By Hannah Chong
Paraphrase (n) - a rewording of something written or spoken by someone else.
One of the most beautiful things about words is that the combinations are endless. There are an infinite number of ways to convey a single idea, if you try hard enough. You can play with synonyms, mess with the syntax, perhaps even come up with a new analogy or metaphor to say something you’ve heard before.
But the magic of possibility is fading. Originality has one foot in the grave, and we’ve buried new ideas with new words that simply reword old ideas.
Our generation is one of paraphrasers.
A lot of people like to pride themselves on their ingenuity, their innovation, their avant garde way of thinking. But when it comes down to it, it’s just putting a new spin on an old adage. What’s the difference between an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 6? More surface area? A slightly better camera? In the end, they do the same things. With both, you can call, text, access the internet, and while away your hours. The difference? A new name, a new face, and a new package.
Originality is on its way out because we like what’s familiar, what’s comfortable. That’s why, after Twilight became a huge success, the number of paranormal romances skyrocketed. That’s why, after The Hunger Games and Divergent, every teen novel seems to be about a world that’s fallen apart. That’s why all of my favorite characters in all of my favorite books are disturbingly similar, and why they’re similar to me. Because humans are creatures of habit, and when that habit is profitable, why not exploit it?
There’s nothing more refreshing than experiencing something new. Whether or not it was a pleasant or terrifying experience, it’s invigorating. Jane Eyre, arguably one of my favorite novels, has my least favorite ending. Although I despised the way that the book wraps up, I loved the fact that I didn’t expect it. The unexpected things in my life are some of my favorite things.
Society has stopped coming out with new albums and has fallen into the pattern of remastering and rereleasing the same content over and over again. We’re exposed to so much content every day that it’s difficult to produce anything without drawing from something familiar. It’s simply inevitable.
Maybe one day our society will be able to find a fresh well of inspiration to draw upon and unearth the old ingenuity that invented the printing press. Until then, it seems that we’re stuck in a cycle of recycle and reuse.
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