Most of my readers know me for a delicate, sensitive, if not always sensible sort. I must confess though, that I am given to slightly warm feelings when irked in particular, by banal, inappropriate or feeble utterances.
So when I heard a television talking head describing some deed, word, action or inaction which I do not recall, as “not okay”, my hackles rose a tad.
However, being a man of experience and some sagacity, I approached the matter with my usual caution; something whispered in my mind: Beware! Here be dragons!
What did it, was the not okay bit. Not okay was not okay with me: it is banal, bland, fence-sitting, wishy-washy, bunny hugger drivel. It is the other end of the spectrum of revolting language usage from awesome!
Before I slip into full rant mode and start frothing at the keyboard, let me say that I did some research into okay. The word apparently originated in the US (where else?). It was the initials of a facetious folk phonetic spelling abbreviation for ‘orl korrekt’ representing ‘all correct’. It was absorbed into the common usage as a verb, adverb, noun, and interjection and spread worldwide.
It has morphed (not sure about that word either) into one of the English words most utilized in all languages.
I was flabbergasted to discover that 14 September is R U OK? Day.
That nearly set my fuse off too! Just invent a cause and appropriate a day! You can start a website, market merchandise and away you go! Hmpfff!
Just in case you missed it, today is National Chipotle Day – May 5th is dedicated to the chipotle, a smoked, dried jalapeno pepper. I kid you not!
Anyway, back to okay/not okay. R U OK? Day was started by the relatives of people who had committed suicide. Its purpose is to encourage people to check on their loved ones by asking them that simple question. In this context not okay is a sad, terrible and terrifying condition in which to be. I strongly endorse the practice of checking your loved ones’ mental strength. Asking shows you care and provides an opportunity for a release or a cry for help.
What I object to is that the expression not okay has been incorporated to signify anything that may not meet the rapidly replicating rules which require society to behave in such a way as not to miff anyone who might be sensitive about something. Like, it’s not okay to call some behaviour gay (or a person gay unless he/she is…).
Ever since I saw West Side Story in the 60’s, the word ‘gay’ has been one of my favourite words. ‘Gay’ used to mean cheerful, cheery, merry, jolly, light-hearted, mirthful, jovial, glad, happy, bright, in high spirits, joyful, elated, exuberant, animated, lively, vivacious, buoyant, bouncy, bubbly, perky, effervescent, playful and frolicsome. Now tell me that is not a delightful word!
If you check the lyrics online now, you will find that the word ‘gay’ has been scrubbed from the song and replaced with ‘bright’. Is that okay?
Do the gentle, inoffensive, protectors of those that they think may be easily bruised, have the right to change the language icons of our past, because gay now refers to things homosexual. Why has that lovely word been appropriated for the exclusive use of such an historically fraught set of people?
Granted, buggers was not a nice label, nor was queers or poofs.
Dearie me, I do get easily distracted.
What I want to say is that not okay should not be used when there are many, far more appropriate words such as indelicate, offensive, awful, inappropriate, unacceptable, extraordinary, extreme, bad, abnormal, impolite, unreasonable, bloody rude …oops!
Here is a little guide – hope it helps.