As a communications student, I find all communication to be important. Even simple interactions and conversations with friends. The way we connect with those around us is probably the most important aspect of a relationship. For without conversing, there can be no development or gaining of knowledge about one another. This is elementary. I don’t expect this to be news to anyone.
But alas to my point. If it’s such a large part of our lives when at work, home, the gym, the store, church, everywhere….then why don’t we put more effort into the vocabulary we use and the way we say words? One of my Communication professors showed a video of a beat poet named Taylor Mali in my Rhetorical Theory class back in March, and it points out a huge pet peeve of mine. Take a look/listen/read:
In case you hadn’t realised,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you’re talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you’re, like, saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical you know’s and you know what I’m sayings
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren’t, like, questions?
Declarative sentences – so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true, ok
as opposed to other things that are, like, totally, you know, not –
they’ve been infected by a this tragically cool
and totally hip interrogative tone?
As if I’m saying,
don’t think I’m a nerd just because I’ve, like, noticed this; ok
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions,
I’m just, like, inviting you to join me on the band wagon of my own uncertainty
What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest? you know?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society just become so filled with these conflicting feelings of ‘nugh’ . . .
That we’ve just gotten to the point where we’re the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long time ago!
So I implore you, I entreat you and I challenge you
To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You’ve got to speak with it, too.
The proper term for this upward inflection at the end of sentences is “upspeak.” And I know an inexorable amount of people who do this all the time. It’s beyond frustrating. Along with making every sentence sound like a question, this generation uses the word “like” and “ya know” and “umm” more than basic articles of speech such as “the,” “an,” and “a.” We were created to be better at speaking than this.
It causes me great disdain.
I’m prone to these terrible speech habits, too. I don’t claim to be above it. Although I’d like to think I catch myself, and correct it on spot. The worst part is that professionals have this same habit. I can’t tell you how many pastors/preachers, politicians, sports announcers, etc. that are victim to this habit.
Here’s why I think it started, and why I think it is easy to use constantly.
It allows us to constantly feel affirmed and validated during the course of a conversation. When everything you say sounds like a question, or sounds uncertain in tone, that stimulates the listener to react in a way that basically tells the speaker, “Yes, you’re doing alright. You are making so much sense.” Which is all fine and dandy. It’s natural for humans to need and desire encouragement or affirmation. But allowing ourselves to speak in such a way that essentially “milks” the validation out of others is wrong. And selfish.
We should be affirming and validating others naturally, and without the upspeak tone of voice persuading us into feeling like, “Oh it sounds like he wants a response that will encourage him to continue!” Shouldn’t we already be interactive in our communication? I think there is a disconnect with humans, so the speakers decide to influence listeners to make them feel better by using interrogative inflection.
At this point I’m rambling. Watch the video again, and read the words. Realize the absurdity and lack of conviction in our communication.
As Christians, we need to speak with authority. And the author of that poem, Taylor – he isn’t even a believer. Yet I think he has a better grasp on healthy communication habits so as to revitalize relationships and community than we Christians do.
So let’s stop begging for attention and affection from others.
Let’s stop being unsure of ourselves.
And let us start speaking with authority, conviction, and love.
That’s how we’ll change the world for Christ.
open door church