[There is a] general principle of internet language these days that the more overwhelmed with emotions you are, the less sensical your sentence structure gets, which I’ve described elsewhere as “stylized verbal incoherence mirroring emotional incoherence” and which leads us to expressions like “feels,” “I can’t even/I’ve lost the ability to can,” and “because reasons.”
Contrast this with first-generation internet language, demonstrated by LOLcat or 1337speak, and in general characterized by abbreviations containing numbers and single letters, often in caps (C U L8R), smilies containing noses, and words containing deliberate misspellings.
We’ve now moved on: broadly speaking, second-generation internet language plays with grammar instead of spelling. If you’re a doomsayer, the innovative syntax is one more thing to throw up your hands about, but compared to a decade or two ago, the spelling has gotten shockingly conventional.
In this sense, doge really is the next generation of LOLcat, in terms of a pet-based snapshot of a certain era in internet language. We’ve kept the idea that animals speak like an exaggerated version of an internet-savvy human, but as our definitions of what it means to be a human on the internet have changed, so too have the voices that we give our animals. Wow.
For those of you who like to fight the good fight for social justice and language sensitivity online, before writing that Tumblr missive or firing off that privilege-checking comment, I’d love to encourage you to take a moment to ask yourself these questions:
• Am I living my values with this exchange? If my goal is tolerance and sensitivity, am I embodying both those values in this conversation?
• What are my motivations here? Do I want to make a difference, or just feel like I’m right? What would “making a difference” look like in this context?
• Is this person an ally? How can I best communicate with them to ensure they stay that way?
• What is my ultimate goal in my activism? Is this exchange the best use of my time to achieve that ultimate goal?
In terms of my ultimate goal with this post: I want to support progressive activists in their very important work for social justice, but also beg them to carefully consider their methods and strategies with online communication. We’re fighting for the same team, here. I wish we didn’t have to spend so much time fighting with each other.
Please click through to read the entire thing.
I was just about to blog this exact passage. I’d love to know what “tumblr” thinks of this post.
EDIT: added scare quotes