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#53 - One Of My Pet Peeves

By KC Johnson


This Is A Symptom Of A Greater Challenge

We all have pet peeves.  You know, those little things that nag at you every time that little thing pops up during your day.  For me, I get a bit irritated at bits of speech or writing that seem to not make great sense.  For instance, you may have noticed that after a period I like to use two spaces rather than the standard one space.  Two spaces give sentences a more definite, standalone characteristic, rather than running all the words together.  Who started that one-space rule, I have no idea, I just like my way better.

Another irritation happens when I hear people say, “I know what you mean.”  Yes, saying that can build a bond with the speaker, but to me, it is just a way of not acknowledging that their agreement stems from their own perspective on the comment and likely is very different than what the speaker was intending.  We may have heard one piece of the overall comment that resonated with our own ideas, and then jumped to the conclusion that every meaning behind the speaker’s words was understood.  I would much rather the listener simply stated what part of the speaker’s words made sense instead of broadly saying, “I know what you mean.”

But one peeve takes center stage, though it is hardly significant in itself.  But it does hint at a larger and very significant issue. I have noticed a sudden, overwhelming usage of the word “less” being used in place of the word “fewer.”  It’s like fewer has been delisted from the annals of acceptable words and is now less is used exclusively by everyone from every day people up through media personalities and leaders in our society -- everywhere.  How did this language insurrection happen?  Why did the rejection of fewer happen?  There must be some credible reason the mass consciousness occurred.

I’ve given this misuse of ‘less’ much thought, especially since I hear it used inappropriately every day. 

Webster’s Dictionary has this to say: 'Fewer' and 'Less'

We all want fewer problems and less trouble.


What to Know

"Generally, fewer is used when the number of things is counted ("fewer problems") whereas less is used when the number is measured ("less trouble" or "less time"). However, this is not a strict rule and there are accepted instances of less being used with countable amounts such as "250 words or less," "3 items or less," and especially with money ("less than $20") and distance ("less than 3 miles")

There's a commonly repeated rule about fewer and less. It goes like this: fewer is used to refer to number among things that are counted, as in "fewer choices" and "fewer problems"; less is used to refer to quantity or amount among things that are measured, as in "less time" and "less effort."

The problem as I see it is that fewer has been totally discarded from present day language.  Sure, there is some overlapping of meaning between the two similar words creating a grey area of confusion.  But it seems the real reason for the discontinuance of the word ‘fewer’ is that it has too many letters, it’s not as easy to spell as less." 

Also, society has become the hostage to fads.  There seems to be a desire to do things in unconventional ways just because it is unconventional.  This is the real point of this article, but more on that later.

We have been using ‘fewer’ for centuries and there is a well-founded basis for using it to describe a lower number of something.  Again, Webster’s Dictionary has this to say as well:

Origins of The Fewer vs Less Rule

"This isn't an example of how modern English is going to the dogs. Less has been used this way for well over a thousand years—nearly as long as there's been a written English language. But for more than 200 years almost every usage writer and English teacher has declared such use to be wrong. The received rule seems to have originated with the critic Robert Baker, who expressed it not as a law but as a matter of personal preference. Somewhere along the way—it's not clear how—his preference was generalized and elevated to an absolute, inviolable rule."

That seems to give credibility to the word ‘fewer.’  But a huge grey area has also developed:

Exceptions to the Rule

"Despite the rule, less used of things that are countable is standard in many contexts, and in fact is more likely than fewer in a few common constructions, especially ones involving distances (as in "less than three miles"), sums of money (as in "less than twenty dollars"), units of time and weight (as in "less than five years" and "less than ten ounces"), and statistical enumerations (as in "less than 50,000 people")—all things which are often thought of as amounts rather than numbers.

The use of less to modify ordinary plural count nouns (as in "made less mistakes") is pretty rare in writing and is usually better avoided, though it does occur frequently in speech.

But less is actually preferred in phrases like "an essay of 250 words or less." It's also—to the chagrin of some—the preferred choice in the supermarket checkout line's "twelve items or less" sign. (Some grocery stores have apparently been convinced by the chagrin, though, and use "items or fewer." They are still very much in the minority.)

Less is common following a number, as in "a package containing three less than the others," and is the typical choice after one, as in "one less worry."

Since I was raised learning the distinction between the two words, I suppose I have been thoroughly indoctrinated to their proper usage.  Hearing misuse triggers my early training on language rules.  And that leads to another important issue.  We do not pass on traditions, whether through our schools, our parents, or common social knowledge. 

It seems today people ‘have to invent’ their own rules.  Social media sites thrive on throwing all kinds of unusual ideas against the wall, then overly support anything that sticks.  We are moving into a “no holds barred” approach to life.  With no basis for using or thinking about something, any combination of factors can become ‘logically’ associated to facts becoming ‘common knowledge.’  I encourage exploration of grammar because languages need to be alive and changeable just like all life needs to be to survive.  But I also advocate for the larger benefits society needs for continuity of traditions, culture and language that serve as the glue that holds the fabric of society together.


This Gives Me Hope For The Future

As we dismantle so many norms and standards followed in the past we begin becoming more and more comfortable with new ideas.  That is, as long as the new ideas fit in with the “story line media wishes to tell.”  This blog has been on a crusade to change the way we approach child-raising and understanding the nature of our personalities.  As a society, we have strayed away from nurturing not only our children, but each other in adulthood. 

The impersonal electronic age has taken a toll on giving each other caring support.  Our technologies and societal beliefs have created workarounds to breast feeding our infants with formulas, encouraging parents to abdicate vital nurturing needs to the schools, supporting the education of children with a reliance on internet sources, and rather than people relying on each other for support we defer to the impersonal social media sites devoid of physical contact.  This impersonal approach we follow has even resulted in laws that criminalize touch and hugging.  Perhaps we are just at the beginning stage of learning the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch in our society.

The challenge for this blog is that we have to find ways to breakthrough the social media chatter and dispel long-held societal beliefs.  Our mission to heal the world has to find not only a way to reach people, but we have to find a way to say things that resonates with others who find our ideas quite removed from that daily chatter.  We especially need to connect with our younger generations, they are our true change-makers.  Gen Z and Gen Alpha youth are our true disruptors trying to navigate through antiquated beliefs and norms.  It is the battle between the old ways and the new. 


Yes, I said heal the world.  Nurturing our children is the only way to systemically change the way we treat our inner self, each other, and our planet.  The behaviors we all see in others that reflect less than loving interactions between people can only be corrected en masse by giving our young generations to come a healthy, holistic, and loving foundation to a healthy life.  We can mitigate the damages from incomplete nurturing through a lot of hard, time consuming effort in adulthood, but even then a person’s childhood  foundation isn’t fully repaired.

The early child development needs are never lost, even into adulthood.  Our sense of self develops at this time period.  This sense of self becomes the filter for all that we say and do throughout our lives.  This lens, created during infancy and the early childhood years, becomes the building blocks for our later development of thoughts.  Traumas experienced in childhood become the core to our personality development, regardless of how deeply we bury and ignore those emotional experiences.

Healthy nurturing prevents and softens the traumas that seem to plague every one of us.  The sense of feeling loved and accepted shapes our lives and becomes the core of our personality development.  This also affects the lives around us as we are able to accept others in more loving ways.  It also changes our physical world as we have a reduced need to manipulate our planet’s resources for the sake of greed.  We can more easily appreciate our contribution to creating healthy eco-systems.

We believe that once a person hears our messaging, and that means hearing it repeatedly, there will be an acceptance of these ideas and an understanding of the need for living a more nurturing lifestyle.  Feeling strong and safe enough to do the deep introspective work needed to love one’s self and desiring to give back to others is a huge step in finding inner peace.  With fulsome nurturing we can greatly minimize the need for judging ourselves and others. 

Judgment is the critical factor in our lives that degrades a healthy sense of self.  It is the tool our inner child used to defend itself from feeling unsafe from traumatic experiences.  Deep introspective work has the ability to release those long-held judgments by helping the inner child to begin feeling safer.  Our younger generation of youth are taking this anti-judgment fight to the rest of society.  It is the fundamental battle we need become a more loving society.

Does This Mean We Are Moving In The Right Direction?

I can get over the misuse of ‘fewer’ and ‘less’ if that means we are becoming more open to adopting new ways of interacting with each other.  Young people have been accustomed to less nurturing with fewer hugs and appropriate touching.  I believe that there is a deep sense of loss by our inner child in absence of being touched, hugged, nurtured, and being supported for we are. 

We have a right to be given a chance to express our lives in creative, loving, and healing ways.  If we can tap into this deep sense of loss felt by our younger people, we might be able to reset our belief system that has become skewed and ineffective.  I believe that is at the core of our Gen Z and Gen Alpha youth as they reset how we need to interact with each other.

We have to break through to the young minds that are malleable enough to leave ineffective standards behind, even those they were raised with as normal, and forge new standards that feed their deepest needs for building a healthier sense of self.  By doing so, by learning to support and nurture each other no matter  the age, we will create a healthy foundation for building solutions to our most vexing problems.  To make this happen, we have to educate parents about nurturing techniques that allow their children to develop that healthier sense of self.

Technology cannot solve this problem, except through more effective communication methods.  Society follows the lead of our young minds.  Unfortunately, we have resistant adults controlling the gears of education making it more difficult for the youth to create solutions we all need.  Just as The Peter Principle is true for so much of society’s structure, our ‘leadership’ is often composed of decrepit minds who are only effective at promoting their learned standards, and at worst, maximizing their power base.  We need thinkers who are allowed to generate ideas that actually have a chance of solving real problems, and not having to fight for the crumbs the ‘leaders’ dole out that don’t interfere with that power base.

One of my favorite movies is “Tomorrowland,” a George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy science fiction movie about discovering what is possible for us.  A precocious girl supported by her single-parent dad is fascinated with science and technology.  She opens our eyes to a future far expanded from our mundane approaches to daily life.  It’s a feel-good movie that re-ignites my childhood desire to build a world free from the social constraints we are now burdened with following.

Our young people are the ideal place to break this emotionally isolating cycle.  They have the capability to viscerally understand the impact of not being supported and cared for in a nurturing way since they have to face the daily challenges of maturing without their deepest inner needs being met.  If they are nurtured, they will pass those skills and unconditional love on to their offspring and friends, breaking that cycle.

The concepts of fulsome nurturing for our young starting at birth and continuing through adulthood builds within the individual the inner security to explore, to care about others, to love life, and to heal the world.  The well-nurtured person does not grow into a manipulator or a decrepit thinker or a controlling power broker.  Even when we were not well-nurtured in youth, we can heal much of that inner person in later life.  We can nurture the adult as well as re-nurture our inner child.  Remember, fewer hugs result in feeling less secure, less able to love. - kc

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About US

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This blog has been a work of love developed over the past ten years and finally brought to life through the dedicated tech help by Soren, who was originally my physical therapist and now is a time-limited partner who managers two other martial arts training centers. Being an old gay guy I struggle to function well in the blog-a-sphere so this presentation will be a bit rough at first. Feel free to lend your ideas.


Since my teen years I have believed that through appropriate touch we can heal ourselves. But the journey to better understand my own dynamics and gain enough awareness to be able to write about our complex humanness only coalesced after I had an opportunity to be in prison. There I had time to do deep self-examinations about why I was who I am and how I could translate that into helping others make discoveries for themselves. I do not claim to be a professional therapist or counselor.


But I do believe there are others in this world who might benefit from these ideas presented in this blog platform. Having grown to the point of releasing nearly all of my fears and can now truly say that I love every moment and feel in partnership with my soul, I feel that others may benefit from my travels. Being non-judgmental I welcome your insights, whatever they may be, and I will strive to help everyone find greater peace in their lives. and Hoshow, LLC.


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