Teacher Tales: Insert Buzzword Here

They’re everywhere we look. Idioms and phrases we hear and repeat become so deeply ingrained in our consciousness that we do not think about, or even realize, that we use these idioms to death. Buzzwords that often mean nothing by themselves take on an almost mystical and enchanted life when they are combined with products we don’t often associate with excellence.  I am old enough to remember the “Where’s the beef?” craze that seemingly swept the entire world, and I am not sad that it is slowly disappearing from the lexicon of our daily language.

I try to “live and let live,” especially when I know I disagree with something I’ve heard or read that seems wonky. It’s tough to do, and I must admit, I don’t always succeed. However, I think I have a valid gripe when it comes to advertising copy creators who use the word “craft.” My sub sandwich was not crafted by a sandwich artist; it was assembled, at best. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. There certainly are craftspeople who genuinely craft many wonderful and intricate items for the folks like me who have zero ability to do so, but I don’t often hear those people tossing the word “craft” around.

In my opinion, the word “craft” signifies some artistic vision, combined with carefully chosen materials, and masterfully executed. Amish carpenters and woodworkers craft beautiful pieces of furniture. Sculptors craft pieces from formless chunks of stone. My roast beef sandwich, no matter how delicious, is still just a sandwich.

No matter how often I hear “ground zero” used to describe the epicenter of a disaster, I can’t bring myself to think of that phrase meaning anything other than the impact point of a nuclear strike. There isn’t anything that’s “on fleek,” but we can be “on point”, or even “spot on”. Perhaps the buzz phrase which is most insidious is “YOLO”. Every time I hear someone who has succumbed to its ostensibly inspirational message, I want to scream at them, “Of course you only live once, you chowder-head!”

But all of this is not really our fault. Very clever people strategically ”craft” and place these phrases in advertising. Pundits and politicians use these words in an effort to reach the masses, because apparently, we are not nearly as intelligent as we think we are. However, even the most intelligent and sensible of us fall into the “buzzword trap” now and again. A good friend of mine, who is a wonderful author, has begun to use nouns as verbs. She recently told me she was unhappy that she had to “people today,”and that she was unhappy that she also had “to adult” with those people. I only hope that I can “lifeboat her” before she drowns in this strange and unconventional sea.

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