NOSEBLEED: Narrowing Your Mind

“The arson victim died of asphyxiation largely due to carbon dioxide intoxication, with diminutive indications of oxygen loss, which is vital for respiratory processes and consciousness.” (The fire victim was choked dead because he was poisoned by too much carbon dioxide in the air, not because he lacked oxygen, which is needed to keep him conscious and breathing.)

Wait sâ! Nosebleed! Or how about this…

“Greetings! Who art thou that callest? Why dost thou summon mine helpmeet?” which can be translated into, “Hello, who is this? Why are you calling my wife?”

One more…

“Scintillate, scintillate, o diminutive asteroid!” (Twinkle, twinkle, little star.)

This is what ‘nosebleeding’ is as we know it: heads up while holding our noses, as if we really had blood running from it. Because of what? These weird words and strange sentences could just be the answer.

What insanity is this—bleeding over hard to understand words? In a university setting where there are more deep and technical words than easy to understand words, no wonder why most students cry out, “nosebleed!” If ‘nosebleeding’ were a real thing, the whole campus would be drenching with blood from all our hemorrhages. It might seem morbid and gross, but with a different definition of ‘nosebleeding’, it wouldn’t appear so horrid after all.

How and where the usage of this term started—no one knows, but look how it has spread. Like a match, nosebleed sparked and burned through the whole campus. Because it can be made into an alibi to excuse ourselves from taking seriously certain ‘nosebleedable’ words and statements, it was readily accepted by students like us, and even a handful of faculty and staff. But why this craze?

Nosebleed is simply nasal hemorrhage. ‘Epistaxis’ is the technical term for it. Medically, a person may nosebleed because of trauma, nose picking, or the like. Other causes are systemic, such as drug intake or unstable pregnancies. Nosebleeds, however, cannot be caused by academic difficulties or etymological ambiguities whatsoever. Then why is it popular on campus?

Early accounts of ‘nosebleeding’ were some form of poking humor on the English language. Filipinos usually lack good English diction because we are not accustomed to use our nasals, which are used by native English speakers. That’s why some Pinoys who try to mimic native English speaking are supposedly prone to these nasal hemorrhages or ‘nosebleeds’. The same would apply to the not-so-good-in-English people who would happen to listen and understand what they hear.

This led to the humorous popularity of Inday. She’s a fictional househelp who is a fluent ‘Inglesera’. Her statement, packed with all deep words and innuendos, were said to make the upper class people (like her ‘amos’ , the principal, etc.) “bleed right from their noses”. You might have read some of her dialogue in SMS or Inday blogs. Hoping to entertain the students, the Amaranth even published some of these entertaining collections in the most recent issue.

Then on, the ‘nosebleeding’ became an epidemic tendency for everyone. English is then not the only one vulnerable to it every school subject is. Postulates, prophylaxes, and 1,2-dibromo-3-methyl-1-pentene are considered ‘nosebleedable’. Add and the list is endless. Whether the context is serious or not, ‘nosebleeding’ usually adds color whatever the situation is.

Filipinos always find humor in odd places. To us, everything has its brighter side that we should look for. And like a diamond, we have cut through another facet in our academic life and gave a new glitter to it.

However, little have we though about the intellectual laxity it produces us. We study because we want to learn. While our professors try hard to let our minds absorb every bit of info we need, our nosebleed tendencies tell us to be lazy on our efforts to understand. It then becomes an effective alibi not to learn. We shut our brains and turn down challenges. (That is why I perceive about a devolution process—from man to apes—the opposite of what Darwin says.) That’s the sadder part of the humor. ‘Nosebleeding’ narrows our mind that the bigger chunks of truth won’t be able to enter.

Actually we nosebleed because we don’t want to get pressured. The younger generation has now become fond of texting, television, computers, the Internet, and even malling, that reading has become more and more unpopular as a pastime. As known, reading is where we learn a lot, like new words that broaden our vocabulary. However, we assume that reading is just for the geeks that’s why we are afraid to be taunted as a genius.

Although I see no moral issues provoked by using ‘nosebleeds’ in the aspects of school and learning, this simple humor can become a harmful hindrance to our learning process. If we do not know how to place it in the proper context, consequences might be damaging. I believe no responsible student would want a narrow mind.

We should be proper on our attitude towards nosebleed. I’m quite sure classrooms shouldn’t make room for them. (Plus the fact that they don’t have first aid kits!). We should instead be open minded with our lessons and strive to understand even difficult words and alien sentences our professors might say. Don’t close the door to your mind even before the information manages to knock.

In reality, ‘nosebleeds’ are just controversial because it concerns our vocabulary (and our knowledge bank, to the lesser extent). That is why some students who have wider vocabularies in campus don’t use the term more often than others do. It is because they can understand the words.

The key to having a wider vocabulary and lesser ‘nosebleeds’ is to read a lot, and to consult dictionaries and thesauri (plur., thesaurus) more often. I know of a person who uses this type of resources regularly: he grabs a dictionary whenever he can’t understand a certain word; he turns to a thesaurus to see a similar word, and opens an encyclopedia whenever he thinks of an interesting matter. These are hallmarks of a broadening mind. That is why it really pays to read—I can’t emphasize this point strong enough.

So does this mean we have to do away with ‘nosebleeds’? It’s up to us, but I don’t think it as necessary. You see, sometimes it’s healthy (since laughter is the best medicine, ‘ika nga). Of course, if we use it in the right place. When it is free time to unwind, bleed all you want! It can be a great and funny way of venting out your exhausts as long as it does not stifle with your intelligence. Just don’t forget to bring gauzes and towels!

You don’t want to perish due to acute nasal hemorrhage resulting to excessive external bleeding and severe blood loss. (Need a dictionary?) Nosebleed!

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