I was just riding along yesterday, having a conversation. Here are some things that were said:
- “I totally agree.”
- “I just don’t like it.”
- “It’s, like, so beautiful.”
- “Now that is a game changer.”
- “That result was legit. Totally legit.”
- “The terminology indicates that … .”
- “She’s on the spectrum of autism.”
- “That approach is way out there.”
- “I feel like the design works.”
- “You’ll need to ramp up your practicing.”
- “I can relate to his situation.”
- “Fuck that sucks.”
I thought about these expressions and wondered why we don’t say:
- “I agree.”
- “I don’t like it.”
- “It’s so beautiful.”
- “Now that will really change things.”
- “That result was genuine.”
- “The word means that … “
- “She is within the range of autism.”
- “That approach is extreme.”
- “I think the design works.”
- “You’ll need to practice more.”
- “I can understand his situation.”
- “I hate that.”
Then, as the day wore on, I began noticing even more of these throwaway #branded words in the conversations of others. I tried to understand why people speak this way. What do we really add by using words like “game-changer,” and scientific-sounding words like “spectrum”?
So I came up with three categories into which these words fall.
One–words that make you sound smarter.
Two–words that make you sound younger.
Three–words that make noise to drive out the silence.
This first category of words doesn’t make you sound smarter. People inject specific words that come from science into daily conversation so that an ordinary sentence appears mightier than it really is. A “spectrum” of something is so much more analytical and the result of your incisive mind than a “range.” Of course like most things that are hung here and there for decoration, these words cover up the fact that the content of the sentence is rather bare, along with the mind of the person making the utterance.
The second category issues forth from the verbal Fountain of Youth. If we can adopt the silly things that young people say, perhaps we can be young, too, similar to the late 60-ish, worn-out old man walking down the sidewalk in Manhattan Beach in flip-flops, board shorts, and a t-shirt from 2011 that celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Hustler Casino. Yes, I saw that. Old Guys Rule in Manhattan Beach financially, but when they dress like children they look silly.
But what words like “duh” (1990s) and “far out” (1960s) really do is date you, because by the time you’ve picked up on the slang, the hippest people have moved on. Actually, they haven’t. They’ve gotten older and are now mired in their own dated speech, and the newest hip words are spoken by a new group of people known as “young.” But since you don’t have access to them, you are stuck with the fashionable words of people twenty years your junior, which eventually becomes its own form of carbon-dating.
The third category is the worst. These are words that kill silence simply for the sake of the murder. Silence, folks, is okay. Long pauses often mean that the other person, or even you, are thinking. Some ideas defy immediate formulation, and have to be worked on, like a tall tree with a small axe.
As some really accomplished musician once said, “Music is what happens between the notes.”
Conversation, real conversation, is the same. It’s what happens … between the words.
Read this far? Then maybe it’s time to Go ahead and hit this “subscribe” link. Thank you!