Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Before it moved to The New Yorker:
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Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


Emily Gordon writes:

Lately I’ve been waging an inner war against millennial modifiers. Is it Gen Y’s fault (let’s blame them!), or the fault of us ad-sandblasted, dichotomy-spurning, latchkey-clutching Xers, that everything is “kinda” and “basically” now? I often used these qualifiers myself before I started noticing how hollow and cynical they sound. I’m objecting to this: “pretty awesome” and “kinda genius” and “sort of hilarious” and “basically the best thing ever.”

It takes character, and sometimes bravery—a Franzen-style commitment to loving rather then insta-liking—to declare a person or a thing actually good or smart or funny. What’s the point of declaring your devotion to something, or admiration for someone, if you can pre-take it back just in case someone else thinks your choice is lame? It’s simultaneously hyperbolic (which, as an enthusiast, I’m fine with), disingenuous (danger!), negating (hipster disaffection masking vague woundedness), and oxymoronic (and how is that a held belief?).

Although it’s already been replaced by Dicking Around, I’m still a proud adherent of the New Sincerity. Will you join me in putting on the sweet high lonesome sound of The Secret Sisters and wearing your heart on your (corduroy) sleeve instead of hiding it in an equivocating, halfhearted irony bucket?

Related: More banned words and phrases.


Yes! Annoying! When I catch myself doing it its like I’ve caught myself flirting. Shameful!

I saw this in my reader and came back to comment and then found your take on the profane history of TNY …

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree