I live in a share house with more Disney DVD’s than clean dishes. I can brunch like a boss; I’ve had purple hued hair and I can locate the best booze for the cheapest coin in any liquor store BUT, I think my millennial status might be in danger of revocation because when it comes to viral vocab vernacular, I’ve hit seriously outraged senior status.
You see, I was listening to commercial radio the other day and was horrified to hear the presenter proudly declare Taylor Swift’s new song “the most savage song on the radio at the moment”. Yeah, yeah – I know savage isn’t any new term – in fact it’s become somewhat of a stamp that any unapologetic individual (usually women) brands themselves with, in some kind of bad ass statement that’s meant to act as an excuse for questionable behaviour.
Is it old fashioned of me to be apprehensive in the face of celebration, for a term that is defined as being (as an adjective); ‘fierce, violent and uncontrolled’. Or, as a noun; ‘a brutal or vicious person’ or as a verb; ‘attack ferociously and maul’. Is it something for T Swizzle to be proud of? Being likened to a vicious or brutal person? When it comes to the slang obsessed lands of social media, it appears so.
I can hear my more on trend generational cohort counterparts tutting at my literal interpretation of such a statement, and how it is so not what Urban Dictionary defines the term as. Our pal Urban Dictionary – the go to for all things terminologically two sided – top definition for “savage” is; ‘bad ass. cool. violent.’
Are we saying that it’s cool for people to threaten violence in the name of being true to themselves? Kinda feels that way.
So when Tay Tay’s out there inspiring millions of Centennials (the next lot of impressionable minds) – we’re celebrating her ability to be dismissive of the consequences of her actions simply because Urban Dictionary states that definition as the original slang interpretation of the word ‘savage’.
I suppose I wonder what is to become of our ability to identify and communicate in a manner that doesn’t become cheapened as it lazily masquerades as something else.
The way of the world is that it evolves; it changes. Words, the way we interpret them and their relevance are no different, but as we dilute them for a moments entertainment, their meaning cheapens and our understanding of the magnitude of expression becomes lost in a sea of casual conversation.
Maybe I’m old fashioned and unable to appreciate the duality of such slang that “savage” belongs to. But my disapproval lies in the depth that the term was coined. It comes from recognising that ‘a savage attack’ is not a proud, unapologetic, empowered act to stamp on ones chest. It is a trauma so severe, suffered in such a way that the ferocity of such suffering can only be expressed and comprehended in one word.
Perhaps it is the writer in me; watching words butchered for some fun – that cringes each time a new term is brought to the slaughter. I know context is key and maybe I sit high and mighty with a dusty and dried out ideal, but I’ll risk vocab evisceration if it means that I can express myself without resorting to minimal millennial efforts. Because that’s what it is – isn’t it? Minimal effort.
As much as I want to, I can’t blame millennials for striding down the slippery slope of simplified vernacular; slang has always been a part of language. Every generation has had it’s own interpretation of talking about the times but it just seems that in 2017, we are picking a much quicker pace to get to the point of communication. Why is this?
I guess for most it comes down to efficiency. In a time where everything is instant and time spent waiting is a waste, the romance of language is somewhat of a hassle when it comes to communicating a point. Why waste your breath on 10 words when one will do? Why even use one word when there’s an emoji for it?
The language that we use to represent and to define ourselves has been reduced to mere letters. BAE? Instead of saying; this person is my souls home. They are the source of my greatest, purest joy and my deepest, most rattling fear; for to lose them is the single most terrifying reality I will ever face. Nope, we just say BAE and expect it to mean the same. Does it have the same depth though? Is the declaration of BAE considered with the same magnitude? Is it harder to determine the authenticity of such a declaration when the term is mocked and undermined as often as it is proclaimed in sincerity? Perhaps we choose BAE as form of expression because it’s the cheaper version of expressing ourselves; saying how we feel without actually having to say how we feel.
What about savage? The catch-cry for the empowered, self reliant and unapologetic? Oh yes, that woman is savage. She is the embodiment of viciousness; unleashing an insatiable, harrowing hell-storm of terror and pain on the unsuspecting. Certainly sounds like something to be proud of, right? Words are always about association and perhaps my interpretation of savage is it’s most literal meaning. I hear “savage” and I envision an attack that is without remorse; carried out in a manner so ferocious, that it is against the nature of humanity. Others hear “savage” and they see trueness to self; pride and strength. My trepidation lies in the moment savage is expressed – through story, media or experience – in it’s truest definition and someone interprets it as unchecked sass.
The idea of presenting oneself in such convoluted ways such as more “expressive” terms, is unappealing to most millennials and undoubtedly, coming generations – because there has never been the need to display oneself to such an extent. We have the freedom to present ourselves in any manner we choose and the spoken or written word are no longer the only avenues in which we can express ourselves so freely. How we dress; what music we listen to; what television shows we watch; our jobs, sexuality, sports and hobbies all speak for us. Why bother with the eloquence of elaborate repartee or detail when it is only a moment you are expressing yourself for – not a lasting impression.
Maybe I’m past my millennial prime or I’m way behind on my cool colloquialisms, but I hope that this rant of mine stirs up a consideration or two. It’s unlikely that either myself or my fellow millennial’s will change our respective ways of expression but I hope someone might be inspired to change their communication every now and then when the occasion calls, to something more elaborate than an exclamation of emojis.
At the end of the day I’m lover of language and while that’s seriously so not woke right now, I guess I’ll make do. It’s just not in me to be so low-key about something that’s considered ever so extra. I’ve been harsh; some might even say savage but then again, that’s probably just my fellow millennials..