Internet-speak is improving English because empathy

Take the peculiarly witty locution that the American Dialect Society just anointed as the word of the year, the new because. It is now acceptable, at least in tweets and such, to write things like “I stayed home because weather,” “I just eat them by the handful because chocolate,” and “Dow closes at record high for 35th time this year because Obama.”

Some have suggested that this new usage hotly insists that something is “a completely valid incredibly important thing to be doing.” However, that one doesn’t really work for things like the weather, or “Going to bed at nine because tired.” What all of these usages of the new because have in common is that they imply that the reader shares the same specific, many-layered feeling about the thing referred to—i.e. the particular joy of chocolate or the particular state of the weather at a given time and what the proper responses are to it.

That is, the new because is about the mental nuances that we all have in common. It reaches out—the linguistic expression of a lifted eyebrow, a stretched out vowel (think Homer Simpson’s “Mmm, chahhhhhh-colaaaate …”), or a touch on the arm.