September 17, 2013

"Honestly," "literally," "seriously" -- further mutations

An earlier post looked at the recent growth in slang words that loudly signal to the audience that you're telling the truth, worried that by default they'd think you were a liar or exaggerating. These words are a sign of how little trust young people have in each other anymore, perhaps also because they know that they themselves normally are not very trustworthy.

In the good old days, you didn't need to spastically wave a flag to let your conversation partner know that you were about to switch gears into truth-telling mode. But now that helicopter parenting has prevented peer socialization from proceeding as normal, the Millennial generation has settled into an unbreakable habit of exaggerating or lying as their default setting. Your nuclear family, guided by genetic self-interest, will always forgive you for being "the boy who cried wolf," whereas the other kids at school will ostracize you and give you an enduring stigma if that's how you act around them.

Given how recent these developments are (~ past 20 years), it's always worth checking up on their current status. They are not long-lasting features of the English language, but part of a thriving phenomenon, unfortunately.

I just spotted a new member of the family, albeit in a British context (source). Some weird dude in a clown suit is trying to shock the straights in Northampton. How does Twitter user Alex Wynick let the world know that he doesn't get the unsettled response of the townspeople?

Genuinely do not understand the fear of the Northampton Clown. It's just a guy with too much time on his hands.

I haven't heard "genuinely" in America yet, but just give it a little time for our SWPLs to begin imitating their posh patois.

Where does it go from here? I mean, not gonna lie, I feel like sometimes, I honestly don't even know how many more words like that we can use without feeling, actually-kind-of retarded. Right? "I authentically do not understand the fear of the Northampton Clown." Or perhaps, "I artisanally do not understand the fear of the Northampton Clown."

If they can't squeeze in many new members, they are embellishing on the ones already there. These words never had any semantic content for the utterance, but were more of a meta-linguistic social signal to the listener -- "Hey, be prepared, I'm going to switch into realtalk mode." So it's not surprising that they've morphed into a stylized tag at the beginning of the sentence, such as "I honestly I _____." They give a quick signal of realtalk mode, then they get to the meaning they're trying to get across.

Here are a couple examples of "I honestly I..." from separate articles found through a search of the NYT:

I honestly I don't know when military force is justified, I think the people in the military are treated very wrong...

I honestly I don't care what the government does. They are all grown adults and they are perfectly capable of making decisions.

Searching google for "I literally I..." gives a bunch of examples. E.g.:

I literally i was crying like stupid when i saw this !

Sorry Tamsin, I literally I thought I was the only admin, and the owner said I could share my page as many times a I like because it got hacked :(

Googling "I seriously I..." gives:

Okay, I seriously I have no idea what I am doing at the moment, basically, I'm just following the example on what's given for the exercise.

Alright, I seriously I don't understand these Thieves Guild jobs ...

These sound ungrammatical if you hear the "I honestly" thing as part of the meaning-expressing words of the utterance. "Honestly" etc. are adverbs, and you've already got a subject "I," so you expect to hear just a verb and whatever else afterward (the predicate). It's jarring to hear Subject Adverb Full-Sentence. But if you understand that "I honestly" is just a stylized meta-linguistic tag, it goes through the brain sounding acceptable.

I (honestly) wonder if another reason behind all of these meta-linguistic signals of the speaker's credibility, is the decline in face-to-face interactions among young people in particular. Or their stunted "emotional intelligence" even when they do interact in person. You'd think they could communicate the meta-linguistic thing through facial expression or gesture, and leave the meaning to the mouth.

Like, it's not hard to twist your face into a "joking around" or "to be taken seriously" expression. But if you get so little practice sending and interpreting subtle expressional signals like that, you might as well use speech.

Also, kids who get so little practice with facial expression and gestural modes of communication wind up over-doing it on those rare occasions where they do try to make a different face from "total apathy and lack of involvement." Hence the ubiquitous cancer of kabuki faces, from mass entertainment to portrayals of children in pop culture. Only stunted children with no experience make faces of such unrefined caricature.

Related: a post on the growth in slang words that show how suspicious you find everyone, everything, and every place.

24 comments:

  1. This is totally off-topic, but perhaps you like this post:


    http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2013/09/celebrity.html

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  2. The people living in the town are so demoralized not a single one can tell the clown to get lost.

    -Curtis

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  3. Or even pelt him with eggs, tomatoes, soda, etc., in a drive-by.

    Once normal people abandon a public place, it gets taken over by weirdos, losers, faggots, and other low-lives. See most Barnes & Nobles these days. Coffee shops are heading that way too, though you get a good number of higher-status patrons too.

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  4. I still like this blog, but there's no balance, no subtlety to your posts.

    It's all black and white.

    Half of your posts amount to: the 80's (and Jazz Age) are good and our current era (and Silent Generation) are bad.

    You've addressed a real cyclical pattern, but haven't adequately dealt with longer term secular trends its superimposed upon, nor for that matter, shorter-term cycles which complicate it.

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  5. I've addressed what I find redeeming about the mid-century and current era before. Film noir, Hitchcock, Edward Hopper, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, some Ridley Scott, Mad Men (at least up through when I watched it... season 4 I think).

    Not music, though, and not design or architecture. And definitely nothing about the social side of the social-cultural zeitgeist.

    I focus on the atomized and lurid nature of the social-cultural spirit of the mid-century or the Victorian era because folks these days seem to have forgotten all that. These posts are a corrective to that, a reminder.

    It seems like after The Sixties, everybody rushed to re-write the history of the mid-century. Some of which they got right (not as wild), but some of which they got completely backwards. Like suggesting that people only or mostly had pure thoughts and interests. Then you look at mass culture, and it's full of lurid comic books, lurid radio soap operas, lurid celeb gossip magazines, and lurid striptease / burlesque acts.

    If you think about it honestly, it's not surprising -- people who are atomized and have low libido will turn toward voyeurism instead of actually approaching and interacting with others, in order to meet their basic interpersonal needs.

    (They don't actually satisfy those needs, though, because they're fake. So they develop an OCD, treadmill consumption of voyeuristic culture.)

    The other major reason why we need a major corrective is that contempo culture couldn't be more worshipful toward the Victorians and mid-century cultures. It's everywhere. We need reminders that Art Deco was more fulfilling than mid-century building styles, that teenagers lived more wholesome lives in the era of John Hughes movies rather than Rebel Without a Cause movies.

    "with longer term secular trends its superimposed upon, nor for that matter, shorter-term cycles which complicate it."

    Those long-term trends have received enough attention from everybody else. And generally they don't show cycles (social-cultural does not, although political-economic does). So there are a variety of variables all trending monotonically over the past however-many hundred years.

    Women are steadily moving toward wage earnings and political enfranchisement. Industrialization proceeds apace. Urbanization keeps succeeding. Religion keeps declining.

    If we want to look at what influences what else, we want some kind of variation in the dynamics. But all show monotonic movements. With no big change in the direction, there's little variation to study. Did increasing urbanization kill off religion? Or was it the quantum leap in man's mastery over nature and new-found faith in engineering that accompanied the industrialization process?

    Impossible to answer, because when all movements are more or less monotonic, any variable's movements can be "explained" by movements in any of the others. Positive association if they're moving in the same direction, negative if they move in opposite directions.

    With cycles, you can watch them move more or less in tandem, perhaps with some lag.

    Shorter term cycles -- not clear that those are oscillations from the deterministic model, or just year-to-year random fluctuations. But because there's something other than monotonic dynamics to study, I'm up for listening to someone else's suggestions about what these cycles on the order of, say 1 to 5 years, would be.

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  6. And I do focus on the interaction between the two main processes -- the social-cultural (my main focus) and the political-economic (more in the background).

    For example, I've detailed in quite a few places why today's social-cultural zeitgeist is more like the Victorian one than the mid-century one, because the Victorian era in Europe or the Gilded Age in America also have rising inequality, unlike the falling inequality of the mid-century.

    Victorians were snarkier, more into perverted literature ("erotic novels"), more into "emo" philosophies (Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard) and emo culture (Baudelaire, Wagner, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood), and more over-run by homosexuals -- Swinburne, Wilde, etc. -- compared to the mood of the 1940s and '50s.

    This stems from the individual-vs.-individual status contests that spring up in periods of both rising inequality and falling crime (rising crime blunts or negates the effect because people need to come together to cope with more pressing needs of community security).

    The takeover of the culture by homos also seems to reflect rising inequality status contests -- everyone is so busy posturing and focused on their self image that they give no attention to policing communal norms. So all kinds of deviants are now free to flourish.

    The mid-century was just as atomized socially as the Victorian and Millennial eras, but it was more of an empty malaise rather than overt hostility of everyone toward everyone else. That's part of the taboo against one-upsmanship in periods of falling inequality.

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  7. That's really interesting about the Victorians. Could you write more about that?



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  8. Women are steadily moving toward wage earnings and political enfranchisement. Industrialization proceeds apace. Urbanization keeps succeeding. Religion keeps declining.

    If we want to look at what influences what else, we want some kind of variation in the dynamics. But all show monotonic movements. With no big change in the direction, there's little variation to study. Did increasing urbanization kill off religion? Or was it the quantum leap in man's mastery over nature and new-found faith in engineering that accompanied the industrialization process?


    Very good observation. Sailer wrote an article that dealt some with Prohibition, a subject that seems to be useful as an ax for short-term political or social points. No knock against Steve who was asking a reasonable question about Feminism, not exploring Prohibition in depth.

    I tend to worry that an enlarged state/personal-communal morality abdication is another part of this trend showing "monotonic" movement. Aware of the pluses and minuses of these developments within this movement, is it any wonder that civilizations are destined to rise and then fall?

    Consider in the case of Prohibition: the American Temperance Society was founded in 1826 in Boston. Historians say that in 1830 the average American man drank three times as much hard liquor as a man in 2010 (What does this even look or feel like? Especially when women are dependent upon men.)
    The word "feminism" is coined in 1837 by a French philosopher. People will bring up earlier thinkers from the late 18th century who are considered feminists which gets us to the Enlightenment which spawned the later progressive movements...

    Add this to what you said above and then try teasing out the causes of Prohibition!

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  9. "That's really interesting about the Victorians. Could you write more about that?"

    We'll see when I get some time. Probably the most eye-opening is how cancerous the faggot "scene" was back then. Google gay Victorian, or LGBT Victorian (put "Victorian" in quotes to keep it from telling you about Victoria the city).

    Another thing that will sound creepily familiar to 21st-century ears is how damned self-righteous the Victorians were. I'm more Christian than you are -- *I* have been to Africa to convert the heathens! The White Man's Burden was their Teach For America.

    Consumerism is a falling-crime / cocooning phenomenon -- seeking meaning from goods readily available for purchase when you are socially atomized. But it has two flavors depending on the inequality rate. With falling-inequality, like the mid-century, it's empty, dull, joyless consumerism. With the Victorian and Millennial periods of rising inequality, it gets hostile and competitive -- conspicuous consumption.

    Veblen and Durkheim are writing at the end of the Victorian era, as it's transitioning into the Edwardian or early Jazz Age ("Ragtime Age"?). Crime rates are beginning to go up and people are more out and about, so basic truths about human nature and human needs are coming to the surface.

    But inequality is still rising (through roughly 1920), so they're focusing their attacks not only on the anomie of Victorian life, but its corrosive status contests as well.

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  10. "Historians say that in 1830 the average American man drank three times as much hard liquor as a man in 2010 (What does this even look or feel like? Especially when women are dependent upon men.) ... Add this to what you said above and then try teasing out the causes of Prohibition!"

    If the level of drunkenness is reaching anti-social levels, like it is now in Balto-Slavic countries, that's something that men should be policing other men about. Some drunk stumbling around and harassing passersby in public -- give him a strong verbal warning, tell him to get lost, or beat his ass if it comes to it, preferably in a many-on-one way, so he feels that he's pissing off an entire group of people, not just a lone tight-assed pedestrian.

    Same thing if some drunk goes home to beat his wife every night. If her male kinsmen aren't nearby to rough him up, the local men should show up on his front porch as a gang, and give him a warning. If that doesn't work, well, further methods may be attempted.

    Leaving the policing to women, let alone mediated by a gigantic and intrusive state, turns the society into one great big wagging finger, one monolithically shrill clucking tongue.

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  11. About those high levels of hard liquor and drinking back in the 1800s -- I wonder how much of that was driven by a desire to get away from nagging, ball-busting wives. We have little appreciation for how drunk the men may have been back then, but we also fail to appreciate what nags and wet blankets the wives were during the same period.

    You don't see that level of segregation of the sexes, and antagonism between them, during the Roaring Twenties or the Go-Go Eighties. When women are more affectionate and care-free regarding guys doing their own guy thing, men don't feel so strong of a need to get away from them and try to blank out their castrating, suffocating domestic / romantic life with booze.

    Nagging wives and smothering mothers have to accept some responsibility in causing the very social problems they're crusading against.

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  12. Agnostic,

    I couldn't agree more. My question is why do these people go into this direction for solving this problem. It's hard to untangle.

    This sentiment got me into trouble with one of the commenters on that thread, but it seems to be just one. Still surprised. Also, in my anecdote over there I mulled over, and then finally opted to specify the KKK rather than generically say "some guys from the community" kidnapped and whipped an errant father and husband. In doing so, I was counting on the trust of the thread's participants that I was discussing the issue in good faith in return for telling the whole truth. It would have been cleaner for the point I was trying to make to have it be "just some guys from the community", but I felt the whole truth, nuances and all, and whatever it means needed to be out there for historians and lovers of history.

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  13. Funny, I used to work in Barnes and Noble. I saw a little of that - we thought some guy who was there all the time was homeless.

    This was in 2002, when the culture seemed to improve.

    -Curtis

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  14. "It's all black and white."

    That's the best thing about Agnostic's views. It would be bad if he was wrong, but from what I've seen, he really has worked out the right answers.

    -Curtis


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  15. In the good old days, you didn't need to spastically wave a flag to let your conversation partner know that you were about to switch gears into truth-telling mode.

    Veering off a little, the common internet complaint of having one's tone and voice misunderstood. In all my years, I've never been accused of misunderstanding someone, but definitely have misgauged an audience or person's ability to understand me. It's funny how with the internet we have to learn to communicate all over again.

    For some people, that spastic flag waving is necessary. HBD chick is a blogger that generously utilizes all the characters her keyboard has to offer to be as clear as possible with her audience. I do this to a certain extent, but it doesn't suit my personality all that well; instead, I'll avoid, say, being playful on a blog whose personality is serious, etc.

    BTW, is it just me, but for about the last 5 or 6 months, Sailer's comment threads don't seem to be the same. I've been a reader for years, but suddenly it seems the quality has gone down some and has gotten less fun.
    On the other hand, this corresponds roughly to my pregnancy, so it really could be just me.

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  16. Can you do a Cliffs notes post on the features of the decades since the 1950s, or going back even further if you wish? I'm interested in the social commentary but I don't have the historical perspective. what were the key features, what was great, what sucked, what decades are most similar.

    also, near future speculation could be fun...what happens next? what is the result of massive immigration, a fiscal crisis, high unemployment and cultural division, a snotty and progressive upperclass, combined with the spread of islam? what happens with crime? do we get a police state?

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  17. "Can you do a Cliffs notes post on the features of the decades since the 1950s, or going back even further if you wish?"

    I've thought of attempting that, but I'm afraid it would turn into a 500-page tome. How do you decide what's crucial and what's peripheral? Then it turns out a lot of those peripheral items are very helpful to see the different phases of the cycle.

    Like mid-century horror/voyeur comic books, OCD about feminine hygiene, in-your-face bullet bras, celeb gossip rags, Dr. Feelgood drugs, etc.

    Those all saw reincarnations during the '90s and 21st century, and give the flavor of how lurid the zeitgeists of both periods were, but would they make the cut of a Cliffs Notes history of each decade?

    That's why I try to collect a bunch of examples and show or mention how that area of pop culture or social relations has changed over time.

    Also, there are some areas that I know more about because they're easier to study. Pop music is harder because you'd have to listen to all the hit songs from the decade. OCD about feminine hygiene was easy because someone had already written a book laying out a lot of the history, and pictures of the old Lysol etc. ads are easily found on Google Images.

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  18. "Sailer's comment threads don't seem to be the same."

    Sailer's posts are fun, but among commenters there's definitely been a shift toward the cretinous, the spazzy, and the... what's the word for it. I know it from my old days as a populist left activist. How so much time is spent being snarky toward a common enemy.

    It's not run-of-the-mill snark like you read on your Facebook feed. It has this bunker / under siege mentality to it. People are so fed up with whatever it is about the common enemy that makes them upset, they have no outlet in normal life, so when they get together, it's time to pile on.

    But snark, sarcasm, and put-downs are not cathartic -- hence the treadmill nature once the ball gets rolling, to mix metaphors. People aren't getting worked up, angry, and emboldened to do anything about the problem. It's this hiding-away, talking-behind-their-back, broken record of cackling.

    Because it's not cathartic, they never feel any satisfaction or fulfillment from the activity. Yet they're constantly reminding themselves about how miserable the target is making life for them. So it's a recipe for instant burn-out.

    A group cannot be held together by snark hurled at a common enemy. If they want to do something about them, they need an angry prophet who'll tell them I WANT YOU TO GET MAD! And if they're not going to work on the enemy for the time being, then find some common source of joy to bond everybody together.

    New wave music videos, or Ramones music over at Sailer's, whatever it is. I don't trust people as team members who don't feel strongly about the kinds of pop culture that bond a group together. Even if their choices are different from mine -- maybe they're really into early '70s folk music -- at least they can fit into a group.

    People with a general deafness for or hatred of pop culture have a deep misanthropic loner streak. Don't trust 'em.

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  19. New wave music videos, or Ramones music over at Sailer's, whatever it is. I don't trust people as team members who don't feel strongly about the kinds of pop culture that bond a group together. Even if their choices are different from mine -- maybe they're really into early '70s folk music -- at least they can fit into a group.

    People with a general deafness for or hatred of pop culture have a deep misanthropic loner streak. Don't trust 'em.


    Ha. All you hear from those people is how superior they are.

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  20. The Blondest9/21/13, 11:20 PM

    "People with a general deafness for or hatred of pop culture have a deep misanthropic loner streak. Don't trust 'em."

    Well the three signs that a millennial is a misanthropic loser is that they hate Disney, hate rap music, and lastly wear a lot of black and old fashion clothing like a fedora. Many colleges these days have a gang of black clothed millennials. Many of them are fat or unheathly thin. They are all pale and pasty. They look like a steampunk (a millennial fad) version of a goth. Most of them are rude. Many of them are either hateful atheists or weird try hard to be cool evangelicals. They love Ron Paul or Obama. They do not read any books that are not D&D or a comic book. However, they think they know everything because of internet. And lastly, they can not live without their laptops.

    On Steve Sailer comment threads. His blog has just become a haven for alt-right doomers. A lot of conservatives including alt-right people are doomers. A doomer is someone who obsess about the end of the world. Most alt-right people are not that different from evangelicals who believe in the rapture. Both groups believe the end times will correct the world. This why they do nothing but whine. For the apocalypse is coming to wipeout the untermensch.

    I guess that is why I like your blog, and why other alt-right people seem to ignore it. You are not a doomer. I do not always agree with your ideas, but you are not some dude writing about the collaspe. Keep up the work, and do not go doomer.

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  21. That's the best thing about Agnostic's views. It would be bad if he was wrong, but from what I've seen, he really has worked out the right answers.

    Make sure you're looking at other sources though.

    E.g. how popular were the pulps of the 20s-50s, and were they really lurid? You need more than one person's opinion, or else you enter into the bizarro world where the 80s were "I Spit On Your Grave" o clock all the time. How does celebrity culture in the 1980s compare to the 50s and today? Get other people's views on these things, people who don't have a thesis they're looking for evidence for.

    Same for a lot of these things.

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  22. The link I provided for the celeb gossip magazine said that they were most popular during the 1950s and early '60s. You don't have to investigate how well they fared in the '80s -- all of them were gone.

    There was no hit reality TV either, not before The Real World on MTV (early '90s).

    Earlier this year I looked at the covers of Seventeen magazine from 1980-something, and one had an interview with Madonna -- the biggest pop artist of the time -- and it was only announced as a little blurb in the corner, rather than having Madonna herself hogging the cover photo, which instead went to some anonymous teen model.

    "E.g. how popular were the pulps of the 20s-50s, and were they really lurid?"

    I already linked to a TIME magazine article that said they were the best-seller at newsstands by the mid-'50s.

    As for whether they're lurid or not -- use your brain. It's not something you cite an authority for. "So-and-so (2012) notes how lurid / not lurid the covers are."

    Look over the covers I uploaded, or do your own search on Google Images. Some are worse than others, but they all have the same lurid, voyeuristic, obsessive character.

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  23. It's not about authority, more about being sociable and talking to other people who remember the period and research the period.

    As individuals, did they perceive themselves as anxious during the Midcentury Period or didn't they? Did they find life more meaningful? Does pulp fiction define it for them? And what do other researchers, not as authorities but people who've had an interest and looked into it, say about the period?

    Having a faith in people and an interest in people enough to talk to them, not adopting some clannish and misanthropic view where people are shut out.

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