The BLOG: Politics

‘Wussificiation’ of America: Is it real?

“Wussification.” What exactly is this term and is it an actuality? In recent months, “wussification” has become more and more part of our vernacular. It seems that is has added a bit of spice to the election season fervor as well as encouraged some nationwide reflection. In considering its use, it begs the question: Has America changed so much that we are no longer the best and brightest? The strongest and most powerful? And if not, does it mean that we have become “wussified”?

For some pundits, this has become a way to stoke the already high flames of the current political arena. And yet, it is something that has shreds of truth to it. For example, a few small-scale instances speak loudly to a greater problem. In Wisconsin, fans at a youth basketball game were told not to yell “air ball” while the game was taking place. This has been cited as name-calling and derogatory by the administration. This is clearly not anything but a phrase often invoked to psyche out the opposition. Harmful? Hardly. In another example, The Atlantic recently published an article titled, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” which speaks directly to this issue. It outlines, in clear terms, how certain words and phrases, concepts and issues are now being banned on college campuses so as not to insult. Isn’t this going too far? What exactly are we teaching our younger generations? It’s not exclusive to campuses, but something bigger that is happening in our society.

As a society, we are becoming increasingly hyper-sensitized to just about everything. More often than not, it seems likely that before you speak you may find yourself pausing in certain settings because you don’t want to offend. Remarkably, if you approach anyone today you might find yourself biting your tongue in fear of what you might say or quite possibly, that you might insult them or be participating in a “micro-aggression” (the new hot-button word). How did it get to be like this? One response is that our current political climate is encouraging hyper-sensitivity and a blatant disregard for free speech and encouraging too much political correctness. There is a double standard for everyone and everything and we have purified our language to a point that often it no longer makes sense.

Are we truly teaching the younger generation properly when we are cleansing our vocabulary of words and providing disclaimers for all that we say? Is it fair to label everything as insulting? It seems to me that too many words and topics are being taken out of our conversations in order to sanitize the language and topics to conceal reality and to usher in hyper-sensitivity. However, has anyone considered the damage that is being incurred? To speak delicately or over-critically is not productive. We must teach and speak with accuracy, not with regret or fear. Changing the way we converse so as not to offend or to wipe out entire curriculums because a novel or film is too graphic in historical content is not productive. Rather, we are weakening minds, spirits and fortitude in the process.

If our young adults, and any adult for that matter, believes that entering the world with such soft skin is appropriate, then we are failing them. This is precisely why “wussificiation” has emerged. Often, I have found that many who are pointing fingers are the very individuals who are abusing their so-called insulting language. It is mind boggling that we live in a free society that is always upset and insulted. Is it a healthy environment to be a part of when we must think and re-think every word that passes through our lips? Yes, we should always be kind to one another and accept one another’s differences, that should go without saying. But, when we are constantly finding fault in terms that are innocuous such as “air ball,” then we must step back and reconsider what has encouraged us to fall into such disarray.

We are doing young adults a grave disservice in subtracting content and words from our language. Harmless phrases should retain their status as harmless so we are able to teach and explain how to confront things that we don’t agree with and to learn from distractions. Erasing words, ideas and concepts will not strengthen us, nor make us a better country. Rather, it will work against us and encourage fear, instability and promote vulnerability due to a population that is unable to ward away offenses and see beyond words and phrases that should not bet labeled as upsetting.