Earlier this month, BoomerCafé contributor Erin O’Brien wrote about the phrase that has caught fire… and set some of us boomers on fire: “OK Boomer.” Well, Glendale, California writer and college English teacher Bill Cushing wrote to us after reading her piece and said he supports her sentiments. And, he said, he would add some phrases and expressions that he’d like to see become extinct, “not just from English, but from the entirety of human thought and comprehension.” So we said, go ahead!
First, a confession: I am an English major and college instructor as well as being a writer, so perhaps I nitpick, but hey, that’s my job. At any rate, on to my linguistic crusade against vilified vernacular.
• “You can do anything you set your mind to.”
Now admittedly, I am rarely high on “motivational sayings” of any sort although I concede, they can serve a purpose. However, this one in particular bothers me. Its implied promise of the certainty of outcomes based purely on the intensity of intent is self-deceptive. It constitutes results too easily unfulfilled, making it fanciful. To those embracing this statement, I offer a challenge: If indeed one can “do anything” simply by giving it effort, slam a revolving door. Should be easy, right?
• “The first annual (insert preferred event here).”
There is no such thing. Period. The first is just that, the “first.” If you pull it off and have it again next year, then (and only then) you may call it “annual.” I think what bothers me most on this one is that I see it far too often on flyers about campus events. I assume somewhere in there a faculty member was involved in the thing, so how does this one keep getting through? As a side note, this verifies my opinion that having a post-grad degree doesn’t necessarily make one smart.
• “Mic drop!”
I saved the best (worst?) for last. This is the one contemporary phrase (or action) that I would love to see its practitioners eradicated for. This line essentially tells listeners (or viewers) that whatever has just been said is the absolute final word on the topic and any further discussion is futile and fruitless. To which I say, “Hogwash!”
Actually, I’d say something else, but there may be children present. . .
Call it my inner curmudgeon or blame it on my ideological bent, but just because someone says something cute or clever or smarmy, it does not erase the need for any further discussion. The arrogance built into this phrase is so exponentially high that— as I said earlier— I think we should allow bystanders to tar and feather the offending party. In reality, this is not the first exemplar of cockiness. Years ago, when I first saw the “In case of rapture, this car will be empty” bumper sticker, I bristled as well. After all, isn’t that God’s decision?
There are other expressions that rankle me— being told to “listen” while I’m on the phone or someone having an “original copy” rank up there— but I find these three especially loathsome. They need to be annihilated, post haste.
Bill has a new book of poems called “A Former Life.” You can order it here.