Words matter. In world where “humblebrag” is in the dictionary and alternative facts are a thing, words matter.
A familiar cliche, idiom, or figure of speech may be the quickest, easiest way to make a point. Like shorthand or emojis even, some sayings are loaded with meaning.
Without it realizing, words can shape our perspective, how we think, how we relate to others, how we communicate.
I hate when people say that. Examples:
Healthcare marketing promotes “preventive care.” You can detect early, find treatment, perhaps save a life. But are you going to prevent lupus or ALS or cancer? I don’t think so.
Another healthcare example is “regular checkup.” In the real world where it takes months to get an appointment, most people don’t go to a doctor unless they need something. By then there’s little that’s routine or preventive about it.
It’s language that puts blame where it doesn’t lie, as if someone with a chronic illness is at fault for their DNA. Or had the poor planning to wake up with laryngitis. Without an appointment. On a weekend. (Hello, urgent care.)
“Everything happens for a reason.” Erika Napoletano covered that one pretty well.
I have issues with “age appropriate,” being both sizeist and sexist when used to describe fashion, clothes.
When it’s directed at girls, it has some validity. Like Halloween when social media goes nuts as retailers market sexy costumes. To toddlers.
For adult women it’s code speak for “size appropriate.” I look at the pretty clothes, read Fug Girls and red carpet reviews. If the celeb is thin, the dress is OK and comments be like ‘look at those legs! at 50?!’
But whatever the age, there’s many a “I was sized shamed” post about wearing shorts or shopping for clothes, whilst being a non size-8 woman. See also: how Buzzfeed makes a living.
For boys or men.. wait. Sexist prom dress codes, check. Double standard, gender biased in the workplace dress codes, check. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard ‘age appropriate’ in terms of what a man is wearing.
What Words Matter To You?
It’s the writer in me, the professional business communicator. Maybe it’s a business buzzword or harmless platitude that’s not so harmless.
Is there a figure of speech you just don’t like? Tell me why.