by Jason John Bartholomew
I woke up this morning, surprisingly, more right than I have ever been, because this amazing thing happened while I lay sleeping: my point of view went out into the world, expressing itself in my words, and convinced some others how. righteous and just my curt assessment really was; how beyond rebuttal or doubt was my essential, clear-cut, final analysis, and how some word, or a few, could never again have any meaning independent that resulting from my own experience, and thus triggered and cleary declared, my subjective reality is elevated irrevocably. Because, uh yeah, I do matter, and I’m not alone, as evidenced by the crowdsourced. statements in agreement of support, proving, individual grievances coalescing into democratic consensus bestow upon words an applied meaning, and even if retroactively redefined, must, once implied, forever mean whatever stated. by those declaring themselves most traumatically effected. And thus victorious, we victims rise, again and again, to poke out the insensitive eyes of any cretin in disguise who would support intolerance by purporting lies such as some right or freedom to use language objectively purified of the narrative context narrowly defined by emotional injuries whined by a tribe of only a few similar minds.
It is indisputable that language changes over time and that the meaning of words can morph somewhat, sometimes subtlety and sometimes in a more dramatic fashion, in essence a redefining of a word. (For example, I think that we are seeing that happen right now with the word entitled.) Language is a living and fluid substance.
Meaning is derived as well via connotation, which can be almost imperceptibly subtle and nuanced, as well as rapidly shifting or even narrowly local and geocentric. And then there is context. All actual meaning arises, I think, out of context and context is inseparable from intent, even when intent is not easily discernible.
In more words, communication is a complex and difficult dynamic even under the best circumstances with all players having a robust and nuanced vocabulary, a reasonably similar lexicon, and a basic laymens understanding of communication dynamics and potential pitfalls, both as active and passive participants. Declaring communication to be not only difficult, but a practical impossibility, an actual Tower of Babel, is tempting. Communication is certainly daunting.
That is why wrongheaded or obstinate tactics, and there are a wide variety of them used commonly, that purposefully muddle, with self-serving intent, the actual messaging someone is attempting to communicate infuriates me. I see a lot of this in the culture right now happening around communication style versus the attempted convey of ideas . To deflect away from intended meaning by pointing out the coarse/refinement of the words chosen, or the communication style, both of which can be very cultural/socio economic, etc. is disingenuous and smarmy.
But this piece is about attempts to co-opt language I did take an ownership on a words meaning. Everybody knows that words can have multiple and sometimes radically variant meanings. No one owns language and no one can stake an ownership claim on any particular word.
At some point if we really want to make the world better and we want to “save” humanity, we’re going to need to get down to the difficult business of trying to actually communicate among ourselves, that is to say trying to both understand and be understood correctly, instead of trying to be. “right” via some foolish, silly, and ultimately, for all of us, self-defeating oneupmanship.)
Our good faith effort to truly exchange thoughts and ideas with each other is evidenced by an expansion of acceptable language and communication styles and not a restricting, or narrowing, of that which we have deemed appropriate or worthy of our attention. The more narrow the onramp the more likely that membership and participation is being intentionally restricted.