The tl;dr version of my life


See a fad? Don't follow it!



Longer version: try to resist silly trends that spread simply because they are catching on. Today that herd mentality is usually worth fighting. It has evolutionary roots, in that it helps maintain group cohesion. But those roots are exploited by mass media marketing, and made more extreme by the current obsession with being "modern" and "up-to-date" (so that if you want to condemn some institution, just call it "medieval). What was once beneficial is now mostly harmful.

Random examples popping into my head:

  1. We used to have a "method" for doing X or Y or Z. Now, simply everyone and his brother has a "methodology" for doing those things. The three extra syllables only serve the purpose of broadcasting, "I'm fighting above my intellectual weight class, but trying to hide that fact."
  2. We used to say, "That would be great." Then, some comedian or other started saying, "How great would that be?" Soon, everyone was saying it because... everyone was saying it. The thing is, this is an interesting locution if used as a way of occasionally varying the usual phrasing,  perhaps in order to emphasize the speculative nature of the greatness in question. Kind of like fish sauce in cooking: a drop now and then can add a nice twist to a dish, but if you just drench everything you cook in it, it is pretty gross.
  3. And please, don't use "tl;dr" when you mean, "summary." Since it is an acronym for "Too long, didn't read," it doesn't even make any sense used as a substitute for "summary." Furthermore, some significant percentage of your audience won't know what you are talking about, and will have to look your acronym up. "But," you may protest, "after a time that won't be true." Yes, but since the whole point of using "tl;dr" is to show how friggin' hip the user of it is, as soon as it becomes widely understood, the people using it now will stop using it, and switch to another shibboleth that demonstrates that they are "in the know." In other words, here language is being used not to communicate to as wide an audience as possible, but to signal to a narrow audience that the user is "one of the cool kids."

Bonus quiz: Why is that particular photo accompanying this particular post?

Comments

  1. Can I pile on a pet peeve: "utilize," for "use."

    Also, I'm thinking of converting to the more sensible British English rule for punctuation in quotation marks, so that would be "utilize", for "use".

    Photo because you're adamant about these issues?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good pun, but not the right answer!

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Good: but *why* Adam Ant?

      Delete
    2. Ant was a fad.

      Delete
    3. Ken, rob came through in the clutch!

      Delete
  3. 'We don't follow fashion
    That'd be a joke
    You know we're going to set them, set them
    So everyone can take note, take note'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. rob, all is forgiven! You've got it!

      Delete
    2. Perhaps I should restrict the range of my comments to 80's pop lyrics in the future and give up on phenomenologist philosophy?

      Delete
  4. Is it because Adam Ant used to be super popular but now no one knows who he even is?

    ReplyDelete

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