Of Dohments And Magic Toasters

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - August 19, 2009
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All right. Every once in awhile I come up with a doozy. As in, worst ... writing ... ever. Here’s my latest cringe-worthy transgression, from a column I wrote about my son’s couch potato summer:

“And we shouldn’t be so afraid that they’ll never get on it if we don’t push them while they’re young.”


I know what you’re thinking. Just how many negatives can that woman squeeze into one little sentence? And - what did she mean? (Even I don’t know the answer to that.) And how did she ever graduate from high school?

All I can say is, I’m sorry (hanging head in shame).

So go ahead, scold me. Any and all tongue-lashings are richly deserved and humbly accepted. I promise the English teachers of Hawaii that I will do better from now on.

And how’s this for an awkward segue: from my bad sentence to the changing face of interpersonal communication. Take a look at some of the ways people talk to each other nowadays: e-mails, message boards, Facebook, blogs, Twitter. The definition of networking has evolved, from people making actual physical connections (i.e., “working” a room, “doing lunch,” or passing out cards and phone numbers at a party) to “friending” and “following” each other on various social networks.

Don’t be embarrassed if it scares you at first. It’s different and aggressive and in-your-face. It’s easy for people to lose all sense of propriety and to shed their manners because, well, they can. It’s a largely anonymous universe and prone to abuse.

I admit I’m having a hard time jumping in completely. I’m what they call a “lurker,” meaning I read the posts on the boards and the blogs, and even follow some of the twits (tweets?), but don’t actually have the nerve or the desire to participate. But I do like to watch. It’s as entertaining as television - amusing, appalling, sometimes enlightening and often infuriating. And it can be addicting, like my attachment to Kit Kat bars.

Spend any time at all on the Internet or in text-ville and you find that ordinary English is no longer sufficient. You have to get used to and comfortable with a new language, much of which is composed entirely of acronyms. ROFL! LMAO!! OMG!!! Notice the exclamation points!!!! Everyone, it seems, is excited in cyberspace.

And no wonder they’re excited. The denizens of the Net and Twitterverse are speaking in a kind of secret code. They’re even rewriting the dictionary. No, not the clunky paperback you have on your desk or the big book sitting and gathering dust on your bookshelf, but the one I’ve been turning to a lot lately to help me understand what the heck I’m reading. The Urban Dictionary is siiiiick. You know, sick. As in ... dope. It’s where you go to find definitions of anything hip, cool and today. And it will show you that using the words “hip, cool and today” is so yesterday.

My new favorite from the Urban Dictionary is the word dohment:

“One of those slap-you-forehead moments when you realize that you’ve just done something incredibly stupid. The moment when something ‘dawns on you’ and ‘the penny drops.’

“A dohment is when you realize that you’ve put the baby outside and tucked the cat up in the cot for the night.”

Yes, I’ve had many a dohment. I just called it by the old name: “senior moment.”

Still, despite my attempts at keeping up, I fear I will never really get it. In fact, the UD has a phrase to describe people like me: Magic Toaster. According to my new dictionary, a Magic Toaster is:

“A derogatory term describing an un-savvy computer user’s view of what a computer is.”

Why my magic toaster no come on? I plug in, but no toast.

Yeah. Why no toast? (Slaps forehead. Hard.)

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