i am a good idea.

LOL this and LMFAO that

This is a quote from HBO’s Californication – it’s from a 2007 episode called “LOL,” but I’m new to the series, so last night was the first time I saw it:

Hank Moody: You know, I mean we have all this amazing technology and yet computers have turned into basically four figure wank machines. The internet was supposed to set us free, democratize us, but all it’s really given us is Howard Dean’s aborted candidacy and 24 hour a day access to kiddie porn. People… they don’t write anymore, they blog. Instead of talking, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. You know, it just seems to me it’s just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people at a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King’s English.
Radio show host: Yet you’re part of the problem, I mean you’re out there blogging with the best of them.
Hank Moody: Hence my self-loathing.

There are many people who share similar sentiments.

I don’t agree, though. Sure, I think in some regards we have gotten a bit dumber from technology, because inherently technology makes a task easier, makes us work less, think less.


But if there’s one thing we’ve evolved on, it’s communication. We’ve made it easy, instantaneous. Speaking “the King’s English” doesn’t denote intelligence; language is an ever-evolving thing, and it makes evolutionary sense that, with the tools and technology available to us today, we simplify our vernacular. Just because someone says “c u l8r” in a text or Tweet doesn’t mean they’re ignorant, it just means they have a message they want to get out quickly, efficiently. The focus isn’t WHAT the message is anymore — a verbose love letter —  it’s HOW (and how often) the message is — a morning “<3 you” text message.

What do you think? Reverse evolution or communication revolution?

8 Responses to “LOL this and LMFAO that”

  1. kkreft says:

    I have to say that I disagree – not with the idea that shorthand English denotes stupidity, but with the idea that we aren’t dumbing things down.
    Correct spelling doesn’t seem to matter to people anymore. Their, they’re and there are used interchangably. Apostrophes are one of the most misused punctuation marks in existence. This stuff isn’t that hard – you just have to care, and no one does any more.
    That, and… I still maintain that using “I’ma” as a contraction of “I’m gonna” (which is, by the way, an abbreviated colloquialistic version of “I’m going to”) makes you sound like a dumbass.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Hey Karin – I’m a recovering Professional Writing major and grammar Nazi extraordinaire, and thus completely get where you’re coming from… BUT just because there has always been three “there”s doesn’t mean we NEED three “there”s, you know? “I’ma” only makes someone soundlike a dumbass if the current audience doesn’t say “Imma.” The specifics of a person’s speech are all about their background and education, etc – but that’s a whole different blog.

    I guess my point is – just because we were taught a certain kind of speech is proper, certainly doesn’t mean that is always going to be what society considers proper. Language evolves to fit our needs. Microsoft Office 2008 still doesn’t recognize “blog” as a word.

    Does that make sense?

  3. Dave Watts says:

    I have thoughts on both sides of this topic. First I agree that communicating with a shorthand of some type isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. The written language of all societies evolves over time. Just look at Chinese, how many different forms has it take over the centuries?

    However, I do feel that true communication is a dieing art. I’m not talking about just writing or saying words. I’m talking about the true process of speaking and listening. Reading other peoples informed opinions and really thinking about how those opinions affect you. There is constant evidence that people just don’t desire to listen, debate and be willing to change their viewpoints based on facts. Just look at the recent uproar at townhall meetings on a national health care plan. Dems seem to want to ramrod a health care plan come hell or high water and conservatives don’t want to offer any helpful modifications, they just want to shout it down. Productive eh?

  4. kkreft says:

    Language does evolve. But there is an actual REASON why there, their, and they’re are spelled differently – it’s because they have different meanings. There is a location, their shows ownership, they’re is a contraction of they are. Just because they sound similar doesn’t mean they’re the same. When you use the wrong one, it shows that you’re not thinking. About the words or their meanings.

    And that, is really the point. If you’re not thinking, you’re by definition, being stupid: “characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness.”

    So, I find, the question becomes: what does it say about you if you use poor language? I believe it indicates a disregard for how one appears. Just as those who use ten-dollar words all the time can be seen as uncaring of truly communicating (because they aren’t using language that’s easily understood), those using poor language appear unwilling to expend any kind of mental effort in their communication.

    “I’ma” is a worse example. While it is simply mental laziness at this time, it has the potential to become common usage. And because it’s shorthand of the shorthand, “I’m gonna,” once it becomes common usage, it will make understanding the meaning – why the word means what it means – even more difficult.

    If we don’t rein in our language, someday we may be speaking in nothing but shorthand and metaphor. And the last thing I want is to have to say, “Darmak and Jalad at Tanagra,” and hope the meaning is clear.

  5. I’m with you Cheryl. Spell Check has ruined me for life!

  6. […] LOL this and LMFAO that Have new communication tools made us stupid? […]

  7. David says:

    I accept the argument that language evolves over time (or devolves), but there’s something deeper here that I felt Hank Moody was getting at – not the language or grammar but the very nature of communication. We’re communicating more but EXPRESSING ourselves less!

  8. James says:

    Cheryl: “just because there has always been three “there”s doesn’t mean we NEED three “there”s, you know?”
    Uh, there aren’t “three there’s” – “there”, “their”, and “they’re” are three different words with separate meanings. We need all three, because all three mean different things.

    Just to clarify, “there” refers to a place (i.e. not here, but there), “their” means “belonging to them” (e.g. that’s their opinion) and “they’re” is a contraction of “they are”.

    So no, it doesn’t make sense to have one word to apply to all three, and it really isn’t that hard to get it right either, people just need to be better educated and not so lazy.

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