The Watered Down Word

Posted: May 30, 2011 in Uncategorized


A word can be defined as: a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning. As I examine the definition, meaning is what my third zeroes in on. Since language is a medium through which we communicate, the words that we use are subject to thorough analysis depending on whether we’re striving to convey or extract meaning. Our degrees tell us that word is bond and bond is life. True indeed, at least ideally. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a very idealistic world. Words have become nurse’s needles which we use like jailhouse shanks to slander, discredit, accuse, and sting one another in an endless number of ways. What makes matters worse is that we’re very quick to detach ourselves from the sentiments our wisdom embodies, as well as the words themselves if we are confronted or accused of using them for a purpose that is deemed inappropriate. There once was a time when word was bond and a man would look you in the eye, tell you that he would do something, and you considered it done. Said day is long gone and if any person gives you their word relative to anything, it’s conditional at best. You’re friend might say that they’ll help you move if they don’t end up doing anything else on the day that you’re moving. If they don’t currently have anything planned and you definitely plan to move then why won’t they just commit to helping? It’s because they don’t want to be bound to the words by which they would do so. They want to have an easy out.

Another dimension of this topic revolves around the way that words impact us. We have become a very hypersensitive and needy society. Nobody can take a joke or insult and words that we used to sling around on the playground when I was a kid will cause athletes to lose endorsements and politicians to lose elections. I’m certainly not advocating mean-spirited language but there’s a time and place for everything, including the use of certain words. A perfect example of such a word is “gay.” This word, along with it’s neighbor in context “fag or faggot” has caused a lot of trouble in the media in recent days. Two basketball players, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, and Joakim Noah of the Bulls both had heavy fines levied against them for using the word “faggot.” Kobe directed it toward a referee during a playoff game because he was pissed off about a call. Noah directed it toward a fan who was giving him a hard time from behind the bench. Both players were extremely frustrated and in volatile states of mind in the heat of their respective moments. The basketball court is the type of place which is frequently overcome by that current of air. Competition among men is intense and contentious. If you get knowledge cipher men embroiled in physical competition the testosterone alone will cause rain, hail, snow, and earthquakes. I know this from experience. Profanity and insults are just part of the game because they represent expression of the intensity of the contest and a mental jousting match which serves as it’s underbelly and cerebral component. As such, I guarantee you that neither of the men toward whom this word was directed actually felt as if their sexuality was being called into question because it wasn’t. That’s just a word that men use to take shots at each other and attempt to get under one another’s skin. Regardless, gay-rights organizations take every opportunity to jump all over anyone who uses such a word, regardless of the context in which it’s used, in order to reinforce the idea that our society is inherently homophobic. The fact is, this is not as much a defense of gay rights as it is a tactical maneuver designed to show forth the power of vilification. They want you to know that if you use this word that they find offensive, in any setting, they’ll jump all over you and use that as leverage to advance their political agenda.

Conversation isn’t nearly as stimulating as it once was. The reason being that we don’t really have freedom of speech. Said notion is a mere facade which will lull you into a false sense of security when you open your mouth if you aren’t careful. You can say one wrong word or use one wrong phrase and if it’s taken out of context the entire build becomes toxic. On top of that, most people are so hypersensitive they won’t even give you a chance to explain or clarify your words. The fallout manifests itself in many forms. It takes longer to really get to know and trust people because you can’t be as quick to give them the benefit of the doubt. From a business perspective, you have to get everything in writing because someone will tell you that they’ll do something for you and then deny it when you call them on it. Additionally, you have to force people to speak in terms that would be crystal clear to a two year old. Even if you think you understand what they said you have to make them clarify it just to make sure that they can’t dance their way out of a given situation riding a wave of semantic debate. The world of words is a watered down cipher and as such it’s important to be mindful of who you give your word to and whose word you accept. Don’t take the perceived bond on face value.



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