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This is not crazy

A lot of inexplicable, or at least difficult-to-comprehend things have been happening in the world lately. My various social circles are comprised of folks in various states of befuddlement lately, and the news does not cease to surprise and disgust. Things are so far beyond reason, so infuriating, so mystifying that it can be hard to expound upon the resultant emotions and articulate them cleanly. Often, things feel nothing short of crazy, like the world has lost all sanity.

There’s a problem with this. When I was younger, it was trendy to describe the inexplicable and foolish as (apologies) retarded. Even without judging rationality or logic, the word was a simple stand-in for basic denigration. Some time around high school, it would become clear to us what we were actually saying, what the implications were. Then we had a decision to make – do we live with those implications out of some lazy dedication to our extant lexicon, or do we grow and find better and less actively harmful ways to express ourselves? Can we find the empathy to recognize how dehumanizing it is to use our differences as terms of denigration.


"Everything we assumed about how people use the dictionary was wrong." (external)

Great article over at WaPo by Merriam-Webster lexicographer Kory Stamper. M-W’s live updates about trending searches during this year’s debates have provided an enjoyable (and necessary) bit of levity for me. Even beyond the debates, their social media presence provides continuous insight into the humanity behind our language.