By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
These terms are “so last year”
Got some words or phrases that make you crazy?
For whatever reason, the past year or two has driven far too many of us into near gibberish baby-talk.
We could blame it on isolation or on the crudest, lowest common denominator of social media, but however it happened, we all find ourselves adrift in a world of slogans and sound bites that, for better or worse, seem to express our (not so) deep thoughts and observations about life and the challenges before us.
Or, as one university put it, these are “words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical — and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.”
Here are a few phrases and terms that define our era, and to a large degree, defy common sense – and usually standard grammar.
Yes, that ever-present two-part halting interrogative, according to one university English Department, is “disingenuous, divergent, deflective, and other damning words that begin with the letter ‘d’”
It does, in its defense, in its distinct, cobbled way, capture, even embody the disembodied puzzlement of our times when nature, politics, the economy, the weather, our relationships and even the status of our own bodies seems to lead us into perpetual confusion and uncertainty.
Could any of us a year or two ago imagine a time when we needed to get a test to see if we were sick?
Didn’t we all just know it back then?
But now we don’t seem to know anything.
But our “certainty” is, apparently, as solid as ever.
Asking for a friend
Some terms are inherently absurd or even ironic. “Asking for a friend” is one of those terms.
I’ve only used that term a few times, and I’ve never meant it seriously. Is that even possible?
This term may have been a bit cute the first few times. But that was a long time ago.
Circle back and deep dive
If we needed a phrase (or in this case, two) that capture the essence of pointless meandering in an endless maze that seems to define our era, these two terms would be it.
Circling back certainly seems to sum up the feeling of endless COVID surges and economic reversals that seem to emerge in front of – and behind and all around us.
Deep dive is the perfect term for those armchair experts on everything from our Constitution to epidemiology.
The term deep dive apparently refers to watching more than one YouTube video on any given subject.
That is apparently enough to counter any professionals who might have spent years researching any given topic.
Reading an actual book, or even more extreme, writing a peer-reviewed article on a topic is considered “elitist” by these instant interweb experts on everything.
It’s the new normal
This is a term I’ve used, but I can’t help having the sense that there never was a consensus as to what “normal” ever was. Or could be. Or might be.
Or should be.
Or what kind of marker we would see when we have arrived there.
“Normal” is the ultimate moving target.
And what word has a shorter shelf-life than “new”?
Anything “normal” is, or once was,”new”.
Is the word “normal” aspirational? Sarcastic? Nostalgic?
These past few years have been so crazy that I’d settle for even a slightly used, maybe even refurbished “normal”.
When it comes to intrusive meaninglessness, you can’t beat a term like “No worries”.
Is that a dismissal? A farewell? A thank you or term of appreciation.
Either way, thanks for telling me not to worry. It really helps.
Yes, virtually everything that makes its way into our homes or on our plates is the end result of a system of vendors, marketers and retailers.
The terms “supply chain” has become the go-to scapegoat of everything that doesn’t happen or arrive on time and of every shortage.
We’re building the plane while flying it
Some phrases, like this one, are so disconnected from reality, yet somehow familiar that we rarely notice how absurd they are.
Maybe it’s just me, but if I fly in a plane, or drive a car, I expect my vehicle to be fully operational.
Long before the journey.
If it isn’t, the journey will certainly be short.
Somehow, in previous eras, we got along just fine without verbal flatulence like these terms.
There was a mythical time, so I hear, when speaking simply and clearly, using words with actual meanings was common among at least some people walking the earth.
If they ever existed, those days are long gone.
A clear and coherent, or even inspiring, statement would be rarely recognized or appreciated in today’s public discourses.
We have become so accustomed to gibberish and incoherence that we can barely even acknowledge the thought of a politician or public speaker saying anything worth listening to.
We don’t need social media to ramp up the volume and drown out reason and decency, we can be just as opinionated, ignorant and arrogant without it.
Social media just makes it easier.