Why is it when I sit down to write anything for myself I suddenly acquire ADHD and find at least 25 things I must do instead of writing. Just now, for example, I was about to write an email and I had to make myself to write instead. If I hadn’t begun, lord only knows what I would have found to do next.
I’m making it sound like I don’t like to write. Quite the contrary. I love to write and have been doing it since I wrote my first “novel” at age 10. Short stories, poems, essays – as a child it all came so effortlessly. Not so as an adult. It seems I let myself get in the way.
Seriously, though, I suspect I am not alone with this strategy of avoidance and I wonder what it means. It’s not the blank page syndrome, because the page never opens to be blank. Fear of failure? Fear of success? Or perhaps just a basic fear that I have nothing to say?
Language evolves. What’s appropriate today may be rude tomorrow. However, when language becomes unnecessarily complicated, I believe there should be a buck stopped here claiming “Enough.”
I’m talking about gender neutral language. Our society is on the track to rightfully embrace all people, all nationalities, all colors, and all sexual orientations. We have come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go.
Enter implications for language. The gender-neutral language movement is not limited to one community of people, though the majority of its supporters are of the LGBT community. More complicated variations are out there, but the most prevalent example of general-neutral language is the replacement of the singular, gender-identifying pronouns of he and she with they, them, etc. So what’s the big deal?
Jeff packed up his lunch. They made sandwiches including peanut butter and ham.
Suddenly we lose clarity in what would otherwise be a perfectly ordinary series of sentences. Did Jeff pack his (their) own sandwich? Did someone else join Jeff? Do the two sentences relate or has there been some error in semantics? And so on – you get the point.
Ironically, I do “get” the angst of groups seeking to establish an identity and self-recognition. On the other hand, there are many other groups in society that do not request a grammar change that can fundamentally wreak havoc in our already over-complicated world. I for one not only balk at these potential meaning muddles, but also resent being told how I can and cannot use my language.