unpublishPosted: June 4, 2014
We got to talking about cringe-worthy words at work today, all brought about one coworker’s use of irregardless, a word that offends the delicate sensibilities of many Anglos as the result of having the verboten double-negative beaten out of us (typically with stern corrections, such as “that ain’t no way to talk!” – oh, don’t double standards abound in the realm of childhood?), but that was actually a perfectly cromulent* word to use up until a couple hundred years ago. It offends my sensibilities because, ugh, those poor consonants and vowels going to waste when we could just use regardless! Won’t somebody think of the poor, wasted letters? What will we do when we’ve used them all up? Yes, I anthropomorphize letters. I don’t have a problem and I don’t need your help.
Currently, my favourite offender is unpublish as it is meant nowadays to mean the retraction of previously published content for consumption by the audience, as opposed to its pre-internet meaning of content that had never been published, but may have been later (her works went unpublished until after her death…you know what I mean).
After thinking about it for a while, I learned that I loathe the term in its modern sense because the fact that we can unpublish something infers that we have a lot more forgiveness and can be a less diligent with our messages and accuracy in relaying information. Back in The Good Old Days™, once something was published, it could not be unpublished. The only way out of crappy content was to issue retractions and corrections and apologies and hope to hell that stakeholders were not offended enough to pull their backing.
On the other hand, I love the term because it perfectly describes the rather false liberty we have when it comes to publishing content/everything we do, from facebook to twitter to instagram online and the fact that we can just take it back…kind of.
I mean, we can remove it from easy accessibility to our audiences should we make a mistake and republish should we want to, but between caching and the fact that the audience cannot unread or unsee (I’m thinkin’ goatse, here o.Ò) means that it’s all there in quasi-permanence for all but the innocent to go digging for, unless we all suddenly develop etch-a-sketch brains.
I have a gazillion more thoughts around this, but really wanted to get this part out, at least. What are your thoughts, kittens?