Segarini – Dumbing Down Our Ability to Communicate

Most of this stems from a rant I posted on my FB Timeline around 3 years ago. Tragically, I feel it needs repeating. I have seen no change in our inability to mean what we say and say what we mean, while our vocabulary shrinks, our respect for the printed word dwindles, and our limited desire for actual conversation remains couched in small talk, gossip, rumour, and conjecture. …and some of our old opinions continue to float intact, free of recently revealed facts, new information, and our own failing memories and lack of honesty.

People Don’t Change. but we can GROW., dammit!

*The Wall*

“Hey China! I can see your wall from here!”

The Wall has different meanings for different people. There is one in China that can allegedly be seen from outer space. There is the one on Facebook where the graffiti of your life and the lives of your friends can be shared instantly. There is the one that marathon participants hit when they just can’t run anymore. And there’s the one that is part of the legacy of a somewhat vague and pretentious British rock band whose lasting popularity is based on its musical dexterity and lyrics that can be interpreted to suit whatever the listener chooses to believe. Then there is my Wall. The one I hit almost every time I sit down to write.

Writing is not the easiest way to communicate. It is difficult to convey sarcasm, nuance, and other easily verbalized inflections, yet we are a culture that has chosen to text, tweet, email, and instant message, instead of pick up the phone and call someone or engage in a face to face conversation. We go to clubs and bars where the music is so loud verbal communication is next to impossible. A family of 4 can be in the same room, but with mom on the laptop wishing someone happy birthday by writing on their wall on Facebook, dad chatting with his buds on a fantasy football site, Jr. playing Warcraft with his friends, and sis texting her BFFs, they might as well be on 4 different mountains on 4 different continents.

Communicating the way we do has all but destroyed grammar, punctuation, and spelling. We write in a kind of goof-ball shorthand most of the time. If you get any snail mail these days, it is a bill, a flyer, or a postcard. Very few of us write letters anymore, which is probably a good thing. Most of us have trouble with ‘there, their, and they’re’, ‘to, too, and two’, and the always popular, ‘your, yore, and you’re. Is it ‘here, here’, or ‘hear, hear’? And when is it ‘its’ and not ‘it’s’? Most of us get away with these mistakes because no one cares if you use the wrong word anymore. The vast majority of us would fail an 8th grade English class…if they still really taught English. How far do you think LOL, L8R would get you in a pop quiz?

Because we have become so acclimated to getting our information in short bursts these days, reading is in as much trouble as writing. People tend to glean whatever information they think they are reading, rather than fully understanding the words. We skim. We glance. We see the words we think are important and dismiss the rest. We are, for some inexplicable reason, in a hurry; swallowing the words whole instead of chewing on them and getting their full flavours, their full meanings. Words are written and read without context. How many times have you read a wall post in your Facebook newsfeed that says something like “I hate that!” with no indication of what the fuck ‘that’ is?

Beautifully written character VS Silly lady fall down go boom!

Over the years I have discovered that eloquence in speaking or writing falls prey to the opinion that anyone who speaks well or writes well is pulling a fast one. Silver Tongued Devils using words to corrupt, or sway, or manipulate us into believing whatever it is they’re on about. The unwarranted and slightly paranoid belief persists that anyone who can express themselves so clearly, so engagingly, must be up to no good. That opinion runs rampant in our culture, the same culture that is perfectly at home with believing cancer can be cured by eating a radish every 20 minutes, Elvis is still alive and owns a gas station in Rome, Georgia, and all Republicans have a secret headquarters where they meet every Wednesday under the stairs at an Akron, Ohio Hooters and eat their young…all because they read it on Facebook or Twitter. Then, to add insult to injury, they ask us to repost or re-tweet their information or make it our ‘status’.


When I first started writing these columns (for FYIMusic) back in February of 2008, I couldn’t wait to sit down in front of the laptop. I wrote 3 columns a week without breaking a sweat for 2 years. It was easy and it was fun. I wrote about my life in music, in radio, and just my life in general. I wrote about stuff I love, like television, comic books, movies and food. I still do. But now almost every time I sit down in front of the computer, I hit The Wall. I could just bounce off of it when I was younger. Now? …now it hurts.

And you wonder why I lie under the bed and play ‘Jeopardy’ with Alexa instead of torture myself in front of the computer …which has been acting like IT doesn’t want me to write anything either.

I am terrified I will sound like an idiot. I am afraid I will so screw up the punctuation or use the wrong word or miss a typo that you will think I’m typing with my elbows while driving. I am afraid I will be boring…and I am afraid I will repeat myself or, worse yet, fail to come up with something to write about, or repeat myself …or fail to come up with something to write about.


Much of what plagues me these days is in my frustration with so many things. I obsess about the public’s inability to differentiate between popular and good. I fret about people’s inability to communicate honestly and simply with one another. I am troubled that pertinent information goes unshared. I am saddened by the fact that violence and rage are implemented by the hopelessly insecure (and we are all insecure to a degree, the connective tissue that makes us human) more than dialogue and diplomacy, and I am disappointed that discourse is a lost art, more often than not just the opening salvo to an argument that ends in name calling or worse. I am disgusted by the lack of common sense in our leaders and ourselves, and I am frightened by how easily we accept mediocrity as good enough, and celebrity as a goal. All of this just gives me the blahs and an occasional bout of the Screaming Mimi’s.

I am tired of tip-toeing around the fact that most of what you hear on the radio is premeditated shit. (Keep in mind that that has always been evident in popular music. Just watch Queen discussing how they are hoping to write a song that will attract more people/fans/attention to their brand in the embarrassing and horrid Biopic about them). I am weary of hearing how shitty today’s music is when in fact today’s music is miraculous, but with the vast majority of it not being played on the radio or easily found on the internet, and most self-professed “Music Lovers” are too fucking lazy to look for anything new or current, even by one of their favourite Classic Rock groups, unless it’s that rare clip of The Beatles playing “Wooly Bully” at Jimmy Page’s 35th Birthday kegger and groupie round-up, most of the great music out there survives by packing live shows for those who DO give a shit about music, and are not nostalgic for their youth. I am sick and tired of the guiding lights of the entertainment industries who insist that we are criminals for embracing the present while they continue to champion a past that has no place in today’s world. Mostly, I am just plain fed up with personal agendas, greed, and bullheaded misanthropes who punish innovation and creativity and reward conformity and superficiality.

I am tired of those to whom passion and talent are mere buzzwords with no real meaning behind them at all, hollow praise to describe that which has no passion and those who possess no talent, as though saying it will make it so. Saying you have passion might get you the job, but it will also get you fired if you actually display any. And talent is more than having a good voice or the ability to play a guitar solo in a band.

I know this feeling will pass. It has before, and it will again. And when it does my sense of humour will return, the wall will dissipate, and writing will once again become easy and fun …hopefully. …and Alexa says there is always a reason to hope.

Until then…fuck…

…I really don’t have anything to say.


Segarini’s irregular columns drive by night, are licensed to kill, enjoy walks on the beach, and firmly believe that given enough time, people will quit referring to what Mick Jagger does on stage as “dancing”.

Please leave any comments in the “Reply” section below. Seriously. What do YOU think? Write something for fuck’s sake …I want discourse!!!


Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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