On The Value Of Linguistic Precision In A Time Of Rapidly Shifting Standards

Maybe words don’t mean what they used to anymore.

Photo: William Murphy

It’s going to be a long four years, and what we currently consider excessive will come to seem commonplace, if not understated. Consider what we thought was extreme during the campaign and how each apparently exorbitant event was swiftly subsumed into the section of our brain which accepts things as unremarkable, only to be superseded by something even more outrageous that was just as quickly processed into acceptance. Now imagine how the standards and criteria we use today to define the boundaries in our world will be shattered by all the craziness to come once things really get started in earnest, with the full force of the law behind them. We are going to need completely new nomenclature to convey the meaning of everyday experiences, particularly as those experiences expand in ways we cannot quite comprehend right now. Many of these revisions will need to be negotiated in the moment, but I would like to suggest an alteration at the outset to help circumvent the confusion that is sure to occur as baselines evolve. I propose that we just refer to it as “drinking” from now on. Binge drinking is going to mean something very different very soon.