With all the talking, chatter, expounding, and expressing our opinions that goes with the open-ended cultural territory we all inhabit these days, it’s no wonder, just sayin’ is a popular linguistic add-on to many a modern conversation. Being a personal essayist, I am no exception.
I’m guilty of using the phrase and so is my ten-year-old nearly-step grandson – in one of his first texts to me using his newly gifted cell phone. It’s a profuse and ubiquitous concept and linguistic aid. Now I shall break it down.
“What’s on your mind?” Asks Facebook. To which, many FB members respond with a photo, a memory, a meme, a quote, a fleeting thought, a suggestion, prayer, advice, or simply an observation about the day, life, news, politics, the weather, and more.
Bloggers – online diarists, many of us, overshare as a career. We self-disclose with abandon, for a living. I guess it’s the definition of overshare that perhaps has changed. It was once called diarrhea of the mouth. Just sayin’ implies anything goes, as well as, “the more the merrier” – talk, talk, talk, talk. It’s an information glut – wisdom; not so much, not so often.
FREE SPEECH –
The first amendment to our Constitution gives every American freedom to speak and to write, without government interference. But, is there no restraint of another kind governing the content or the extent of our speech? I’m not sure. This might be a problem.
I recently binge-watched the first season of The Crown, on Netflix. A striking cinematic and relational contrast was established on screen between the two sisters, Elizabeth (the Queen) and Margaret. The Queen because of several things, not least of which is her anointing as head of the Church of England, and her sworn duty to the people of the United Kingdom, over which her government presides – appears stuffy, self-important, relationally distant, and insecure without the advice and coaching of one or another government official. Her sister, on the other hand, without a role of such magnitude, has the luxury and freedom to be fun-loving, individualistic, sarcastic, jovial, even frivolous in her doings and in her speech
Margaret is considered the real and likable one, and Elizabeth, unembodied by sentiment or individuality of any sort is the stern, unimaginative, serious sister, by comparison. In fact, the Queen was forbidden by the Prime Minister (Churchill) as well as her grandmother (Queen Mary) to ever show individuality – she was to remain always, the Crown, and none other.
As to speech, the contrast between the sisters, was evidenced by restraint and duty to country above all else in Elizabeth, versus no holds barred, just sayin’ ramblings of a privileged individual in Margaret; that privilege, granted to her by the Crown itself. Both sisters by virtue of their royal birth had the right to expound publicly. However, Elizabeth’s restraint, even her silence is considered her primary role as Sovereign.
We Americans, known for our independent and individualistic spirit, relate more readily to Margaret, and later to Diana (the people’s princess). We don’t understand Elizabeth’s restraint, silence, or duty to something higher than herself – we really don’t get it; we don’t get her and wish her to just loosen up. We’re the epitome of the self-centered, just sayin’ lifestyle.
GLUT OF EXPERTS –
Thus, the rise, in the U.S. of the self-proclaimed expert. When I was growing up, it was understood that an expert was someone with advanced knowledge or experience in a subject or exceptional skill and ability in a field. These people, few in number compared to ordinary folks, were sought for their expertise. Today, it seems that experts are everywhere and advanced education or years of experience have little to do with their platforms, popularity, or influence.
Television personalities judge fashion, with no more expertise nor taste than some of my more sophisticated neighbors and acquaintances. Hip-hop artists tell us what booze to drink and how big our bums and boobs should be. Reality stars of “leaked” sex tapes tell us how to grow our brand; and live decadent, consumer-rich lifestyles – while collecting hefty pay-checks from the networks and products who sponsor them. Movie and television personalities, some of them actors by trade, coach us on everything from how to dress, what to eat, who to vote for, how to look like them, what cars to drive, how to raise our children, and which credit cards to carry – all while themselves living in a bubble in a far, far away land, securely ensconced away from us.
Of course, we knew the personal exploits of movie stars from a generation ago – Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, and so on, but they weren’t walking infomercials like contemporary celebrities. Gone – or at least out of the lime-light, are experts by virtue of their education or years of experience; to be replaced by a category of human being called an opinion-maker.
Opinion-journalism of the twenty-first century is now the norm, with objective reporting no longer even a difficult to obtain goal. I was taught in high school English, the importance of maintaining objective distance when reporting the news. There was a boundary between debate, opinion, and news.
Evidence and verification of journalistic speech is no longer part of the long, long ago, accepted pseudo-scientific-method of journalism. Now, most news resembles the gossip column of old. The new buzzword in journalism is transparency – a fancy word for telling it like it is from one point of view (using facts to support that perspective only) – neutrality be damned. Let the buyer (audience) beware, I guess. Do I buy it? Good, if yes. Go screw yourself, if no. In other words, it’s okay to be biased in reporting if you’re clearly biased – making sure that one’s bias is open and obvious is the only restraint needed.
IN CONCLUSION –
Another use of the just sayin’ suffix, is in the vein of the, “no offense, but…” criticism. For example, “no offense, but your hair is so 1990, you would look cute with so-and-so’s haircut.” It’s a form of masking or softening a critical or snipey* comment, so as not to be perceived as critical, bitchy, or a snipey* human being. After all, “I’m just sayin’!
(*Author’s note – spell-checker, auto-correct and other such monitors of my English grammar, syntax, and such does not like the word snipey, which I made up. I like it so I added it to my dictionary – just sayin’.)
Happy 2017 ya’ll:)