Fix Your Words, Dammit! or: How to Stop Sucking at Words, Dammit!

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We need to fix our words.

Now, dammit.

Because of our reliance on the efficiency of technology and the constant digitization of everyday communication, our language is quickly being left to wither, stagnate, and die a slow, ignominious death, and for what purpose? What do we achieve when we kill one of the great differentiators of the human race?

So many receive their cues on language from social media, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the truth is that the information that’s continuously shared, liked, and upvoted is false, vapid, and generic.

For example, one person uses a word, like “literally”, in a tweet, that tweet gets shared and liked, and pretty soon everyone is peppering their everyday conversations with an abundance of “literallies”, mostly when they add nothing of value to the evolution of discourse. (“Literally can’t even” is quite possibly one of the worst expressions to enter the modern lexicon, and shame on you for thinking otherwise. In fact, ultra shame on you!)

Nowadays, eloquence and literary originality are dismantled all in the name of comprehension for today’s ever-dwindling attention spans. Grand ideas are stripped of their meaning and watered down for an impatient audience. Meaningful, insightful aphorisms are reduced to stale and superficial statements short enough to fit as a tattoo on the forearm or lower back of an idealistic yet simpleminded millennial too easily bumfuzzled by words they’ve never encountered before, like “bumfuzzle”.

What I’m trying to say is that there is a crime wave happening — verbicidal maniacs are running wild on our vernacular streets, killing our expressiveness with a bloodthirsty glee, and it’s all our fault; at best, we are complacent victims, and at worst, we are willing perpetrators.

But don’t worry, because I think I have a solution. It won’t be easy, but if you value the creative imagination our human condition offers, the price is one that you can easily afford without coupons or a Black Friday Sale. My solution is this: use your damn brain.

That’s right.

That lump of grey matter that’s just chilling on the couch in your skull, wallowing in its own dull crapulence, is your security from a creatively bankrupt existence dominated by pointless, willful ignorance. Put that sucker to use, even once a day, and watch your life dramatically improve as you get that promotion, impress your friends at parties, and cultivate a reputation of intellectual superiority and flamboyant excess, just like all of the great thinkers of our time.

I know, I know (I actually don’t) — using your brain is hard (not for me). But I happen to be an unqualified expert in brain-use, and have a few tips to help you bolster your thinking-bone for the benefit of those you regularly converse with, including sailors, nuns, and brain surgeons you’re distracting mid-operation with the witty repartee you cultivated from reading this article, essay, or whatever the fuck it is.

Now, this may shock AND educate you, but the first step towards fixing your pathetic lack of vocables and commentary is to keep your pointless mouth shut and think before opening it again to make whatever dull, useless remark you were about to make. (By the way, even if the act of preemptively shutting the lid on the ol’ face latrine is the only action you take, you’re still making the world a better, brighter place by cutting down on spoken emissions, so kudos to you, complete stranger. Buckets upon buckets of kudos to you.)

Then, take a moment to think about whatever clichéd, shit-brained comment you were going to spew, and make it better, or, more scientifically, betterize it. This can be achieved in numerous ways: embiggen it by combining it with another phrase (“what a shame” to “what a shame in the ass”); replacing one word in a phrase with another, far more superior word that bears almost no resemblance to the original word (“how ‘bout them apples” to “how ‘bout them pineapples”); or simply take a monosyllabic response and elongate to the length of something that you can use to measure the height of your children with (“no” to “I submit to you that most definitely probably not”).

Another option is to just use funnier, less common versions of everyday words: “gongoozle” instead of “stare”; “hurly-burly” instead of “commotion”; “namby-pamby” instead of “wuss”. Because I sincerely doubt most of you have any semblance of a vocabulary in the three-digits, this one requires the use of a thesaurus. And no, a thesaurus isn’t an unstoppable dinosaur made of words that consists on a steady diet of nincompoops (but if it was, think of the population control we’d have today if we had a few of those suckers strutting around!)

I’m being sarcastically and melodramatically pedantic here, but you understand my point, right? When did we become a culture that rolls our eyes at a creative turn of phrase? When did we consign our expansive and centuries-old language to a future of monosyllabic nuance? And worst of all, when did we become ok with this? I thought humans were supposed to be good at innovation and shit.

(A solitary teardrop slides a slick, salty sidewalk down one of my impressive cheekbones as I attempt to utilize alliteration to convey my weltschmerz. How would you simpletons describe my plight? Ah yes, EPIC FAIL, correct?)

Now, look. I’m not saying that everyone should go out and be little Bill Shakespeares and use only big words in everyday conversations. But I do think that we have a creative responsibility, nay, creative obligation to preserve and, even more importantly, strengthen our language, diversify our vernacular, and expand our lexicon.

Do you have what it takes to save the world with your newly found love for words before I hunt you down like the illiterate dogs that you are?

I sure as heck hope so.

And now, I leave you with some wise words from one of my favorite authors:

“Fix your words, dammit! I can see your stupidity!”
- Joe Garza, author of this article
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