It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new year for me. And I’m…
I don’t generally make New Year resolutions. I usually just carry forward the resolution I made back in 2006, which was to learn how to play ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ on the electronic keyboard. It’s been eight years and I am proud to say that I have successfully cultivated the ability to open my keyboard songbook to exactly the right page, without even having to check the index for the page number first. So there. Also, ‘maple leaf rag easy for beginners tutorial plz help’ shows up on my YouTube suggestions now. No small feat.
This year, however, is different. This year, I do have an original, contemporary resolution. Three, in fact. They are:
- Do not use ‘like’ in written or oral communication unless required for the purposes of comparison or the description of a feeling of moderate affection or for usage in the idiom ‘like attracts like’.
- Do not use ‘LOL’/ ‘lol’ in written or oral communication, except in conjunction with ‘lipop’.
- Do not use emoticons. No exceptions whatsoever.
Recently, my mother most kindly pointed out certain inflections in my speech:
Me: “So I was like…”
Mother: “STOP SAYING ‘LIKE’, STOP IT, STOP IT!”
Me: “Lol dude, chill out”
Mother: *disowns me, weeping*
I’ve been using “like” an awful lot these days. I begin, conjugate AND finish all my sentences with the word. It’s been impinging on any semblance of communicative skills I like (oh God, there it is again) to think that I possess. For example:
What Mushroom Sup wants to say: “The blinding sun cut through the azure skies, and a whiff of waffles hung in the air like ivy creepers to a brick wall.”
What Mushroom Sup really says: “It was like…the sun was like totally harshing my mellow, dude…and like, it was SO like…WAFFLE-Y. Like really, dude.”
I don’t even know how to stop doing it. I know I should be able to, since it’s my brain and my vocal cords, but sometimes I feel like how Stephen Hawking would feel if his speech synthesizer went rogue.
What Stephen Hawking wants to say: “Eureka! The Secret to Life, the Universe and Everything is this fabulous little molecule that I created using general relativity and time-space continuums and this miniscule quantity of dark matter that I made earlier.”
What Stephen Hawking actually says: “Fart jokes, lol”
[Also, heartfelt apologies; that’s the closest I could get to Science jargon. And yes, I watched Interstellar.]
And don’t get me started on ‘lol’. I blame this entirely on social media, but now, instead of actually laughing when someone makes a joke, I just say “lol”. I don’t laugh. Yup, I say ‘laughing out loud’ but don’t actually laugh.
[Also, this is irrelevant but ‘lol’ looks like a the head and arms of a little stick figure man doing the ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ dance, while in the process of drowning. You’ll never un-see this.]
Anyway, I think this presages the beginning of the end – people replacing actions with labels or words describing the action instead. Picture a world with people sitting around saying, “walking”, “dancing”, “eating”, “selling soul to devil, brb” etc. This is okay to an extent – actually, it’s pretty much the plotline of ‘127 hours’ – but imagine the state of professional sports.
“Sprinting super fast”
“Laps you, lol”
“No, you don’t!”
But you know what’s even worse? Not even saying the words. Which is exactly what has happened with the invention of emoticons.
Every single social media website that I am a member of is always flooded with a barrage of :), 😀 etc. Sometimes I feel obliged to use them myself. “Happy birthday. Period” sounds a little bit curt, I know, and I’m tempted to put that nose-less smiley there just to…mellow the harsh a little bit. But that’s just the easy way out – I could mellow the harsh just as well with a “…and have a great day!” But I don’t. Because I’m lazy and a colon + closed parenthesis is so much easier to type, you know. Saves me a lot of time – valuable time I could use to squeeze at least seven more ‘likes’ and three ‘lols’ into my sentences.
We’re gradually moving towards a universal language. And I’ll admit, the world does need one so that non-English speaking nations can collaborate easily on massive international projects and the like. But do you want that language to be emoji? Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon would be accompanied not by “A great leap for mankind” but by “:O #amazed”. The famous ambiguous stanzas of Frost’s poetry would be replaced by “:S” (an emoticon that I do not understand at all). Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” would become “;)” and Gandhi’s last words would be “:/ Not cool, dude”.
So this is a humble plea to humanity: Don’t let words become extinct. Because that would make me, like, really, :(.