Sleeping On My SoapboxI woke very early this morning, one of those sudden awakenings for no reason, that leaves you awake and wondering why it happened. My windows were bright with moonlight, tinged with tree shadows from the street lights below. I lay silently unmoving, drifting along the shore of the ocean of dreams and the wakeful sands of reality. Waves of possible dreams lapped against my mind, but the cold hand of a harsh thought dragged me ashore.
Fear poured over me, ice water cold rivulets ran down my spine and I shivered. A thunderous, yet whiny voice boomed up and down reality's ramparts: "Fake news!"echoed far and wide beyond the shore. Giant, glowing red letters appeared upon the ramparts, displaying this inquiry: "r u ok?" I lay my head upon the sand and wept...
As the last wisps of my unintended vision drifted away, I lay back in my bed and pondered possible meanings for what I'd seen, felt, and heard. Perhaps, I thought, I was experiencing withdrawal from convivial conversation and the luxurious flow of whole sentences. In essence, it was withdrawal from my attachment to the English language. I fear losing the touch of skillfully written and delivered speeches upon my ears, the joy of reading entire paragraphs instead of bytes and bits and snippets and spin.
One of the beauties of our language comes from the shades of meaning derived from use of just the right word in just the right place. Compare that to current dialogues comprised of a single phrase, littered with negative words, repeated endlessly (e.g., "fake news"), essentially a great hammer upon our ears. Consider the increased use of words and phrases imprecisely defined, subject to misinterpretation and misunderstanding (e.g., "Make America Great Again!"), essentially a yardstick with no markings upon its face. The word compromise isn't used now — it has too many syllables.
I am no scholar, but I love language. English is difficult because it seems not to follow its own rules. English can be tough because it's different in different countries; even in different parts of the same country. English is hard because it draws words from nearly all the languages of the world and integrates them into our working lexicon. English is a challenge because it's a living language, constantly changing, evolving, and growing.
America used to be like that. America is hard work — integration is never easy — but worthwhile in the long run. Why those lessons are currently being abandoned in favor of nationalism, discrimination, and a grade school vocabulary littered with letters for words... (r u ok?) is not entirely clear.
I want to believe that it isn't a character flaw in the American people, but a frustration born of misunderstanding and lack of communication which helps give rise to the fear behind the hate behind all the ...isms that plague our society. If we are to succeed, it seems only appropriate to begin with a solid knowledge of our shared language.
Maybe "lol" should mean: Learn Our Language