Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A way with words

How have certain words and phrases become associated with a connotation completely opposite or unrelated to what those words actually mean?  

For example:  selfless.  I hate how this word has become classified as a moral virtue.

selfless
adjective
having little or no concern for oneself
Dictionary.com

Selfless is not a desirable trait. You should have concern for yourself. You should have more concern for yourself than others.  Because the truth is...you cannot care for anyone else if you do not care for yourself first.  Why do you think the airline safety speech says "put your own oxygen mask on before assisting anyone else"?  You cannot assist anyone else if you pass out!  This is an example of caring for yourself first...and this is a moral way to live.

I was listening to talk radio today and the topic was television "guilty pleasures." Someone called in and questioned the term "guilty" pleasure.  She said (paraphrasing) "Why are we calling this guilty?  If the activity is legal and nobody is harmed, why can't we just acknowledge it as a pleasure?"  

That woman speaks my language.  


Unfortunately, the radio hosts did not get it.  They responded with a conversation about how their show is entertainment rather than intellectual and therefore may also be considered a guilty pleasure. They ended the segment by "not discouraging" anyone from their television guilty pleasures for fear it may translate to their radio guilty pleasures in which case this show would lose listeners.

They missed the whole point.  The caller's point was not one of judgement for what people are watching or listening to.  Her point was about the language we use.  

guilty
adjective
having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; justly subject to a certain accusation or penalty; culpable
Dictionary.com

Watching television (even bad television) or listening to entertainment radio is not a crime. Why is there guilt associated with such activities? Why is our culture so conditioned to feel guilt over any pleasurable experience?  I do not understand this.  (Side note:  this is one reason I gave up religion 10 years ago.  I am not a fan of "unearned" guilt...which seems to be a heavily used tactic in many religions.  I do not understand this concept so I'm in utter shock at how effective it is for some folks.  Sorry for the tangent, maybe I'll explore this in another post.)

love words.  When I think of my favorite authors, it is not just their stories I love...it is how their chosen words tell that story.  Command of language is underappreciated.

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts!!! I wish we could all like what we like and not apologize for it. :P

    ReplyDelete