There never seems to be a dull moment on my days off anymore. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing so much as stating it as a fact. I woke up far earlier than I wanted, couldn’t get back to sleep, and so I got to work on writing notes for my latest project. A headache started to creep in. I decided to get some WoW time in before taking a nap and just relaxing a little.
And then, after my nap (which my headache endured, sadly), I got my first-ever jury duty summons. The fun plot-twist is I got it for Pittsburgh. I’ve tried to change my voter registration twice now, with a third piece of mail arriving recently to say my address may not be up-to-date. I’ve not been as good about my driver’s license, I’m afraid. Needless to say, I’m sure it’ll be loads of fun trying to make it so I won’t be driving a four-hour round-trip.
Moving on to things more interesting, though…
Day Thirty-One – Device dependence and the evolution of language
I know, I know. A bit of a large topic to handle in one post. It’ll likely see more love in the future, but I couldn’t choose which one I wanted tonight. So I went with both ideas instead of making a decision, because I’m lazy.
First and foremost: I, for one, love technology, and embrace the knowledge that we filthy meatsacks called humans will one day be ruled by robot overlords. Nothing else to see here, robots. Just boring human things, like jokes about flatulence and afternoon soap operas.
Now that I’m done with that part, I have to admit my sad realization that I had today. Modern technology has too much damn control on my life. Okay. Maybe it’s something I’ve known for some time, but it’s a revelation I have to keep having so as to not let myself grow too comfortable with computers and shit. Just in case, or in preparation of when, they all just stop working. Or, you know, the whole robot overlords thing happens. The revelation, and why I have to use both topics tonight, happened when I was responding to a message on Facebook’s piece of shit new messenger app (you guys are the fucking worst for making that monster the way you did, by the way; that deserves an f-bomb right there), and my phone corrected Hell to he’ll. Completely screwed up what I was going for with my response. I typed Hell again, and added it to the phone’s dictionary.
In that moment, I realized I had just started to teach my phone how to swear. For some reason, I felt tremendously proud and troubled. What other foul words would my phone learn? How often would it be using such language? Should I practice the same method of punishment my father used on me and have a bar of Dial at the ready (thanks again for those fond memories, dad; I’m sure they’ll help me well through years of therapy)? It occurred to me that I would have a hell of a time trying to communicate with my friends, as I normally do, without the help of a shiny new smart phone.
My first cell phone was a Kyocera Slider. The top half slid upwards a little bit to reveal the number pad, and it was pretty simple to use. If I remember correctly, my mother was so kind as to let me get Tetris. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t play Tetris a whole lot because 1) I’m horrible at Tetris and 2) Tetris was horrible for battery life. Later on, with much bribing and begging, I was allowed to purchase a mobile Kingdom Hearts game…that also turned out to be a goddamn mess. Years moved along, phones became more involved, and payphones were pretty much left in the Stone Ages. And I’ve reached a point where I’m dependent on having a working computer and phone to communicate, to write, and to relax (not so much that last one, as I still read a good deal and sleep even more). I feel like I should stop writing this post for a moment, pull my pants up, grab the closest cane-like object, and shout at kids to stay off my lawn (by gummidy).
With the whole smart phone generation, a lot of people argue that kids are getting to be pretty stupid. I’m not going to disagree entirely on that. The YOLO generation can just live once right off a cliff as far as I’m concerned (please note that’s both an intensely mean remark and a suggestion). One of the things most commonly cited is the way those darn kids type and talk these days, and it’s a point of contention I actually disagree on.
I am, as far as I like to think, a relatively well-spoken young man. I’ve got a pretty well-developed vocabulary. I can’t even reread those last two sentences without feeling like this is turning into some sort of intellectual masturbation, so I’ll get to the point: language is not a static thing. It is forever changing, being adapted to fit the times. A lot of people complain about when people say someone was like instead of explaining that someone said, but I see so much awesome potential there. In saying someone is like something, it conveys their attitude, their speech, their behavior, and so much more. It’s a phrase that may not have been deliberately crafted for those reasons, but it’s the function saying someone was like ends up serving. I’m guilty of saying this one, by the way, and feel no shame there.
Text abbreviations are another big one. I’m not particularly keen on them, but they’re actually quite fitting. This is a world of instant gratification, and people want answers fast. Really fast. Text messaging abbreviations and acronyms, repugnant as they may be, serve this purpose extremely well. There’s even a joke about it on CBS’s Elementary. I haven’t said anything about Elementary in a while, and it just felt right. Back on topic. It’s much easier to type “c u soon” than “see you soon” (yes, even though it’s only a few more keystrokes and most phones have a full keyboard). Acronyms are where text messaging speak really shines through in terms of brevity and speed in responses, and I have to admit I’ve grown fond of a few acronyms. Like IDGAF. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Video games like World of Warcraft have a language set of their own. If I were to walk up to a stranger and start telling them how I just spent the day grinding dungeons so I can gear my character for more recent content, but not before I solo some old world raids, and how I’m enjoying playing an Elemental Shammy over an Affliction Lock, I’d probably get punched in the face. This is something true for many video games, tabletop and card games, and so many other hobbies. It’s almost like a secret handshake to say “Yeah, I enjoy that thing, too”.”
Naturally, in addition to embracing those future robot overlords, I also embrace language and all of its changes. I may not like them all (I’m looking at you, failed conjugation of to be), but it’s not something I can stop from happening. I mean, come on. Holy shit. The word selfie is in the Oxford Dictionary. If you can’t accept language as an ever-changing, ever-evolving construct, you might as well sit in a cave with your old fifty pound cell phone and speak using perfectly constructed sentences devoid of slang. See? I told you one post isn’t enough for these topics. Consider this a primer.
Sixty-nine days remaining.