Friday, August 16, 2013

Fanboys crowdfund Babel - or how not to write

As with many and perhaps all phenomena, now and in the past, one does not have to postulate a deity to explain it.  Take the Tower of Babel story, for instance. Divergence in language is the product of the same laws of evolution that govern all self propagating systems and the internal divergence in the English, or should I say American, idiom can be shockingly fast since we model ourselves on the linguistic and economic babbling of the young and ignorant: those born yesterday and dependent upon marketing executives  and other criminals for language lessons.  It ain't God.  We did it ourselves and we think it's cool. Our pursuit of a cheap way to sound special has made us into babbling twits.

Take one headline I just read:  "Apple fanboys crowdfund a giant statue of Steve Jobs".  What?   "If a couple Apple fanboys have their way, a giant Steve Jobs statue may be headed stateside. The duo have launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a Jobsian sculpture to be built and erected somewhere in the Bay Area," it continues. 

Is a 'couple fanboys' an actual couple or does the hipster mean a couple of?  There's a huge difference, but hipness comes first and hipness means automatic rejection of prior norms even when it renders the statement ambiguous at best and meaningless at worst. Especially when.

Obviously the intent is not to inform, else half the words would not be needed and in fact words, if they are words, like  "Crowdfund" instead of public funding serve only to attach the writer to an exclusive group created for the purpose of synthetic exclusiveness  since the appearance of belonging to elusive and exclusive groups of trendy young people is the real goal of American speech - and of course spending like an idiot as well as talking like one. Then too, it's so much easier to speak 'crowdsourced' indiebabble  than to master a language.  Backward hat and baggy pants notwithstanding, everybody knows you're over the hill and bald  - dude.

Fanboy?     "Apple fans raise money for a Bay area statue of Steve Jobs" wouldn't express the poncy and desperately sought hipness of the paid by the word writer sufficiently and so we diverge into two species: English and Hipster and the tower crumbles.  Not only can't I talk to them, I don't want to.

But if being hip and trendy and edgy, if those words have a discernible meaning, means rejecting last Thursday's Cliches, then why is it still so cute to say 'shrooms after 40 years? That never was funny in the first place, even back when you were a sales clerk trying to insinuate some high-life experience with psilocybin  in the 70's.  Why is it still so cute to tell us you were talking about something that just happened when what you mean is that you approve and you weren't talking at all?  Remember, old jokes, old fish and geriatric hip talk have much in common and even the fact that we've become so desperate to sound unique in our conformist culture that we cling to antiquated mimicry of what the "kids"were saying last year or last decade or last century defeats the attempt to sound new and unique that our mediocre, uninteresting lives are all about.  New and unique, but just like everyone else.  How long will we try to work "not so much" into our speech?  I hope it's not as long as we've been wearing our hats backward or display our ass cracks at shopping malls like strutting geese.


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