27. Is Swearing Like Wrong?

Sometimes I Use Words Vneck:

You may have the vocabulary to know that that is not, in fact, how to correctly use the word photosynthesis. It never has and I hope it never will be. But, what is your one word? The one word you use as a filler or as placeholders for the actual words you should be using. I use ‘like’ all the time and probably use placeholders more than I realise.

Let’s focus on ‘like’ for a sentence or two. I use ‘like’ to the point that on the off occasion that I use it correctly, it still sounds wrong. Why? By using the word too often I’ve in depleted its meaning.

Now, let’s shift to a broader set of words. The words that written here would perhaps cause you discomfort and may even cause you to exit this blog and travel far, far away: swear words, curse words, cuss words. Whatever you want to call them, they are words nonetheless. Each of these words has a current meaning and the strength of the meaning is determined by the users.

Imagine this. You’re at a party and your favourite chocolate is there along with 9 other types of chocolate. If you don’t like chocolate, feel free to the chocolate with something else that is solid food. Before you realise that your favourite is there, you see the other 9 types. You’ve been craving chocolate, so you settle. They’re bite-sized pieces, so you take and eat one of each. You don’t like some them, but you eat them anyway. After all, they are chocolate. After chocolate #9, you finally notice your most favourite chocolate is right there in front of you. You’re overjoyed and still craving chocolate, so you take it and eat it. Sadly, the flavours of the other chocolates mask the flavour of the chocolate, especially those that you didn’t like. It’s too late though.

Too often we crave immediately expressing how we feel instead of patiently looking for the right word, the best word. One common case of this is the use of profanity. When profanity is used excessively, as a placeholder, it loses its meaning and becomes just another ‘like’. I think that there are times when profanity is the chocolate #10, what we’ve been looking for, but more often, it’s not. It’s what we use, because we don’t feel like looking for the right word or choose not to.

Using ‘like’ and swearing constantly are both popular additions to everyday communication. Making the conscious choice not to use either may be looked down on, but in academic and certain religious circles it may bump up your status.

Regardless of what your beliefs or thoughts are on the usage of swear words, you should be aware of your usage. If you really do love swearing, why take away the words meanings through overuse? And if you think it is never appropriate, stay true to that, even when it’s easier to stop looking for the right words.

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27. Is Swearing Like Wrong?

28. An Open Letter to August-2016 Me.

Dear August-2016 Me,

You think you can write. You probably have even admitted it out loud. It’s actually quite amusing. You’re not completely devoid of writing ability; you just have a lot of potential. If you still don’t get the gist of this letter, put potential in quotation marks. You have “potential”. Lots of it. You’re so optimistic and bright-eyed, but little do you know, in a month, the cup will begin to look less full and your eyes are bound to be tired from trying to soak in all the knowledge and heart that floats around your AP English class.

“You have potential,” a nice way of saying, “You’re just not there yet.” It’s okay that you’re not there, but even though I tell you this, I know you won’t believe me. Remember your audition prompt: adversity and how it may or may not prompt hidden talents to reveal themselves? That prompt will mock you for the rest of the year. This class is the adversity and those hidden talents? You’ll have to wait and found out what they are. Whatever you said in your 0th AP Lang essay is not going to be how you feel during the fifth or sixth months, but that’s okay. You’ll feel it and see it later in rose-coloured retrospect, and it’ll be awesome. So don’t give up. Have potential.

You think you can write. You probably even admitted it out loud. Ten months later, you’ll still think you can write. You’ll still admit it out loud. Not because you haven’t learned anything this year, but because you have. You’ve learned that writing is all about having potential. Having the potential for greatness, the potential to break and mend hearts, the potential to understand and relate to people. Potential.

Writing is all about potential. I tell you this spoiler now, because there’ll be months when you won’t want to write–anything. You’ll be tempted to give it all up, please don’t. Writing is all about potential and you have potential. Lots of it.

With hope,

May-2017 Me Who Still Has Potential.

28. An Open Letter to August-2016 Me.

26. We Need to Be Taught How to Stop Asking Stupid Questions.

“We’re raising up thinkers!” 

This has been my parents’ motto for as long as I can remember. They say it less now, because my siblings and I are finally becoming thinkers. What does it mean to be a thinker? It means ask questions, but not stupid ones. By my parents’ standards a stupid question is one whose answer you could figure out by yourself or through the resources that you have been provided.

How do I get my charger to reach where I’m sitting? Do I have to go to college? Both of these are stupid questions. The former because we have 213290483 extension cords 110 V and 240 V around our house and the latter because simply existing in my parents house answers the question.

The job of the school system should be to raise up thinkers. It’s fairly easy to regurgitate what we have been taught, but harder to apply this knowledge to new scenarios. Last week, my PreCalculus class was assigned homework problems relating to conics. As long as the questions were a mix a variables and numbers, we were on top of things. But then, at the end of the assignment there were WORD PROBLEMS. The questions were essentially the same throughout the assignment, but when we were presented with slightly different scenarios, we were exposed as pseudo-thinkers. We failed to apply what we’d been taught; we failed to use our textbooks for help; we failed to be thinkers.

The school system tries to teach us how to relate to and interpret the world outside of GPAs, but unless Agatha and James start running a race at different paces and times and we’re tasked to find out the time at which their paths will overlap, we’re very unprepared.

All hope is not lost, because if we’re taught this, along with how to apply what we learn, we may be able to answer more meaningful questions like whether or not two planes are at risk of crashing into one another.

To be well educated an individual must not only know the facts, but how to recall them in new scenarios. Somehow, the education system needs to figure out how to teach this. Maybe, the solution is to assign more word problems. But, surely, there is a better way.

26. We Need to Be Taught How to Stop Asking Stupid Questions.

25. It’s Time to Switch Your Locus of Control.

With analogue radio, and even cable TV, slowly being put on the back-burner, conversations about technological progress are hard to get around. Add the fact that children are now taking their personal tablets to keep them busy in cars, airports, restaurants, and really any other place where waiting occurs and now the conversation shifts in a more complicated direction: what affect is technology having on our society? To save you time, if you’re looking for a post blaming technology for the current generation’s short attention spans and need for instant gratification, you’re not going to find it here.

I’m not looking to ignore the data that has been collected by professionals around the world about the increasing number of recorded ADHD cases. Neither am I looking to ignore the fact that if an internet tab takes more than 120 seconds to load I switch to a more responsive tab, application, or give up entirely. Rather, this post is an attempt to address the issue that I think we often forget: our impact on technology.

In psychology there is a concept called “locus of control.” If an individual believes in an external locus of control, it means they tend to believe that the world is out of their hands and fate will lead them to their destiny. If an individual believes in an internal locus of control, it means they tend to believe that they have control over where they end up in this world and that they determine their own destiny. In relation to technology, I think that as consistent technology users, we are scarily falling on the “external” side of the spectrum.

In his book, Life the Movie: How Technology Conquered Reality, Neal Gabler addresses the fear of 19th and 20th century aristocrats and intellectuals had that entertainment would “ruin society” (quoted by Gabler in book, no explicit source). These observers, Gabler, and their contemporary counterparts have good reason to worry about the media that world citizens are consuming.

There is overwhelming evidence that shows the effect observing certain behaviors (e.g. Bobo Doll Experiment by Albert Bandura), but we have a choice on what we decide to consume. We may not have choice on whether we engage with modern technology or not, but still, the great thing about this big technological boom is that we have more choice than we ever have. We get to choose between thousands of musical artists, movies, and TV shows on various streaming platforms. We get to choose when we watch these things, for how long, and how many times–with ease. We have a choice and it’s up to us to make a choice.

I am extremely biased when it comes to loci of control; I almost 100% subscribe to an internal locus of control. Having said this, I do think that entertainment and other forms of technology can ruin our society, but only if we let them. Words on a page and pictures on a screen only have power because of the beliefs and biases we already hold true. If we want to keep our society from collapsing under the pressure of advancement, we have to be able to realise that the heart of the issue may just be our hearts not our phones or any other nonliving object or concept we wish to blame our woes on.

25. It’s Time to Switch Your Locus of Control.

24. There are 5+∞ Creative Languages That You Can’t Teach.

Dear High School Teachers,

Don’t worry this is not a letter bashing the education system and its related subsystems; I actually quite like learning in a classroom environment. However, I do find that there is a problem. As much as I would like to believe that when teachers say, “Be creative!” they mean it, I don’t think they mean it. At least not how I mean it. According to the dictionary of my mind, creative is “an adjective used to define works that exist only because an outpouring of a creator’s soul existed.” 

Sadly, there is no scale in the International American school system (which I am currently enrolled in) that can measure this. The scales in place only measure how effective a work is at communicating a particular idea and how much effort is put into creating such greatness. 

Though communication is a necessary part of human survival in the modern world, many of us youngsters don’t know how to communicate “effectively.” We can blame it on the hormones and the constant invention of jargon, but the truth is the reason we keep “falling short” is that every one of our souls speaks a different language. Some of us learn faster than others how to translate our soul’s language to one that is effective in communicating with teachers; some of us never learn at all. 

You can try to teach us how to be your type of creative by telling us to think outside the box and then taking points off when we accidentally travel outside the bigger box you forgot to tell us was the limit. You can try to teach us how to translate our souls’ languages by erasing the box altogether. But the truth is, either way some of us will take longer than others to catch on. Because of this, you can’t teach us to be creative, at least not for a grade anyway. In this time when students are constantly competing to see who can get out of college with the least amount debt, what is the point of a class that cannot be graded?
Sincerely,

A student who is yet to figure out how to be your type of creative

24. There are 5+∞ Creative Languages That You Can’t Teach.

22. Erin Hanson aka “The e.h Behind 50% of the Quotes on Your Pinterest Quotes Board”.

First of all, I’m dismayed that Google Chrome doesn’t think that Pinterest is a real word. Second of all, hi! It’s another day at school and while I may not be able to access Pinterest.com, I can definitely still think about it, write about it, and reminisce about the good ol’ days when the site was yet to be blocked on my account. In fact, I must think about the “P” that holds the coveted 7th space on my bookmarks bar; not because of any obsession, but because of school.

The beast that takes up 7/20 bookmarks, has found its way to my Pinterest life. How? I let it. This semester I have the opportunity to write a research paper that is related to Erin Hanson, but centered around poetry and its relation to social media. A month in and I’ve loved, fought with, analysed, enjoyed Erin Hanson’s work while having my heart understood and broken, sometimes all in the same day. Now, I pour my mixed feelings about e.h into 15 metaphors.


If e.h was an

  1. acoustic instrument, she’d be a grand piano because of how smooth, rhythmic and comforting many of her works are.
  2. appliance, she’d be a coffee maker, because her work breaks people out of their “sleepy” trances and is comforting on (metaphorically and literally) cold days.

If e.h. was a

  1. plant, she’d be a Venus Flytrap, because she’s interesting and powerful; you can easily be drawn into her literary world, but you may never come back.
  2. piece of clothing, she’d be scarf, because her work is multipurpose; it can be comforting, heartbreaking, laughter-inducing, tear-jerking, etc.
  3. day of the week, she’d be Wednesday because she often writes about tipping points and Wednesday is each week’s peak.
  4. type of food, she’d be a bite-sized chocolate bar, because in large doses her work can enable you to fall deeper into your pain but in small doses, it can be just what you need.
  5. building, she’d be a skyscraper because her writing style is strong and modern.
  6. word, she’d be camaraderie, because she tries her best to not leave anyone behind.
  7. finger and only a finger, she’d be a ring finger because of the commitment and care that she puts into each of her poems.
  8. shirt, she’d be a tie-dye shirt, because I think that no matter how many years pass, she’ll still find a way into another generation’s heart.
  9. punctuation mark, she’d be a semicolon, because as much as she may pause (sometimes maybe for too long) to look at the world around her, she encourages her readers to keep moving forward.
  10. word-processing application, she’d be Notepad on a Windows Computer, because there’s something so simple yet enough about her writing.
  11. type of makeup, she’d be eyeliner, because her writing works to accentuate, not cover up, what’s already within her and her readers.
  12. key on a computer keyboard, she’d be the ESC key because her work can be an escape from the busyness of life.
  13. hair accessory, she’d be a bobby pin, because as much as her work may annoy me sometimes, I’m glad I found it.
22. Erin Hanson aka “The e.h Behind 50% of the Quotes on Your Pinterest Quotes Board”.

18. We Shouldn’t Remove Poetry From the Syllabus.

Why do we have to study poetry in school? I don’t mind poetry in itself but rather descriptive writing as a whole. Anytime I have to read a writer’s description of the light seeping through a window or the sticky popsicle dripping down a small child’s hand on a warm, summer afternoon, I get a little annoyed. I can understand that different people write differently and different people enjoy different writing, but nevertheless, descriptive writing is not my cup of tea. Thankfully, I’ve been able to find poetry that is not so descriptive and therefore do not dislike all poetry. Sadly, many of the people I know have not found such solace and have been doomed to hate poetry until they do.

No matter how either of us feel about poetry, we can’t deny what it has allowed people to say. Through the years, we’ve seen writers make rules then break in acts of defiance, express their love fellow human beings, and their disgust for the actions of others, all through poetry. But poetry’s importance can’t be found in the fact that it expresses any emotion. I can make rules and break them on the playground, express my love through my physical actions, and disgust through painting. The expression of emotions is not a trait unique to poetry; poetry’s importance is one shared by many other acts: poetry allows you to “find [friends] who [are] so different from you, you can’t believe how much you have in common.”* It allows for connection through communication.

We study poetry in school because it’s the language that some people use to express themselves. Rather than eliminating poetry from syllabi because not everyone feels the same connection to it, perhaps schools could do a better job of making students privy to the other ways, good and bad, people express themselves. That way, when we eventually enter the real world, we’ll be able to understand the languages others are communicating in, even if we choose not to speak them.


*From: “Letter from Naomi Shihab Nye, Arab-American Poet: To Any Would-Be Terrorists”

 

 

18. We Shouldn’t Remove Poetry From the Syllabus.