There was a time not long ago when Shakespearean English was the vernacular of choice. We beseech’d. We doth’d. And of course we twas’d and thy’d as we went about our day.
Until recently. And by recently, I mean a couple of hundred years ago. Something like that.
Historians would have you believe that the language evolved. That it matured to what it is today. But that’s not the real story.
This is the Real Story
It was the late 1600’s. At the center of town was a beautiful tree. Almost cartoonish in its simplicity. This tree was home to a loving little bluebird named Twither. People would come from all over to visit Twither and quickly share what they were doing. For it was believed that Twither would spread their message around the world.
It didn’t take long for the legend of Twither to spread throughout the townsfolk.
A poet and playwright by the name of William Shakespeare heard of such legend and set off to visit the tree of Twither and see for himself. While most would visit Twither sporadically, Shakespeare would spend hours sharing. Talking about his latest poem. Or a new play he was working on. Asking other Tweethers, as they became known, for their address so he could deliver to them a free copy of his latest work.
Low and behold it worked. The legend of Twither had come to be. But only for Shakespeare. It did not work for the others.
It was later argued that perhaps the devil was involved. Rumored witches were burned at the stake. But those who were there, knew the truth. And the truth was that Shakespeare dedicated more time to Twither. He met with others that came to visit Twither. He shared his talents openly and honestly. He fed Twither. And he never lost faith nor left Twithers side.
The fellow townsfolk began to copy Shakespeare’s Twither strategy. They spent more time with Twither. They began creating poorly written works of their own. If they had nothing to say they would quote Shakespeare. And day in and day out they would repeat the same thing to Twither over and over again thinking Twither would be more likely to share their message with the world if repeated.
And before long they killed Twither. Not by hand. Or by weapon.
But by words.
And so began the demise of not only the words that killed Twither, but the language we now know as Shakespearean English.
It was a dark time in our history. And that time is upon us once again. As we continue to abuse the English language, we are destroying what were once powerful words. Words that we have collectively sucked all of the life out of.
And these are the latest victims.
We are living in epic times. All you have to do is stop by your social media flavor of choice and you will be greeted with post after post of “epic shit.” Some videos, some blog posts, some well thought out status updates and memes as far as the eye can see. All of which are epic of course. So, while other generations of the past have had such epic moments as ending World War II, abolishing slavery, walking on the moon, allowing women the right to vote and curing polio, we have chosen a picture of Miley Cyrus dry humping Beetlejuice as our epic moment of choice. Bravo my fellow humans. Bravo.
I think LMAO, or “Laughing My Ass Off” for those that have lived in a cave for the past 15 years, jumped the shark when it somehow found its way into the dictionary. I prefer not to play the roll of grammar police as it would be extremely hypocritical of me considering my grammatical track record, but nevertheless I have a problem with this. One glaring issue is that LMAO is not a word. You can’t pronounce it. And you would never actually say it out loud to someone you are talking to. Beyond that, you are not actually laughing your ass off. You are only humoring me whilst pretending to laugh your ass off. Big difference. And while we’re at it, don’t even get me started on LMAO’s evil cousin ROTFLMAO. WTF? What’s next? TWSFIJSM?
I used to like the word passion. It’s one of those fiery words that get you off your butt. It keeps you up late at night running towards a goal. When you’re passionate about something there is no stopping you. It’s bigger than you. It flows through your veins. It’s something you are willing to trade your life for. Or at least that’s what it used to mean. Nowadays, in this “mine is bigger than yours” society, we have become passionate about everything. And I mean everything. I found someone online that was passionate about peanut butter! Peanut butter!!! Don’t get me wrong. Peanut butter is awesome. You could put peanut butter on an old shoe and if no one is looking, I would probably give it a taste. But to say you are passionate about peanut butter? Doesn’t leave much room for the stuff that actually matters, does it?
Anything Ending in “Preneur”
Entrepreneur, Leaderpreneur, Mompreneur, Solopreneur, Micropreneur and on and on. We get it. Adding “preneur” after whatever it is that you do will add instant credibility. The right dose of “too cool for the room” that you’ve been searching for. Well, you’ve found it. Along with what appears to be 80% of the Internet. The rest of us are no longer impressed by your made up little title. We’re not falling for it. We’re not impressed by it. And quite frankly, we’re tired of hearing it. In fact, we all got together on this while you were not looking and agreed that you sound a bit like a douchebagprenuer.
Someone in a cubicle far far away decided in some grand stroke of genius that I was a “Red Bull Influencer.” It doesn’t matter that I’ve never talked about Red Bull publicly. Or the fact that I have never even tried a Red Bull. yet, somehow I had the ability to influence people enough to receive free Red Bull* in the mail. But that shows you how weak the word influencer has become. Have a Facebook page? You must be an influencer! Have more than 150 followers on Twitter? Influencer! It’s gotten to the point where the best way to not influence people is to be an influencer!
* Full disclosure: I shook up my free Red Bulls and threw them off my building to watch them explode. They did. It was fun. I highly recommend taking free Red Bull and tossing them off a building and watching them explode. On second thought, maybe that’s not a good idea. Forget I said that. I’m a bad influencer. No more free Red Bull for me.
I don’t like the word followers. It wreaks of ego. Something we could use a little less of online. But that’s not really why I don’t like it. The word followers creates a one sided conversation. It implies that those in your community are nothing more than sheeple, but on Twitter. I guess that would make them Shitters? Anyway, the fact that your followers are human beings gets lost in the status that comes with how many you have. They have become nothing more than a number. A badge of honor. And we don’t like being treated like numbers. Maybe if you saw them as members of your digital family, you wouldn’t be so quick to shove links down their throats. You might listen more. Perhaps be more responsive to what they needed and less worried about what you needed. You might actually know their names. Or what their interests were. You would realize how much more valuable each individual is than just another follower.
And There You Have It Folks
A History lesson and an English lesson all rolled into one! But it doesn’t end here. Oh no.
I’m sure there are more that I am either too tired or too lazy to think of right now. Or worse…I use them myself! So, now it’s your turn. What are some of the words that you feel have had the life sucked out of them? Do the world a favor and include them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to have them removed from the Internet.
Bonus points if they are words that I use on a regular basis!
Featured image courtesy of Mateusz Łapsa-Malawski licensed via Creative Commons.