On improving my verbs

I’m a big fan of verbs in language. They are the most essential of all words, because without them there is no language. “My dog” is not a sentence, in and of itself, but when “My dog goes for a walk,” that’s a sentence. People and things can’t just exist all by themselves, although “exist” is a pretty good verb. Those people and things have to actually do something to make our language function.

I say this because I was looking at the News Channel on our Nintendo Wii yesterday. We’ve had a Wii for many years now, and while it rarely gets used anymore, it’s just fine for whenever the urge to play video games strikes. When I was younger, video games were all I wanted to do, and that involved having quarters in hand and journeying out to a local arcade. But the games on our Wii are probably better than the most advanced early 1980s video games ever were, and I like having the option to play them whenever I want to.  Or to reset them when I’m not happy with the way a game is going. I’m probably a few years behind the curve with my Wii, but I’m perfectly happy with it, all the same.

But back to the Wii News Channel for a moment. As I scrolled down the list of stories, some of which were news to me, and some of which were not, I noticed the verbs that appeared in the headlines. And I wrote them down, without any context of what the stories they describe were about. And here they are, from top to bottom:

dies; stumble; reject; ordered; sues; wants; smuggle; drops; block; snatching; restricted; accused; threatened; break into; descended; feared; ordered; survived; reject; blasts; killed; drops; exposed; appeals; defends; improving; decrying; avoid; pleads; cull; die; falls; fighting; and projects.

That sure is a depressing list. Many headlines had no verb at all, but they were typically about death and injuries and other unpleasant things. In fact, I found only three verbs that seem like they would be uplifting: inspires, welcomes, and born. If I were to write a headline about the headlines on the Nintendo Wii News, it might say something like “Negative headlines overwhelm positive news stories on video game channel.”

Even the verb that I would use, “overwhelm,” has a negative connotation to it. These verbs are good at grabbing our attention, if only for the wrong reasons. So going forward, I will do my best to put a positive spin on things in this space–both the headlines and the subject matter–because the old adage about “becoming the change you want to see in the world” definitely applies here. And my use of “improving” in this post’s title seems like a good place to start.

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