Saturday, November 21, 2009

When words eat us up

IN THE age of borderless connections, we celebrate disconnecting.

Around Christmas, the New Oxford American Dictionary announces its Word of the Year (WOTY).

For 2009, the WOTY is “unfriend.”

Explaining their choice in, Christine Lindberg attributed the new verb’s “real lex-appeal” to its “currency and potential longevity.”

The senior lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program traced the origins of the unlikely verb to the act of demoting a friend in online social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.

In her online column (, The Huffington Post’s “Friendship Doctor,” Dr. Irene S. Levine, observed that “the act of unfriending (or defriending) is part of the normal pruning process of maintaining a presence on social media… It's easy to collect more friends than you want or need.”

Levine cites possible reasons for this reversal of electronic affections: “if someone posts too often, bores you, lurks without posting, has questionable politics or ethics, says something caustic or insensitive, acts unpredictably, or even uses too many exclamation points.”

The speed of connecting and disconnecting on the New Media has left me— still does—hopelessly panting and choking in virtual dust.

I learned to text only in 1996 when the husband threatened to cite my anti-technology mindset as an “irreconcilable difference;” sent email without my sons-slash-instructors watching, in 2000; and finally posted in my Facebook Wall, without my 11-year-old teacher hollering in frustration, just this September.

As a blogdie (my moniker for oldies who finally create a web journal or blog), I use merely shovelware, having never uploaded material I’ve written only for the Web.
Yet, even if I am simply cutting and pasting my columns from our website to my blog, I still go over a piece I’ve already edited several times before emailing this to my paper’s opinion editor.

Growing up with books and newspapers, I believe the published word is a commitment.
Before passing on information, a writer must verify with many sources. To write with nuance and insight, you must connect to hidden, more difficult pathways: remembrance, experience.

Writers must do their best to get it right the first time. An error demands you make amends: apologize, correct, move on.

But for as long as a copy exists, a mistake can have a life unanticipated by its creator. Lies bloat and float.

On the Internet, hit the “delete” button and empty the bin. It’s that easy to trash. Or unfriend.

Yet certain online content is indelible.

On Nov. 3, Celebrity Nation TV uploaded a video showing Manny Pacquiao driving away from the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show. Beside him, an unidentified woman passenger shields her face from the fans and paparazzi.

After the Nov. 16 thanksgiving mass, “TV Patrol World” aired a footage of Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, crying and then rejecting the boxing champion’s embrace during the “Peace be with you” segment.

If you missed these videos on their original portals, Youtube preserved these. If you’re not wired, you can’t miss the tabloid speculation, the radio buzz, the roadside gossip. By way of different channels, the “Manny, Jinkee and Krista” circus was spread.

The more virulent of media viruses do not confirm before crucifying; they damage by allusion.

Viewers razed a TV network for airing the “Crying Jinkee” footage because, allegedly, Pacquiao was not part of its TV family. But the other network that exclusively aired the Pacquiao fight but did not air the Jinkee video was also panned for, allegedly, failing to live up to its company motto of “no bias, no slant.”

Even a learning institution was pilloried for featuring Krista the starlet in its infomercial touting the university’s motto, “Man for others.”

Given the roadkill left by videos rampaging on the Information Highway, another new verb might be handy: “vidhex.” Mommy Dionisia can blame her son was vidhexed, cursed by videos and not by his own poor timing or self-control.

Did I call it a verb? Perhaps, it’s a noun, as in a scapegoat. 09173226131

* First published as “Matamata” column in Sun.Star Cebu’s Nov. 22, 2009 issue

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