The Modern Language of Apathy
I grew up first with books, but gradually switching to TV and movies as my source of relaxation for the day. I enjoyed just watching SNL skits, and just settling nicely into the sofa chair. As I think about how I’ve changed in college, I really see how television effected my way of thinking, I was a consumer, a passive intaker of information, never really having to think unless I had to hit the books to study my major courses. Now, I see how television has influenced America into a consumerist society, and my own generation has a shallow language, and greatly digressed from past human histories where thought and personal conviction were seen with great respect and honor. However, this post won’t be discussing the goods and bads of television on language, but moreso just giving my big-picture perspective of society as a whole.
Just the other day, I was surprised to find my youngest girl-friend (age 11) on Facebook. I realize that younger and younger people are using technology to communicate, but this communication often is not filled with substance, but the usual “OMG” and “lol haha”. I recently gave a thought-provoking book to one of my younger friends from home, and he replied, “I don’t read. I haven’t read a book for fun since I was like 6.” Even the books my sister reads often do not have substance, merely written to entertain. To me, I see how we are inching towards an unthinking and uncaring society.
Why are we so fearful nowadays to raise our hands in class and make a statement? Why do we now end our sentences with: “But that’s only what I think.”? There is a sense of insecurity and defense mechanism in our current form of language. I believe that is because we are also a society that praises patronizing and sarcastically commenting instead of really evaluating the truth in statements. The popularity of SNL, Simpsons, and The Daily Show, raps that make fun of authority figures are good examples of this. There is no societal condemnation in liking these types of shows; for the most part, it’s seen as “cool”. This mockery has become the culture of our modern society, quite an unforgiving place to be if you take a stand on an issue, especially controversial. There is a constant need to withdraw to mock others, and not be mocked yourself. This leads to a path of building yourself up by tearing others down, a fear of depth and lack of truth become embedded into our society. Many insecurity issues arise as people are afraid to commit say something that could be seen as a truth statement, afraid of appearing intolerant in a sense. Yet the emphasis on tolerance can often lead to intolerance, as people are fearful of saying anything that offends at all.
I’ve decided that this societal standard is not for me. I refuse passive consumerism, and I want to be an active speaker, listener, contributor, learner, and seeker. I want to determine what I think for myself through deep (mainly in-person) discussions with friends and others, read things that challenge me to think out of the box, and watch things with a constant awareness of the world view and messages they are sending. I will not mock, thus standing away from the actual content of the idea, but engage, deeply engage the materials I encounter, finding meaning in the language and myself.
This is from an article on the apathy of Western Youth: Even more in keeping with Orwell’s prediction is the gradual degeneration of the English language into a system of conventions that is completely devoid of substance or legitimate thought. Newspeak as Orwell called it can be examined in modern society through the development of “MSN speak”, the simplified and hollow incarnation of language used by text messagers and many bloggers. Reducing words down to single letters and numbers, and formulating conversations that consist of mindless questions and responses “Hey, h0w r y4” “not 2 bad u” is a common conversation (or convo in modern Newspeak). Seemingly harmless, this type of language removes the thought process from communication. How many of you have had this exact conversation on the phone or internet? Ask yourself: how much thinking is actually required to articulate this question answer format? Most of us give little thought to our text conversations, often relying on familiar text conventions to give our responses, eventually having vast message periods with people during which no relevent information is actually articulated. MSN speak is a language of conventions, not literacy. This adoption of hollow conventions has contributed to a mass drop in literacy skills among the majority of today’s youth. One is finally left with a chilling vision of a future in which citizens of this country don’t vote and lack the literary skills necessary to actively question. It is this passive and distracted society that will be easily swayed and controlled, gradually allowing their human rights and freedoms to be taken from them with little fight. An unthinking populace is a conformist populace, and a conformist society is a dominated one.