© 2016 paulwhankins

“This is Not ‘This'”

A recent post by an author/illustrator/friend got me thinking about social media users who share content with a simple tag, “This.” The post was somewhat critical of those who edit their remarks to this short, simple statement. I may have done this a time or two myself as I find a piece of text (in whatever form that text might take). It’s a shortened way of saying, “I want you to see this. I have little more to add than what you might see or read here. This.”

I agree with the status update that suggests perhaps “This.” is becoming overused. Trite. And then, I began to think of the other methods by which we were taught to observe even while we were learning how to read. We were taught to “come,” to “look,” and to “see” by the early readers that would guide us to a language that presented a subtext of which we might not have been aware at such an early age.

It was “this.”

It was something we were supposed to come and to look and to see.

And. . .of late. . .it seems that we are not coming.

We are hesitant and resisting. We have been called to come and we are refusing the call.

We have been asked to look and we find are selves asking “What is it for which I am supposed to be looking?”

Or with an egotistical leaning, “What is the thing for which I am looking?”

Called. . .even compelled to “see,” we either cannot believe what is being presented to us, or we look down and away in an effort to seek some distraction from that which is right before us.

We are called to come. . .to look. . .to see.


But THIS is not this. It would mean that “this” is our best attempt to come to terms with all what is what it is. “This” is our best response to “that.”

To those.

To them.

But not you. Not me. Not we.

We are not a part of “this.”

That is there. Not here. Not now.

Here is this. For many, this is here. This is now.

That is “there.” And it time, it becomes “then.”

I am not a part of this.

This is the new elipsis.

When we would not respond to “help,” we taught them to yell, “fire.”

What is the new emergent cry that will turn the heads of the people?


You need not read the whole book to see your role in this particular chapter. This is more than allusion. It’s an attempt at personal inclusion.

It’s “this.”

It’s immediate and sharp. It’s succinct and directive. Probably most effective when showing a pet what it is that they may have done in error. We point with our finger and exclaim, “This.”

“This. . .this is what you did.”

While in our own lives, we allow a trend to offer a communal “hall pass” to turn away from the this that was to the new “this.”

Come. Look. See. We are all now doing this.

It’s not that. Not anymore. It’s this. Come. Look. See.

The support for the new this allows all other concerns for that to fade into the background of what was. Then.

The video of an acceptance speech goes viral. This.

The creative turn of phrase taught in any entry-level class on rhetoric and style garners thousands of retweets and becomes the birdcall of the day. This.

The status update that speaks for many gets shared over a hundred times in the first hour. This.

The download becomes the downturn away from a “this” that cannot be our “is.” It’s just “this.”

This has to change.

And it’s seemingly all because we are earnestly seeking “text” that will help to communicate what it is that we are “coming to” by “looking toward” and “seeing within.” And we are often “wordless.”

The new inquiry–by way of attribution should be–“Who said. . .who wrote. . .who drew. . .who sang. . .who created ‘that?'”

As the text becomes now our “this.”

We are looking for the wordsmiths. The sages. The scholars. The artists. The poets. The students.


We are looking for “this.”

Nearby, in a moment of personal crisis or great danger, the people in need try to come up with a symbol to post, a flag to wave,  a ribbon to affix to the hear. . .just a word. . .any word more commanding than the signal for flame and smoke that used to call the immediate attention of others.

To this.


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