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Truth Social. Just Sayin’

BFF alerted me that Trump was launching Truth Social this weekend. It’s in the iPhone App Store.

Not sure what they were thinking. iPhone users are coastal elites. We’re the last people who would want to download any Trump related app on our phones. (I’m not saying ALL android users would want it. I’m saying there are more android users who will want it.)

Anyway. It doesn’t work. They plan to have it completely operational by the end of March. Right now, you get put on a waiting list to get an account after you sign up. I might be conspiratorial here but what are the chances that a prospective account holder gets a quick background check to make sure they’re not Democrats or socialists or commies? (Note that these are separate affiliations. I know, but this distinction tends to go right over some peoples’ heads.)

Doesn’t apple have standards for what goes in the App Store? How much do you want to bet that it will eventually have “in app purchases”? Let’s say that the account waiting list thing is not a screening feature, does it make sense to allow an app creator to do end to end user acceptance testing during product launch? Have they addressed all the vulnerabilities out there? Do they request access to your location data? I only ask.

Here’s the thing about Truth Social that creeps me out. The entities that use the “truth” thing to death are high control religious groups. Like the Mormons (sorry, LDS. 🙄). And Jehovah’s Witnesses. To belong to those churches, you not only have to believe in 6 impossible things before breakfast, you spend most of your time validating your belief in the “truth” with other followers. “I know the church is true and here is my testimony.” Or just watch the “sisters” and “brothers” clump together during the (all too short) break between meetings on Sunday, talking about where they were when they discovered “the truth”. They never ever get tired of talking about it. It’s more important to them that the actual “truth”.

Funny, if they really listened to each other, they might figure out the pattern of actions and behaviors that got them roped into the “truth” in the first place but their introspection and analysis never gets that far. Does the “truth” truncate your ability to figure this out or do the “truth” bequeathers seek out people who are the least likely to question them?

I think it’s because they know that they are being asked to believe impossible things and they are constantly seeking validation for their commitment to believe impossible things that they ask each other over and over again to describe their conversions. These church followers are so focused on evangelism because they won’t feel completely validated if there are still people out there that can challenge the “truth” and don’t have their own conversion story.

The truthfulness of the “truth” doesn’t matter. What matters is that they stay in their bubble and don’t let outsiders mess with their heads by challenging their worldview. It makes them feel anxious. Like maybe they’ve been in the club too long and outsiders make them start to realize how ridiculous they sound.

Maybe they need to keep just enough MAGA heads in the bubble just long enough. Giving them Truth Social allows them to discuss their conversion stories and keep distrust of outsiders at a fever pitch.

Lol! I just looked at the description for Truth Social. What it looks like is a misinformation site that takes the user down a rabbit hole created by the most experienced conspiracy theorists, propagandists and psyops specialists. Once they have your profile, the “truth” will be meticulously tailored to your most disturbing shadow. It’s going to have all the misinformation talking points and buzz words without the charm of the Facebook user interface. Does apple have a misinformation policy? Hmmm. We’re about to find out.

If I were Trump, I wouldn’t have gone with the apple App Store to launch this. Sure, apple wants to make a buck like anyone else and once you decide to get into the apple universe of products, you’re kind of hooked for life. It’s another sort of high control group that just happens to feature the sleekest, highest quality, most enviable high tech toys out there and we all stand around talking about the first time we ever used a mouse or saw our first flying toaster screen saver. It’s not like we don’t know what we’re doing. We can quit whenever we want to. We just don’t want to. (I’m still available to do product endorsements in exchange for a new MacBook Pro for me to review. My old MacBook Pro is 11 years old. 😢 Call me.)

It’s just that we are the least likely audience for a location tracking, access seeking, buggy app that’s going to want credit card information (you know it’s coming) in order to unlock the super secret “truth” when we can get all the “truth” conspiracy theories we can eat from QAnon for free! Emphasis on “con”. It would be like hanging a Christmas tree air freshener on the rear view mirror of a Tesla.

And we apple nerds are unlikely to do that. But the minute one of us manages to get in, queue the app reviews. They’re going to be worth the price of a new iPhone 13.

Revenge of the Words

The Wordle enthusiasm (I would not deign to call it a craze) is fascinating, as it shines a light on something which understandably does not get much coverage, since it is about the declining vocabularies of Americans. ( I don’t know how it is in the rest of the world, but I would guess fairly similar).

Yesterday’s Wordle word (they have a new one every day, so unless one has been saving them up, it does not seem wrong to mention them the day after, so here it comes), was “tacit.”

Now, I am guessing that almost everyone who visits here knows that word. And if you did not, I am glad that you made the effort to play the game, and thus learn new words. That is always a plus for a person, wanting to learn new things. And I am not saying that I know all the English words, either, though I think I know most of them. I didn’t strive to do this, I just loved to read, and so learned many words, and I was always excited to find a new one.

I loved to read books, and read at a very young age. I wasn’t John Stuart Mill, who apparently learned Greek and Latin at age six or so. I just read Uncle Wiggily books, and Burgess animal stories, and Winnie-the-Pooh; and then adventure stories like “Treasure Island,” and “The Three Musketeers.”

My mother would read to me when I was very young, and I had many Golden Books, wonderful for young children. I particularly liked “The Color Kittens,” and “The Party Pig.” Then my father read the great adventure tales to me, “Treasure Island,” my very favorite; and “Kidnapped,” and “Robinson Crusoe,” and “The Jungle Book.” Then I read good sports novels, and mysteries; and then started reading some classic novels. Oh, and I had a good book of Greek mythology to ponder over. Then I majored in English in college, and strongly considered getting a PhD in English, but ultimately did other graduate work instead, but literature was always my favorite academic subject.

I am sure that most here followed a similar path, with the love of books, and of course the words in them. Books are made up of words, of course. Words are the primary way in which humans communicate, though of course there are nonverbal ways, such as facial expressions, loud noises, physical actions or inactions.

The importance of having a good vocabulary is twofold: the ability to express yourself with some depth and nuance, and the capacity to understand the nuance in the statements of other people you literally encounter, or just through the pages of books. The more words you know, the more potential nuance you can explore.

Obviously, there are those people, we might call them sesquipedalians, who delight in using long words to show off, or sound very intelligent. I like the French term “le mot juste,” literally meaning “the right word,” the word that just fits the precise meaning one is trying to convey. I just read that the term was coined by the novelist Flaubert, who would sometimes spend weeks searching for just the right word or phrase to use. Would that more aspired to that!

So some indeed might overdo it. And people who do not have very large vocabularies might resent those whom they think are trying to outshine them. I remember a high school English teacher, who apparently thought that I was doing that; as he all of sudden made a comment about once knowing someone who would use “twenty dollar words” when a “two dollar word” would be fine. Well, I never tried to show off in that way in school, I just used the words that I thought best expressed what I wanted to say. And I did not know very many arcane words, I just used those that I read in books, or that I learned from talking to my parents. But obviously his comment stung me, and it was entirely inappropriate coming from an English teacher. Oh, well.

I do remember always asking my mother, if she were sitting outside with me, what a new word meant. And like many mothers and fathers, she would usually say, “look it up.” But that would mean that I would have to get off the comfortable lounge chair where I was reading; go inside, get the dictionary down from the bookcase; find the word, read the definition, and then go back outside! So while I did it sometimes, I would often just try to figure it out by context, and then did that instead of asking. I think that my father was somewhat more amenable to explaining a word, but he was usually inside doing his artwork, so there were less opportunities to ask him.

I do remember once having difficulty, not with a word, but what I later learned was a dramatic figure of speech. I was reading a book where various writers recounted a dramatic event in baseball. Most were exciting and inspiring stories; but one wrote about the great pitcher Christy Mathewson, “Big Six,” Ivy League educated, and a hero to so many people. Mathewson had gone to fight in World War I, and was poisoned by gas, which the Germans were using in contravention of the war protocols. He did return home, but was never the same, and he tragically died young.

The writer saw him pitch after his return, and not do well; and he described the once untouchable pitcher being hammered; and one of the balls being whacked against the fence at the Polo Grounds. And he wrote, “But the ball wasn’t rolling against the fence, it was in my gullet.”

And oh, how I struggled to understand that sentence. How could the ball be in the writer’s gullet? I asked my mother, and I think she tried to explain somewhat, but I was still confused; and I think it was quite a while after, that I finally understood, that the writer was so upset at seeing his idol now be a shadow of his once great athletic self, that he felt a lump in his throat, akin to the ball being there. What a wonderful turn of phrase.

So where was I? Oh, yes, the value of a strong vocabulary, and the ability to try to express a thought or feeling with as much accuracy and emotion as one could. So it is not about “showing off,” or “looking for twenty dollar words,” it is wanting to be able to express oneself as well as one can. And to do that, you need to know a lot of words, and use them appropriately.

I have always liked word games, though I don’t do them too often. So here comes Wordle, and it is fun to play, though I have strong objections to the New York Times expurgating some words because they decide that they might offend people. And we have discussed that, as we should! But since the game is currently so popular, all the social media which was not present when I was going to school, has become a place for literally millions of people to add their comments, which unfortunately, at least for me, are usually about how hard they think the game has become.

I sometimes look to see if there is an article about the wordle of the day, but only after I have played. I have never looked at any article where someone tries to give advice as to what words to start with, though I certainly enjoy reading the comments here, and I don’t mind learning things, but I want to do as well as I can do on my own, because it is a source of pride for me, as I am sure it is for everyone else who solves one of them, and it should be. We may not be able to do feats on ice or on the track or in the pool, but we can be proud of our ability to use the language, and think of word combinations, and know many words. Not that we gain the fame and applause that the athletes get, but it is still nice to tell a few people, at least.

So there have apparently been a lot of complaints about “how hard the Wordle is getting.” I have not seen that to be so, I just regret the taking away of useful words to try, because of some sanctimonious efforts at the NYT to not allow anyone to guess a word, even just for a clue, that they deem inappropriate, or upsetting, or esoteric or archaic. Bah.

Well, recently the word was “caulk,” and there was a good deal of complaining, people saying they had never heard of the word. Maybe it is a generational thing, but I thought that it was a pretty common word, people still caulk their tubs and tile floors. Then there was “swill,” which seems to me to be very much in use. Anyone who has read any books which take place on a farm, or about ship voyages, would know that word, but I guess some have not, because there were many complaints.

And then yesterday, the word was “tacit.” Now surely anyone who reads or has read newspapers, or watches the news, or has read at least a few books, should know that word. It is pretty commonly used, whether in politics or even sports. But here is what an article on Yahoo said; “‘Who uses this word?!’ Players in uproar over Wordle 246.”

“Another day, another Wordle that has befuddled players and stirred up frustration over the viral word game. Twitter users took to the platform in droves again to express their outrage at the puzzle…”

“The past week has seen some players complain that ‘the game is getting too hard to play,’ with some theorizing that the NYT purposely chooses the most difficult five-letter words to challenge them. Today’s Wordle 246 result left many frustrated, and wondering it it was a real or even commonly used word.”…

“However, a number of people said that they had never heard the word ‘tacit’ before or did not know what it meant. Others were thrown off by the use of a double letter word again.”

One person who got it on the sixth try, wrote “This was a complete guess. WTF is that word?” Another wrote in capital letters “Who uses this word?!” Another said that they had to “search up words to find this, because it was so confusing.”

I will say that there was a spike in searches for the meaning of the word “tacit,” which could be good, but most likely it will stop there, and they will never use it.

Now, I could respond to all of this in various ways. I could be generous, and nice, and say that it is great that so many people are playing a word game, and sharing their experiences, and maybe learning some new words, and that this is something to be applauded.

Or I could be acerbic and maybe condescending, and say that tacit is not an arcane word, it is used in many areas, particularly law, and national and world politics. It simply refers to a commitment or agreement to something without expressing definitive verbal approval. It is not something that one has to have an advanced degree or even a college education to understand its meaning. It is not used as commonly as “kinda” or “sorta,” but it is much more elegant, and expressive of its meaning. So maybe people should actually read some books, or some essays, and learn some new words, because this would help them to not only communicate, but think, with more nuance and precision and depth.

I could say that, but that might be ungenerous or sarcastic. The thing is that people get by, in many cases quite well, without knowing too many words. That is fine; many uneducated people live productive lives, and some make a lot of money. But the problem we have as a society is that our discourse is being atrophied and degraded, because there is an decreasing number of words and phrases which people are capable of using to describe or understand a situation which is more complex than the average.

You want to know whether your manager allows you to take some extra time past your lunch hour. You think he has. Another person challenges you and demands to see it in writing. You might say, “He never wrote it down, but I asked him about it once, and he didn’t say that he objected; and he has not said anything when I have, and he has praised my work, so he has given his tacit consent.” You might not even say all of the first part, just “he has given his tacit consent.” Actually, in various informal or even formal hearings, in an office, or in court, the concept of “tacit consent” can be significant.

So it is a word that can be useful to know and comprehend. The more of these words and concepts that one understands, the more able one can be to explain a position or action. It does not mean that you will always come out ahead, or be right, but you will have a greater understanding and ability to grasp what is going on. And if you read somewhere that a government or political figure is said to have given their tacit approval to a course of action, you will know what that means.

This is what more people should want to do, rather than complaining about words that they don’t know or think they have never seen. And though the Wordle game and comments are in good humor, there seems to be a bit of defensive pride from people who don’t know the words when they see the answers. Almost a sort of anti-intellectualism. “I don’t know that word, why should I? Cut down the list of words, let’s have ones like bread, and store, and great. Get rid of those other ones, I can’t be bothered with them.”

Unfortunately, no one is an island. And if the society you live in is being dumbed down, and if vocabularies are decreasing, what you know would have even less power to affect or change someone else’s opinion, because they don’t have the figurative or literal vocabulary to engage in the discussion. In that sense, the social chain may be no stronger than its weakest links, if there are multitudes of them. At least that is my thought of the day. 🙂