Tuesday, May 20, 2014

the trouble with words

I have extolled my love of words many times here. It's something that isn't going away. I like to write them, I like to read them, and I love when they are used in a such a way that I can feel exactly what the writer is trying to express. And that, my friends, is where the problem lies.

The trouble with words is that some are losing meaning. The more often I read certain things, the more often I'm sure they aren't genuine.

LOL is the biggest offender. Are you really laughing out loud? Probably not. Maybe if the comment had been made face-to-face, you would be. But still, I get that it serves a purpose, to simply say "that was funny." I do it too, and I don't intend to stop, but I still like to be conscious of it and say something that means more when something really is funny.

Perhaps I'm too literal, but I recently saw someone on facebook describe the ending of a celebrity's marriage as "devastating." This, friends, is where I encourage you to use a thesaurus. I just find that descriptor about the dissolution of the marriage of someone you don't actually know to be a bit too strong. I understand that devastating is a strong word that conveys a strong, specific emotion, but it doesn't seem accurate. I would much prefer a sentence worth of explanation than a word that doesn't quite fit.

My least favorite - and a sin I have committed many times until I recently vowed to stop - is "can't wait." Can't wait to see your vacation pics! Can't wait for that link up! Um, yes Lauren, you CAN wait. You will probably forget about that thing you "can't wait" for as soon as you click on to the next post. It diminishes the meaning of the sentiment when you use it in the context of things you are truly excited for - your own vacations, the end of a stressful work day, the nieces coming to visit this summer. Just stop it. Use your words to say something with more meaning rather than extending a platitude that we all know isn't true.

I majored in communication studies in college, and a professor once said that good communicators don't use idioms - phrases like "it's raining cats and dogs" and "so hungry I could eat a horse" where wholly unwelcome. I had to stretch my brain, to ask myself how I really felt, what it really looked like, and dig deeper to say the thing I meant to say. And I miss that. In a world of texts and 140 characters, it's hard to really convey all the things I mean. But aren't those words and extra characters where the good stuff comes from? Using all those words is the only thing I can do to show you who I really am - more than a girl behind a screen full of untrue LOLs and empty can't waits.

I want to use all the words in a way that lets you know me more, a way beyond what people in real life see. In real life, it's hard to articulate all the things you want to say; you're fighting for attention with background noise, smart phones, and your own internal distractions. The written word is a place, for me at least, where I can think through what I want to say- something I rarely do in real life. I want to describe everything, and I want you to get it. I want to write with words that are savored and accurate, regardless of the number used. I want to give words the value they deserve and let you know that I mean what I say. I want the trouble to lie in the vastness of too many good words to read.

21 comments:

  1. i use LOL probably more than an almost-40yr old should but it's an easier way for me to let the other person know that i'm laughing or at the very least, chuckling.

    which leads me to think - how did we communicate that before LOL arrived? smiley faces?

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  2. i use to be so against LOL and would only say 'haha' and then i got over it haha. apparently not because i did not plan to write that haha, it just came out. anyway. i like lol because sometimes its like 'i have nothing else to say so please let this texting or commenting end now'
    i HATE HATE HATE when people use literally incorrectly. i'm so hungry i could 'literally' eat a horse.
    no, no, no, no.
    can't wait - so true, i do that all the time! i'm not good with words though.

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  3. If I write LOLOLOL that means I am really laughing out loud. And I actually do laugh out loud really frequently. I am a chuckler.

    I'd replace Can't wait with I'm excited to...which is similar but different. Either way I'm really jazzed about whatever it is.

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  4. I completely agree. It's worth it to take an extra minute and consider whether the words you're typing are actually true--to think about meanings instead of just typing the same kinds of phrases and words simply because the situation seems appropriate.

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  5. I use LOL a lot, but I laugh a lot and usually mean it when I type it.

    I also say "can't wait" sometimes when I don't really mean it. I will tell you this...I can not wait until our next beach trip. Like...counting down the days until I am hearing the waves crash in as I am sipping a cold beverage, more than likely lounging in the pool. I can wait for a link up.

    You have a great point about really thinking about what you are saying/typing.

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  6. I really like your words! I think in this age we are so quick to fire of the message to get it over with we don't even think of the words we choose anymore. I always want to speak with more words but type with less.

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  7. i am guilty of using 'can't wait' far too often! especially in the blog world, when you're right i will probably forget about it and can wait

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  8. I'm definitely a real life lol'er... I usually only use it in texts though, otherwise I use "hahahahahahahahahah" or if it's REALLY funny: "BAHAHAHAHAHA!" haha :) :P

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  9. I agree with the other readers. I tend to use the Hahaha. If you get an LOL from me - I really did laugh! And I really need to think my use of Can't Wait. I could be charged with word felony for the amount of times I use that. I love this though! Good reminder of how powerful words can be.

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  10. Fantastic point about the "can't wait" habit. I am terribly guilty about that. I'll need to try and stop that habit and explore the true words I have for that feeling instead.

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  11. LOL about this post and can't wait to read everyone else's thoughts ;)

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  12. I really try not to use LOL I prefer lots of hahahahahaha's if something is really funny. After all I would be laughing like that if I was really laughing.

    As for can't wait, I prefer I'm excited instead. I'm excited you had a great link up idea, I'm excited to maybe post too if I can remember, and I'm really excited to see what you have to say about the topic. All true but maybe I'm now over excited?

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  13. Oh my goodness girl YES. I realize that I go through phases with words and then they feel, well, lame (at best).

    Also, I had a teacher in high school who had all the clever ways William Shakespeare said common things we say nowadays... And I could spend the whole class just looking through the list.

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  14. I agree, but I think this is something that goes much deeper than just a "lol" or "can't wait". It seems like often times things like "i promise" don't hold any sort of integrity anymore. I know there is a scene in The Crucible, where John Proctor has been sentence to death for witchcraft. He is told that if he signs a confession admitting he is a witch, then he can live. Proctor cannot bring himself because he cannot sign his name to a lie. I often think about that and wonder how easy it is for people to sign their names to lies or tarnish their names.

    And that's my tangent for the time being.

    -Jackie
    http://ournashvillelife.com

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  15. This is so true and I'm definitely guilty of "lol" and "can't wait." I do wish words would have more meaning, but I feel that on social media these kinds of phrases just become "fillers"

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  16. I would have to say since blogging, I overuse so many words and phrases. It's sad, actually. I definitely use LOLOLOL a ton. Whoops.

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  17. Is 'Lol' better if I put a z at the end?

    "LOLZ!"

    No, I need to get better with words. You're inspirational.

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  18. I agree- as you know- that people don't think seriously enough about what their words mean to them. Thank you for sharing this!

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  19. Nice post Lauren...I like the deep thought ones from you. Sometimes I do LOL...luckily I work in my own office and not a cube, people would think I'm crazy. If I LOL at home I always have to read the part to P.

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  20. i often find myself making up new words or squishing some together to properly convey what i'm trying to say. i'll throw a "ly" or "esque" or "ish" at the end of something in a heartbeat.

    but you'll never take my lol away from me.

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  21. For me, it comes down to laziness. I'm guilty of can't wait and LOL on gchat and blog comments (hahaha more than LOL though, I don't like LOL) because I'm too lazy to come up with longer sentences when a quick 3 letters will do. It's bad, I know. But I promise I don't use it my legal writing!

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I like comments and read them all but I'm not great about responding to them, so please don't be offended. I would much rather visit your blog instead!