Forthcoming: Social Media is Sincerely Awesome (Sorry, Aldous Huxley)

Good afternoon, friends.

Easy there, Chris.

I’m hoping to record and post two new video blogs later today or tomorrow.  One is going to be about social media in the hands of people watching the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt from afar. I’ve talked about it already here, but I what I think I’ll end up saying in the new post was inspired by a question from my good friend and frequent reader/commenter here at TDC, Chad Hogg. Chad is a supremely super-intelligent and thoughtful man.  You should read his blog.  By the way, Chad, I’m listening to a track from Tragic Kingdom as I type this.  I thought you should know.

In related links below, Andrew Sullivan makes fun of Malcolm Gladwell for the later’s agnosticism on the impact social media has had on the Tunisian and Egyptian movements.  Confession:  I love Andrew Sullivan and am a frequent reader of his Daily Dish, but I haven’t read the linked piece yet.

R.E.M.
The history of social media contained in an outmoded archival paradigm. Wait, what? Yes.

That said, you probably know that I’ve been very interested in this whole topic and have been following it across various forms of media. Something immediately apparent to me is my almost shocking desire to refer to news sites as “Old Media” in this discussion.  I really was just about to say that I’ve been following the story across New and Old Media online, but New Media is, by definition, online.  We’re realizing more and more, though, that online media is not necessarily New Media.  In many cases, New Media has become old media, and the unquestionably new New Media is social.  Twitter and Facebook are to CNN.com what CNN.com is to newspapers.  I think that’s becoming clear.   But the new New Media isn’t just new.  It is, in very real senses, a media outside of time.  It almost doesn’t make sense to call it New or to even call it real time.  It is the media of witness, and that’s what I’m going to talk about.

If you’re following at home, I’m now listening to the Ronettes.

Last night, I came across this very well-done cartoon that outlines a popular essay about which plausible dystopian anxiety (George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s) is more likely in our present and emerging future.  It’s long, so let me say up front that I think both propositions need to be guarded against (that might be the most obvious thing I’ve said, ever), but that I obviously can’t go all the way with the “Huxley is right” argument when it comes to things like social media.  (And neither should you.  Pesky normative statement alert.)

Needless to say, I believe in curating beauty and that loving things worth loving (and sharing that love) will actually make us better. Loving crap is something different.  Loving pop culture?  Like anything, that’s a mixed bag.  I love Pet Sounds because its beautiful.  I love Elvis because he’s singular.  I love “Sweet Child O’Mine” because it’s awesome and life-affirming.  I think the balance lies precisely there…do the things we love encourage us to live bigger, more fulfilling, more creative lives, or do they diminish the expectations we have for ourselves by their sheer size and repetition?  Friends, isn’t that finally up to us?

The other video will about about The New Sincerity. That is to say,  I think I’m going to encourage everyone to keep on being awesome.

Literary Lexicon: What’s A Dying Metaphor?

George_Orwell_press_photo.jpg

“A dying metaphor is a derogatory term coined by George Orwell in his essay Politics and the English Language. Orwell defines a dying metaphor as a metaphor that isn’t dead (dead metaphors are different, as they are treated like ordinary words), but has been worn out and is used because it saves people the trouble of inventing an original phrase for themselves. In short, a cliché. Example: Achilles’ heel. Orwell suggests that writers scan their work for such dying forms that they have ‘seen regularly before in print’ and replace them with alternative language patterns.” (Wikipedia)

We need to say the things we need to say in ways that only we can say them.

Do you find yourself falling in with dying metaphors?  Flee them!  Even if you’re trying to be ironic.  These are the among the things that drive you crazy about bad writing, so make sure you keep earning your right to be bothered: excise all those dated, dying metaphors from your writing.

I understand.  It’s not like we use them on purpose. We all know better already.  But they are tenacious.  They are good ideas at 3 AM.  They are placeholders for better, truer thoughts and more honest and beautiful images.

What are some of the worst overused metaphors (or similes) you’ve come across?