An Essay on Words, in words.
Irony Disclaimer: The following is largely anti-words but expressed in words.
Language. Words. What amazing invention! (Or is it discovery, if we were to presume, with our intelligence the concept of communication was just waiting to be discovered? Shit, I’m already digressing.) So, yeah, Language. Obviously, it has fuckloads of advantages. In many ways, we are what we are today, because of the existence of language. In my case, I wouldn’t even have a job.
But as it is with us humans, there comes a point, when the progress has reached a threshold level, things get complicated. And when the context of our lives changes, our inventions/discoveries start having fuckloads of disadvantages.
Today, I see words have reached that threshold. Because as much as words might unite, by nature they are also highly divisive in nature. And if taken too seriously, outright dangerous!
For example, there’s this table. And you say the table is hard. At that very moment you have broken it down. The table might be a beautiful one. An old one which has served hundreds of people earlier. A wooden one. It probably has a nice fragrance. It has probably experienced rains when being moved. It has had “owners”. A pretty lady maybe once put her head down on it and wept. And a thousand other things. All these things make it a whole. A table that it is. But when we called it hard, it becomes just that and is ripped of all its other qualities. That way, by nature, words are divisive.
Same extends to everything, and even us. When someone is called Smart, he is Smart first, above all. He might be the nicest, wisest, most loving, caring guy as well, but in a way he’s ripped of all these qualities. Also because of the imagery the word smart has somehow gathered, being smart maybe almost means not nice, cut-throat, manipulative, successful. That’s how words work. They create a picture in our heads. And what picture people see is dependent on various factors. The receiver’s experiences, present frame of mind, their immediate contexts, the societal trends, et cetera.
Here is where the complexity arises. Suppose this person with this Smart reputation, when met in person, comes across as unsuccessful in the conventional way, there is outright disappointment. It’s because of the imagery we’ve already conjured in our heads with the word Smart. Maybe he really is smart but doesn’t care about being successful. The fact that I have used ‘he’, I have successfully eradicated women from the picture I’m trying to paint. It is just that I’m a male and I probably pictured myself. But that doesn’t mean the point I’m trying to make doesn’t apply to women. It does, but because of the different contexts and exposures, all kinds of unintended conflicting meanings can be derived by the different receivers of the message. It is in this way, words are divisive.
Especially, in today’s times, where the sheer connectivity and congestion of humanity has just led to more contexts, more words are used to define and address the problems; in turn, dividing and classifying the world further down. That’s why the extreme jargon, the extreme political correctness, the extreme importance given to articulation that you see these days. Today, words apart from creating imagery also need to be a very scientific logical equation. Expression has to achieve perfection. The results: mostly a string of important sounding words that eventually cut us off from all reality. Endless jargon-filled meetings that most of the times solve nothing. Callous classification of people into all kinds of ever-increasing things: liberals, feminists, conservatives, democrats, right-wing, left-wing, sexists, neo-liberal, alt-right wing, nationalists, modern, religious, and what not..
And when classifications and divisions are thrown around, they start defining people. They have to be one among them, and can’t be nothing or a bit of everything. You can’t be a “liberal” supporting any seemingly right-wingish idea, no matter how sensible in essence the idea might be. The fact is, doing sensible things merely in the context of the issue is getting harder and harder. In fact, people pick what they want to be labelled as. And act according to it. In this word-ly blindness, they take away from themselves a world of possibilities and all good sense. That’s the power words have assumed these days.
And I daresay, this will make us all crazy. If not already, surely soon enough if nothing stops us. Our thinking, imagining, has become largely in words. Thereby, they too are becoming divisive in nature, no matter what our intentions. Our heads are filled with words, imbibing them, churning and processing day long. In the process, we are only cutting down the world bit by bit in attempt to unite, but only more pieces remain for us to join. At the end of it, the objective is gone, the questions are gone, the direction is gone, everything is gone while we just are lost in a fog of words, trying to piece together an imaginary puzzle so as to some sense prevails. What irony.
That brings me to the irony discussed earlier. “As it is with us humans, there comes a point, when the progress has reached a tremendous level, things get complicated. And when the context of our lives changes, our inventions/discoveries start having fuckloads of disadvantages.”
You don’t see any disadvantages? Why do you think then ‘Talking it out’ no longer works in relationships. Why do you think we wake up with a buzz of words already in our heads. Why do you think we wish we could be silent in our heads. Why do you think we don’t look at the sky long enough. Because nothing is written on it. Why do you think trees are cut. Because we are only interested in words and trees don’t say any. Why do you think pets are preferred over humans these days? Because they don’t talk. Trust me, while talking pets sounds all fancy, if they really talked, we would kill them all.
Words are important, alright. Very important. But they should no longer be taken too seriously. They are superficial. They can’t be put on this high pedestal. They are not the gold-standard. Orators necessarily don’t have to be great leaders. Words should stop becoming substitutes for actions, gestures. Grammar should be given utmost importance in English exams, not while choosing life-partners. Kids with a gift of the gab should not be cheek-pinched more. The biggest bull-shitter should not get the promotion. The best man in the wedding should actually be the best man, not the best talker. The inflationary effects words have upon us needs to be realized. We are mere creatures on the planet. Let not the words make us believe we are anything bigger. Words are sounds at the end of the day. For our convenience. Some are good at making sounds, some are not. Some are good at grasping these sounds, some are not. What we should really get better at is understanding not the sound, but why the sound.
I think it is imperative for us to bring back the innocence words have stripped us of. Let us go past the illusions of instant conclusions that words provide. Let us become vague again. Let us start using broad words like “nice”, “interesting” more often. Let us notice gestures again. Let us grunt while laughing. Let us make primordial sounds like “Aaah” “Ooohh” “Eeeyyy” “Aiiinnn?” “Urrrr” “Ksheeyou” to emote better. Let not all our movie characters always speak so impeccably. Let us find bad spellings and pronunciations cute, not ridicule-worthy. Let us hear the unsaid. Let us talk with more than just words.
And let not merely my words make you judge this article but the essence of it all. And let not my words make you believe this is as grave a problem as it sounds to be. There are graver issues (all interconnected and inter-linked.) But in my opinion, it is grave enough to address else WE GO CRAZY!