Sorry that I have not been able to post in an incredibly long time. The real life boss is the hardest boss of all to beat…
In any case, I am back with a vengeance, as many things have taken place in my absence.
Today’s topic of discussion? Words. Or I guess more so the misuse of words. As an English major, words have been my allies as well as my worst enemies. I have used words as medicine in order to remedy situations, but I have also been known to use words as weapons when I feel threatened. Words are words are words are words. Until they are not.
Let us focus on the word gay, as this has been the topic of much discussion lately. I speak specifically to the use of the word in describing something as foolish, stupid or unimpressive. When I see it/hear it I am sometimes torn because on one hand I certainly do not condone the use of a word that is derogatory to a certain group. I also find myself, as an English major, thinking about etymology and the continual morphing and re-shaping that words undergo. I would even venture to say that most people are not even thinking of the negative connotations when they call something gay that they deem as stupid. They are not looking to marginalize or belittle people, but are in fact just using a word that has been given the stamp of approval by society. They do not understand, as they have not yet encountered resistance, that this word may actually hurt/anger some. They do not realize that they are in fact carrying a loaded gun.
Before you all run at me with pitchforks and torches, allow me to use an example and then make my point (real names and identities are hidden for privacy purposes):
Very recently, I was online, hanging out with a guild and some friends on a lowbie toon. Suddenly, a comment is thrown out into guild chat “Man, trade chat is gay today”. Of course they did not mean that trade chat was merry, showy or homosexual. When it was brought to my attention by a friend (as I like to have 6 whisper tabs open as well and I pop in and out of them), the person who had said it had already logged off for the night. I decided that it would be best to talk to him/her one-on-one rather than call them out the next time I was online.
That was quickly shattered. My friend went to different social media sites and posted about this guild being intolerant in allowing words to be used in an offensive way. This went on and on and on. But what was really done to help the situation? Absolutely nothing. It just ended up being a rant that riled some people up rather than an actual solution to the problem.
I talked to the person the next day about the appropriate use of the word gay. He was in shock. Turns out that he is from Puerto Rico and English is in fact his second language. Much of his English has been picked up from television, movies and what people say in trade chat and instance chat. He was very upset that he made someone feel unwelcome in the guild and vowed to never use that word in that way again.
My point: Words change. Definitions change. Sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad. What we need to start doing is educating people about appropriate use of words, as many people do not understand the effect they can actually have. We live in such a ME society, that most do not comprehend that their words and actions actually affect those around them. Sure, we can rant and rave, foaming at the mouth and spew hatred towards society. Or, we can actually do something to try and cause another shift. Truth is, if enough people address their discomfort or dislike in the certain use of a word in a positive way, then more and more people will come around and realize the negative impact the word has.
Sadly, I see more of the ranting and raving in place of positive action which is just perpetuating the negativity on which some seem to thrive.
I strongly believe in a positive ripple effect. People just need to stop crying and whining and demanding that things change on their own instead of trying to create change themselves.
Until next time…
Less QQ, more pew pew!