What a very busy and productive couple of weeks!!! Do those two words mean the same thing? Well, not exactly. We can be very busy at times and completely unproductive; or we can be productive without being busy. Like most words, the meaning can best be determined by the usage and context.
And, how many people have you seen that do NOT stop at a sign that says STOP. Does the stop sign not mean stop? Does it mean, slow down and look? Or maybe it means that the local road department is suggesting that you stop, but if you don’t, that’s okay. Sort of like speed “limit” signs are becoming more like speed “suggestion” signs. If people continue to ignore the stop signs, will the word STOP cease to mean STOP?
Two events this week triggered this topic. The first one involved the word “FREE” in an advertisement. When I decided to take them up on their offer, they didn’t really mean FREE. They meant that instead of charging me for the service I was requesting, they would charge me for “delivering” that service. Coincidentally, the value of the FREE service was exactly the same as the “delivery” fee. This transaction involved nothing on their part and several steps on my part, but it also involved me paying them something. In my mind, that is not, nor ever will be, what the word FREE means. I was reminded of the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, and I hung up without buying the “free” service.
Then, the other night, I was listening to a newscast. The reporter was doing an expose on security/facial recognition/privacy issues. People signing up with online dating services were extremely upset that their REAL information was going to be available due to a new, and ever-growing public facial recognition program. The reporter went on to report that the investigation revealed that approximately 60% of those enrolled in the dating services used “pseudonyms.”
Now while I can see why people who are pedophiles, rapists, married, or have other criminal records may not want their real faces linked up to their “pseudonyms,” I’m not sure why an honest, legitimate person would be upset. If I were working with an on-line dating service, I’d WANT to know who I was really getting paired up with, right?
But then, I’m not exactly sure when an ALIAS became the same thing as a PSEUDONYM, either. Bad guys have aliases, while writers have pseudonyms. Or at least in my world that’s how it is. Though both contain the word “false” in their definition, (American Heritage Dictionary 4th Ed.) the former is directly linked with bad guys, while the latter is more commonly known as a “pen name” and is related to writers.
We wordsmiths would be well served to keep our eyes and ears open to the word choices being used in the media, since common usage is really what determines definition. While I once thought that a reporter’s “errors” could be contributed to adrenaline or their youth, I’m no longer sure that’s the case. I think what’s happening is that the world is becoming unable to tell the truth, about just about everything, hense the reason that “free” comes with a dollar sign; and your next on-line date referal may have a hidden agenda. A very DARK hidden agenda. Delightful delemmas for our protagonists, however!
To bring this week full circle, I’m delighted to report that the Rogues Gallery Writers (of which I am one) has completed the edits on the novel, “The Method Writers.” The free short story collection is complete too – Ficticious Fiction – and everyone who subscribes to THE METHOD WRITERS blog, or preorders an autographed copy of the book, will get FICTICIOUS FICTION absolutely free!!
And I promise you, we DO mean absolutely, positively FREE!!! No pseudonyms required.