About 20 years ago, I noticed the emergence of a peculiar speaking style in a handful of television programs that came to be known as “reality TV.” I scratched my head in bewilderment as the style gained momentum and proliferated, such that it was soon observable on not only the “reality” TV shows that seem to have spawned it, but to newscasts, political discussion shows, and even politicians’ speeches and “debates” (or whatever pass for debates today).
The speaking style in question is characterized by what I refer to as “verbal vomit”: The speaker anxiously spews forth a stream of uninterrupted words for as long as possible, and then a little bit longer, barely taking a breath or a pause. It is thoroughly contrived, and thoroughly absurd. It utterly ignores and leaves behind any semblance of thought, and, as far as I can tell, it is driven manically onward by the two-headed hyrda of assuming: 1) as long as you go on talking, people will find you interesting, no matter what you say or if it makes sense; and 2) if you represent yourself authentically—i.e., as a human being who thinks, has ideas, and communicates them accordingly in one’s own voice with it’s unique cadences and idiosyncrasies—the audience will think you’re boring and stop paying attention, in which case you are leaving yourself vulnerable to attack, your opponents will crush you, and your memory will be forever lost in the sands of time.
The really disturbing part of this phenomenon, to me, is the degree to which the American public appears to have accepted this style of oration, despite the fact that it utterly leaves the listener behind, prevents the speaker from being held accountable (“DON’T INTERRUPT ME!!”), and facilitates and enables the sort of vapid drivel—such as insult-slinging and pandering, simplistic, bombastic, cynical rhetoric—that now passes for political dialogue in our country.