Friday, 14 June 2013

14/06/13 - Pseudo-doublethink

Doublethink: the Orwellian act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct. As 1984 explains, it is ‘to know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancel out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it… even to understand the word 'doublethink' involve[s] the use of doublethink’. With this in mind, we’re going to look at some diluted modern terminology.

Yer what, now?
Well, you see, I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about the constant misuse of various words in modern times. Words like ‘awesome’. I am, however, an utter hypocrite, and use that word a lot, along with many of the others listed below. I judge people for misusing them, yet relentlessly do it myself. So in a violent act of doublethink, let’s look at this dilution in what some might describe as ‘far too much detail’, then judge ourselves for our mistakes.
…and then just keep on saying things are awesome anyway. Because, like, it’s 2013 innit.

This is the figurehead of the diluted word movement, a word that’s said by some people dozens of times every day. ‘This cup of coffee is awesome.’ ‘If you could email me that document by three, that would be awesome.’ ‘Mate, your shoes are awesome.’
The concept of awe is a rare and precious thing. ‘Awesome’ means an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration or fear. If you’re awestruck by something, you’re staggered, astonished, dumbfounded by the magnificence of it, unable to tear your gaze away. I couldn’t honestly tell you a time when I’d been rendered speechless by the glory of a cup of coffee.
You don’t mean ‘awesome’, you mean ‘really good’. Or sometimes, just ‘good’.

See ‘awesome’, but with an added element of lust and lasciviousness. Telling someone that they look fantastic, or smell fantastic, or have accomplished some act or task that is fantastic, is tantamount to announcing that you want to have sexual intercourse with them as soon as possible. ‘You look fantastic’ = ‘you look like the object of my own personal fantasy.’
Also, ignoring the element of sexual fantasy, there’s another slant on using this word; it implies that the ‘fantastic’ thing in question is unreal, inauthentic, false. If you tell someone that they did a fantastic job of putting some shelves up, it implies that they haven’t done as good a job as they think they have, that they’re operating within the realm of their own fantasy, believing that they’re some kind of DIY artisan rather than accepting the truth that they’re kind of shit at putting up shelves. It sounds like you’re taking the piss.
So, ‘fantastic’ actually means either ‘not as good as you think’ or ‘phwoar, I want to have it off with you’.

In common parlance, this is interchangeable with ‘awesome’ and ‘fantastic’. But as we all know, it actually means bright, radiant, shining with light. So when you tell someone that their shirt is brilliant, you’re really suggesting that it’s somehow emitting light to such an extent that you may have to shield your eyes. You sound sardonic. You sound like you’re making excuses because you don’t actually want to look at the shirt, and are trying to fabricate some biological barrier beyond your control to avoid the awkwardness of confrontation. You hate the shirt.

Young people say this. ‘Sick wheels, bro.’ ‘Your Tumblr is sick.’ ‘Tulisa is sick.’ ‘Sick’ means ‘good’.
…of course it doesn’t, you stupid bloody kids. ‘Sick’ means ‘sick’, in a bad way. And not ‘bad’ in the nineteen-nineties sense of ‘bad-meaning-good’, but just actually ‘bad’.
If somebody says ‘Tulisa is sick’, that suggests there’s something wrong with her. (Which there is, obviously. Many things. But that isn’t the point.) These mischievous kids are being deliberately confusing.

‘Nice’ is a slap in the face. It’s a word used to imply inoffensiveness, mundanity, a lack of any kind of impressive or noteworthy attributes. If somebody says ‘you look nice’, they’re saying that they think you look average, perhaps even a little bland.
‘This cup of tea is nice’? ‘This cup of tea will do, I suppose.’
Of course, the word originates from the south-eastern French city, where everybody is bland and inoffensive.
(Not really. It comes from those little biscuits.)

Much like ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’ is totally misrepresented in 99% of its uses.
‘That episode of EastEnders was amazing.’ Was it? Was it really? Were you gazing at the screen agog, unable to fully comprehend the true splendour and majesty of what you were seeing? Were you having trouble working out how your life could ever be the same again having witnessed this beguiling miracle?
No. No, you tit. You mean ‘that episode of EastEnders was good’.

A common offender, and has been for far longer, before fashionable new kid ‘awesome’ burst onto the scene. ‘These chips are great.’ ‘Great earrings.’ ‘David Bowie is great.’
You are saying that all of these things are impressively large. Larger than average, at least. If you tell me that I ‘look great’, I will push you over. Fat-slagging twat.

Not a diluted word at all, actually, but one that’s totally misused. ‘When I went on the Nemesis at Alton Towers, I literally shat myself.’ ‘When I saw her haircut, I literally puked.’
Think about what you’re saying, dickhead. If you literally did those things, you were massively overreacting.
‘If Jedward don’t win X Factor, I’ll literally die’. Either you’re a moron, or you’ve unearthed a dark side to Jedward that nobody needs to see.
You don’t mean ‘literally’. You mean ‘figuratively’.
(Oh, and another common misuse – ‘I literally just bought a pint at the bar’, ‘my mum literally just called me’, etc. Such unremarkable feats don’t really need a ‘literally’, do they? Come on now. You sound like you don’t expect people to believe you.)

No, this isn’t anything as grandiose as doublethink. This is just hypocrisy. And pedantry, and deliberately ignoring both the evolution of language through usage and the fact that some words have more than one meaning. But whatevs. Sick ’Pips, bro.

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