CHAPEL HILL, NC—After Roger Bollen, station manager of WXYC, captioned his new profile picture with a single “m,” he and other WXYC staff produced a string of comments under the blurry screen-capped photo of a dog training video that, according to linguistic experts, culminated in the destruction of the English language, at last rending syntax from meaning.
The conversation began around 8:40 pm when Bollen, who has DJed at WXYC since his freshman year, located a particularly enigmatic sequence in a Youtube video of a corgi being taught a trick in the 1980s. He promptly uploaded a screen-capture to his Facebook.
Trent Unson, a new DJ, commented.
“kk,” he posted.
The comment gained likes quickly, five in just a few minutes.
“hap to sea (read as C), you-r happ-y,” followed sophomore DJ Griffin Rezom.
For many linguists, this style of conversation is expected among hipster subgroups.
“What creates meaning in language is the attempt to convey information, thought, or feeling” said Shelton Tronen, linguistics professor. “Hipsters, in an effort to reject any uncritical embrace of the cultural norms that mediate meaning, associate ‘coolness’ with the ironic caricature of those norms. It makes their speech hard to decode.
“However, the avant-garde nature of WXYC Facebook conversations, like that of the station itself, goes far beyond what we’d see with the typical hipster subgroup, to the point that words serve only to heighten linguistic discord and obscure any possible meaning behind shifting and unstable layers of irony.”
To illustrate his analysis, Tronen pointed to later comments in the conversation, which he said rapidly descended into “the WXYC wormhole.”
DJ Lucas Rason, upon seeing the profile picture in question, posted a string of comments.
“which is you?,” he said.
He quickly followed with “fuck just dog,” and “sorry guyz(s)^2.”
Several minutes later, he added “where’s the door, how do i leave the comments? fuck?”
All received three to five likes.
Pollen came back into the thread to fully cast the conversation into the wormhole, typing “fired” and then “get base 2.”
Anna Yon finished the death of language by posting five consecutive pictures of toenails on floors, before typing, “123u8cuqe9fbDfklnAsl-dads.”
“The amount of insecurity is striking in the wormhole,” said Tronen. “WXYC DJs seemed to have jettisoned any semblance of sincerity long ago, leaving their sarcasm with nothing to strip away but the most basic components of communication.
“Their solace is to look down on anyone who would attempt anything earnestly,” Trenon added. “The alienated state in which this leaves them must be what lets one relate to the noises played so often on WXYC.”