Too often our use of language has become lazy, frivolous, and even counterproductive. We rely on clichés and bromides to communicate in such a way that our intentions are lost or misinterpreted. In a culture of “takeaways” and buzzwords, it requires study and cunning to keep language alive.
In Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, Diana Senechal examines words, concepts, and phrases that demand reappraisal. Targeting a variety of terms, the author contends that a “good fit” may not always be desirable; delivers a takedown of the adjective “toxic”; and argues that “social justice” must take its place among other justices. This book also includes a critique of our modern emphasis on takeaways, quick answers, and immediate utility.
By scrutinizing words and phrases that serve contemporary fads and follies, this book stands up against the excesses of language and offers some engaging alternatives. Drawing on literature, philosophy, social sciences, music, and technology, the author offers a rich framework to make fresh connections between topics. Combining sharp criticism, lyricism, and play, Mind over Memes argues for judicious and imaginative speech.