Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Words Matter

By Dennis Hinkamp

“Famous last Snapchats” — not likely.

I flirt with photography, but I’m committed to words.

On any given day I have a harem of cameras in my car. I have cameras on drones, one for underwater, two for video in case the first one fails. I have one that shoots 360 degrees, another that shoots infrared and of course don’t forget that every phone and pad/tablet thing you own has one or two cameras. I think the new iPhone will have 12 cameras and an endoscope. I have yet to get a dashboard camera, but I am looking into it.

My lenses are the pretty bobbles that adorn my vixens. There’s a macro for insects, a telephoto for birds and deer, an 85 mm for portraits, a fish eye for close ups, a 24-105mm for interviews and a pancake 25mm for walking around. I don’t really need all of these. The reason you have a harem is for variety, not necessity.

I only need a notepad and scraps of paper to jot down words I don’t want to forget, but I need my brothel of cameras just in case the perfect sunset, Big Foot or real crime jumps out in front of me. I guess I have always had FOMO but the fear is of missing an image or thought rather than a personal exploit.

Though I agree with the cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words, I have to ask “which thousand words and who wrote them?” Photos can serve the same purpose on the outside of Hallmark cards as the words on the inside; some people need pro­­­fessional help expressing their feelings or capturing a moment.

Being married to words and having cameras as mistresses assures that almost everything I see or read simultaneously interests and annoys me. This is good for creatively though bad for sleep. For instance, stock photography makes my brain simmer.

“Why yes, that attractive dentist, who is really an actor between gigs, appears to be working not only in Utah but seven other states simultaneously. How statistically odd is that?” I think. That sunset promoting tourism in Wyoming was actually shot in Idaho. What’s a few hundred miles? However, if I confused Twin Falls, Idaho with Powell, Wyoming in a written piece I would probably get fired or at least laughed at largely.

On the word side, “further” and “farther,” “more than” and “over” even on fast food signs can drive me off the side of the road. And don’t get me started on you’re, your and yore. These are just gross syntactical annoyances; the real brain graters are the trendy words. In no particular order: drill down, deep dive, unpack, at the end of the day, let’s do this, tiny home, that would be great, push back, take it to the next level, dog whistle, lean in and elevator speech are among the current most annoying.

In my last column I discussed the banality and escalation of people saying “have a nice, good, great, fantastic, ebullient,” etc. day. At least if you said something like “have a day like no other” you would be technically correct. Having a nice day is unverifiable.

I’m not sure if the future will bring famous last Snapchats, but “famous last words” still has a better, more mysterious ring to it. Of course most of us will not have the time to compose our last words so I’m going to be preemptive and choose this quotation from the play and movie Talk Radio:

“Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words cause serious damage.”

Dennis Hinkamp urges you to express yourself, whether it is in words or photos.

This article was originally published on October 30, 2017.