I spent 2015 growing up; doing what the people I’m about to spend 1000 words criticising would term “evolving my offering“or “pinging myself over to the next level”. I stopped smoking, got Psychotherapy, figured out what I want to do, created a disposable income and opened the UK’s first race hate theme park. Conversely, I’ve spent 2016 feeling increasingly disaffected, frustrated, disconnected, dehydrated. Of course, most of us have: Our truest artists dropping around us like fluorescent bisexual flies, while our country as a whole does the equivalent of storming to its bedroom and slamming the door – Its secretly unhappily married parents resiliently remaining at the dinner table, fighting over who gets to fly out to Sicily to flick the child refugees back into the Med.
Detached, disengaged apathy feels like simultaneously both a solution and a concession. There’s apathy that the actions of Theresa May and Donald Trump and the other rich wrinkly white people seem at surface level to be beyond PR repair. Perhaps the truth is worse still: That they really think all these things, “pussy grabbing” and all. Political deceit is not a new idea, and rather politicians lying is now seemingly post-humour, a tired cliché no longer worth mentioning. This, to such an extent that a politician who tells the truth is assumed a weak leader. Which is certainly an easier thought than an acceptance that the world can at times be complicated and sad.
So what’s the origin of this furious apathy? This state of desperately caring about how little we seem to care about how completely fucked we are? Our collective heart’s quivers decelerate as it sits faithfully like a pre-rescue dog, by a door behind which sloshingly patrols a potent cocktail of two rotted concepts. Firstly, our brutal, inegalitarian society’s numb, stunted emotional state (AKA ‘Stiff Upper Lip’). And secondly, our financially comfortable people earning money for our wealthy people by tricking our poor people into spending money they don’t really have on things they don’t really need (AKA Marketing).
The elliptic centre of the Venn diagram of stunted emotions and marketing is a rotten brown apple core. Or, if I were a true brand guardian, perhaps I’d say it’s not rotten, it has fermented, and grown cider-inside-its-insides. And not just any cider. Hand-brewed organic strawberry cider, made using only British strawberries picked by white people with Sports-Day-Avoiding-Limited-Company Dads.
We’re well accustomed to the disingenuous language of ‘celebrity’. The pre-Oscars-ceremony-eye-drop-prescriptions, John Terry’s Friday afternoon PR briefings (ironically delivered by a black lady) and the semi-literate-Chelsea/TOWIE-star-pretending-to-be-fully-illiterate-because-it’s-funny-not-haha-funny-but-it-stops-you-thinking-about-death-funny, and best/worst of all, a flatscreen squatter called Rylan, thumb and pinkie flesh telephone surgically attached to his ear, begging us to vote for something he just thought of. But the flatteringly named general public’s mundane micro-culture slogans are our latest form of devalued national currency. It’s no longer just marketeers trading exclusively in these unnecessary linguistic emotion-sidestepping tools, it’s now us, the surrendering consumers too. Just as we’re beyond caring about political deceit, the questionable values to which we’re taught to aspire, and our own analog emotional journeys, we’ve also linguistically yielded, been pinned and sexually subjugated by our societal master, which no doubt would tell us we simply shouldn’t have gone out in such a short skirt, we were asking for it.
What The Fuck I’m On About
Facebook, Twitter, and the news/sport websites are awash with these everyday-use slogans. Not “Just Do It” or “I’m Loving It” but “smashing it” “epic win” “game changer” and the like. The more subtle linguistic turns that have invaded the mundane, to divide and mutate, without consent, until saturation point, when they’ll be replaced by something even uglier, created by someone even younger and more stupid. (2 separate characteristics, not one mutually-qualifying combo). These linguistic horrors aren’t designed initially to sell. They jump above what is depressingly called ‘the filter’ (translation: A tank of humans, waiting to buy shit) to numb and normalise, to circumnavigate emotional reality and anaesthetise. (And therefore, disappointingly, ultimately, to sell, in that they’ve made marketing language an element of everyday life. i.e. Brought us down to their level, where they can beat us).
“Be” strong? “London’s doughnut game Be strong”? – I suppose the Christian (and thus real) God’s User Experience team discovered via rigorous A/B testing that freely interchanging the conjugated forms of the verb to be with complete disregard for making sense ultimately sold more doughnuts than sticking to the correct form. Is/Be/Was/Were/Am? Who cares? Who needs the correct form? We don’t need to describe time passing, we don’t need a past tense or a future tense, we’ll just live outside of time like Vegas croupiers in our clockless, windowless minimum wage cages. Creating (or being tacitly complicit in) a slogan-spouting-micro-culture that enjoys “London’s doughnut game be strong” in this instance is easier than making ourselves emotionally vulnerable, trying our best, and certainly more convenient than considering what the fuck it is we’re doing.
Then there’s “game”, as in “London’s doughnut game”. You may’ve heard “I’ve upped my pizza game” or “He’s got his networking game nailed”. I’m afraid I can’t start on “game changer”. There’s not time. I might die. For those disputing our society’s innate, inevitable sexism, this example is difficult to refute. “Game” seems to be in modern use following the Neil Strauss book “The Game: Undercover In The Secret Society Of Pickup Artists” – A bestselling book of chatting up techniques. Rather ignoring the point that the beauty of mutual attraction is the coincidence, the spontaneity, the chance element, the elements beyond your control, the possibility it’ll be forever unrequited. This book focuses on how to get women to have sex with you before they realise what an awful person you are, behind your unusually successful backhanded compliments, and thoroughly affected metrosexuality. It’s quite an achievement that this revolting, unthinking, macho bullshit has reached quite so far as to infect a headline on a “quirky” (AKA Inane) post regarding something so utterly temporary as London’s tastiest doughnuts.
Obviously, Black lives do matter. And, obviously, all lives matter too. However, a couple of problems:
1) The need to make the statement “Black Lives Matter” demonstrates a much bigger problem than the statement is capable of solving.
2) The white people spouting “Black lives matter” or “All lives matter” like they’re hidden answers to something. White people are not best placed to be the authority on the black community’s suffering. The best thing they could do would be to shut up and listen, to hear what sufferers of prejudice and historical and contemporary socio-economic problems have to say and to endure, and not focus so much on co-opting slogans purely to appear better/more political/less racist than their other privileged white friends.
Which brings us scruffily onto this speaks-for-itself monstrosity, from the Autumn 2016 UK school census:
Today’s final linguistic gripe is the word “exclusive”. Exclusive means excluding people, as in “It’s my ball and I say you can’t play”. When children do it, it’s called bullying. When adults do it, it’s called “exclusive”. Some companies still use the word (often notably those with a snobbish target market). Others have changed tack, as awareness for the problem with “exclusive” continues to be raised (mostly with shit, inclusive fun runs). These companies choose instead to adopt a disgusting melange of management speak and hip-hop slang, resulting in the thinly-veiled, social media pret-a-parler tone – “Don’t-bully-me-ne’erdowells-I’m-stupid-just-like-you-are”. Exemplified by the usage of the verb to drop. Which no longer means to drop something on the floor or to jump out of your window because you’re living inside the old fire safety slogan “Don’t drop, hang” (Now abandoned in favour of “Grab your phone charger and get the fuck out”). The verb to drop is now used to describe an exclusive release. Alternatively, how a desperate person describes their own uploading a low quality song to Soundcloud, releasing an ebook., or causing prescribed chaos.
e.g. (person) has just dropped this: (link) and it broke the internet”
So I propose that this miserable linguistic bankruptcy comes more generally from the collision point of an inability to express emotion, and marketing infecting the mundane. We now require a nonsensical code to reveal emotion/sound cool/make friends/be understood and show loyalty to a meaningless badge, be it a brand, a gang, or anything in between. If we speak emotionally and honestly of what’s in our hearts, our likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, anything related to anything analog, then do we stand to be shot down? Forever condemned to write 1000 lines: “My emotion game be weak AF” on an ironic, dated blackboard, to be shamed by a crowd of trolls, with ironically dated enormous pink quiffs and tanned 6-packs, (now known as “epic abs”) forcing us to continue the lines until we reach 1000, jeering at us, calling out troll-speak, alternating their attention between us, the line-writers, and them, the slightly darker-skinned, green quiffed trolls on the other side of an already burning bridge.