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Our Changing Times

February 15, 2020

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A delightful winter day has unfolded across Wisconsin.  Snow and bitter cold were felt by most of the state this week but sunshine and warming temps today make any window you sit by a reason to smile.  While reading this week’s magazines (with mugs of coffee) it struck me not only how the recent headlines change and stories evolve but also how much we, as a country, are changing.

As noted in a letter to the editor in The Economist “a recent survey found that a third of millennial dads do not even own a hammer.”  Meanwhile, in Time the Conversation column is nothing more than a few words from tweets by readers which allows us the chance to read a selected phrase of their thoughts. The British publication, it should be noted, devoted a full page to letters.

The truncated style of writing is troubling for two reasons.  Most people are not adept at using a limited number of words to convey a thought.  ( I know how creating headlines for blog posts takes more than a fleeting thought, as an example.)  Secondly, most readers of magazines wish to have a broader perspective than that which is contained in a tweet.   Time wants to be ‘modern’ and meet readers ‘where they are’ as opposed to The Economist which values a readership who desires well-crafted sentences and fleshed-out ideas.

And then there was this large-font statement in an advertisement for Oatly Oat Milk.

“This tastes like (expletive)! Blah!”

In The New Yorker (page 13) appeared what I am seeing more and more.  The allowance for words that not so long ago would not have been permitted in these types of publications.  I am not the word police, or nor want to be one.  But there is a lowering of standards and foundations that do catch my attention and concerns me.

Words matter and how they are used does reflect on the person using them.  Trash talk just gives the perception of a lower-educated and less serious-minded person.  That is true if on the printed page of a magazine or made by the leader of a nation.

Perhaps there is marketing that shows younger demographics will try oat milk because it used an advertising gimmick.  But those of us who have a hammer in the house, and know how to use it, understand the necessity of drinking cows milk for muscles and good health.

And choosing word usage that reflects well on who we are.

And so it goes.

(Now get off my lawn…)

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