What bugs me about it, I guess, is that people use it because it’s shallow and trendy. What’s wrong with “thrown to the wolves” or “made a scapegoat”? Those phrases mean the same thing and each has a history. Each can be visualized. People have been thrown to the wolves, and according to Dictionary.com “scapegoat” originated with “a goat let loose in the wilderness on Yom Kippur after the high priest symbolically laid the sins of the people on its head. Lev. 16:8,10,26.” Has anyone ever been thrown under a bus? No. So let’s all stop saying it okay?Words and phrases become faddish as if they were clothing or hairstyles. Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote a piece in The New York Times last week, for example, about overuse of the word “authentic.” As an example, she quoted Anderson Cooper’s comments about his new show: “In everything I’ve done, I’ve always tried to just be authentic and real.”
That's oxymoronic. We don't try to be authentic. If you have to try, you failed. If you have to tell people you’re authentic, you probably aren’t. The best we can say about Cooper’s comments is that he’s tempted to be phony and is struggling to resist.
Also quoted by Rosenbloom was Naomi S. Baron, author of “Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World.” Baron says the word “awesome” is so overused it has become devoid of meaning: “Technically it should be used to describe an awe-inspiring sight like the fjords in Norway, but these days ‘awesome’ is a perfectly acceptable response to something as mundane as ‘I can meet you for lunch at noon.’”
Almost every day I hear about how someone has “signed off on” something or other. Growing up, I’d hear a radio or TV personality say he was “signing off” as his program was ending. I’d hear friends say they’d “signed on” to a four-year hitch in the Marines. So, to say one has “signed off on” something seems confusing at least if not contradictory. Let’s avoid it and just say approved or endorsed okay?
And then there’s “moving forward.” That’s tiresome too. At dull meetings, it’s used either at the beginning or at the end of proposals for change, like: “Moving forward, we’re going to do it this way,” or “This is the protocol moving forward” - as if any other method would be moving backward. Sometimes it’s just a filler, like “ahh” or a prolonged “aannnnndd . . . ” all of which which President Obama uses when he’s forced to speak without his teleprompter and needs time to figure out what he’s going to say next. I hear “moving forward” most often from people who call themselves “progressive,” as if a different perspective must be regressive.
“Have this conversation” is another tiresome phrase, as in “He and I are going to have this conversation.” If you have a script for how a conversation is going to go, it’s not really a conversation is it? To converse requires give and take, a sharing of ideas to see what emerges. Saying you’re going to have a conversation is a veiled threat, a weak attempt to talk tough. If a boss has to give instructions, he or she should just deliver them directly and avoid the pretense of being open to alternatives.
One of the benefits of being a retired public school teacher is that I haven’t heard anyone say “Whatever!” or “I’m like, ‘Oh my God’!” or “I’m like, so ‘Oh my God’!” for almost three months now.
And that’s been nice.