Thursday, October 6, 2016

Today in First World Problems

The tyranny of having to use the word "fiancé":
Why I hate it: It sounds silly, feels pompous and even precious. It’s the verbal equivalent of wearing a monocle, or using an encyclopedia when Wikipedia is at your fingertips. During my yearlong engagement, I never managed to say the word without feeling, somehow, like a jerk. . . .

Cassia Skurecki, a photo producer, 29, who got engaged at the end of 2015, said the word fiancé “is kind of like when you go into a restaurant and can’t quite pronounce something on the menu. It’s awkward and foreign and you always hesitate to say it with fear of sounding like you are trying too hard to make sure it sounds authentic.”

Mr. Soller said that calling his partner his fiancé “feels like too much information, or just plain brag-y, as if I need folks to know that we're a couple and that we're getting married within five minutes of meeting them.”

The thing many hate most about using the word is the way it invites unwanted questions like, “When’s the wedding?” and “How’d he propose?” Discussing this with a stranger at a party is at once uncomfortable and uninteresting. Doing it 10 times in one night is excruciating.
Haiti was just blasted by a hurricane, civil war rages in Syria, Donald Trump is within spitting distance of the presidency, and we're going to spend our day venting about this terrifying word that makes us feel awkward. For some people just, you know, not using a word they dislike is too low profile, and only launching an online campaign against it will do.

5 comments:

pithom said...

"Donald Trump is within spitting distance of the presidency"

-Huzzah!

G. Verloren said...

"For some people just, you know, not using a word they dislike is too low profile, and only launching an online campaign against it will do."

Who, exactly, is launching a campaign? You link to a NYT article about how the word is falling out of fashion, not some online petition to have it outlawed or something. Don't exaggerate.

Moreover, you're falling into a logical fallacy. People can be upset about multiple things at once, even things of vastly different severity. Being outraged at something major in no way means you can't also be outraged at something minor. Just because you're upset about extreme police violence in the nation doesn't mean you can't simultaneously be upset about someone littering.

And let's be fair, it really is a rather foreign, outmoded word. We don't really have an English equivalent that isn't considered obsolete or archaic these days (as is "betrothed"). And certainly we no longer live in a time when volunteering as much information as possible about oneself to strangers is quite so necessary socially. It is a word two centuries out of date, a relic from a time when women still were treated as property whose sole reason for existing was to be married off and produce and raise children for their husbands.

People are allowed to dislike using it, and to even comment openly on that dislike. The fact that there are other, more major things to worry about doesn't make this particular lesser topic any less legitimate a grievance.

David said...

I think part of the point of the NYT style section is that it is self-consciously, self-parodically trivial. It's sort of the newspaper equivalent of the Seinfeld show, a show about nothing, with self-absorbed New York singles doing their banter.

Of course, that's also part of its arrogance: we may be trivial and self-absorbed, but OUR meaningless banter is worth printing.

G. Verloren said...

@David As I asked before, how does the fact that there are more newsworthy things to write about in the NYT actually mean anything?

Should we do away with newspaper comic strips, because they're frivolous and unimportant? How about interest pieces, letters to the editor, and weekly columns? How about the sports section, or coverage of the arts? How dare our newspapers waste time covering such non-vital nonsense! There are major political and socio-economic crises in the world to think about! We're not allowed to care about anything else less important!

Who exactly died and made you grand arbiter of what is and is not worth printing? When did the New York Times put you in charge of deciding which content is worth their time and resources to create and publish?

And how grossly self entitled and myopic is it to lambast a particular kind of printed content simply because it doesn't appeal to your particular tastes? Clearly someone out there reads and cares about these sorts of pieces, or the NYT wouldn't bother with writing them. Just because that someone isn't you doesn't mean the content shouldn't exist, or that others shouldn't value and consume it.

You are of course entitled to your opinion, but if you don't like such content, then simply don't read it. Or heck - if the mere presence of such content ruins your capacity to find value in the NYT as a whole, why not simply go find some other news outlet that better caters to your tastes, which doesn't "waste print" on things you don't approve of?

And here's the irony: the act of complaining about trivial self-absorbed content in a newspaper is itself a trivial self-absorbed act. You may find it all to be meaningless and valueless, but then again so is your griping - even moreso.

David said...

Wow, Verloren, that was really unpleasant. You've outdone yourself.