

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