It’s time once again to reveal some of my trade secrets for writing a blog. Pull back the curtain. Spill the beans. Show how the sausage is made.
Today’s lesson: How to make fun of things that deserve to be made fun of because … well, because they’re easy targets and remarkably ridiculous.
In case my brand of irony isn’t obvious enough, I don’t use cringe-worthy idioms because I like them. I loathe them. I intend instead to demonstrate the absurdity of using words and phrases whose meaning and usefulness — if they ever had any to begin with — soon wears off.
Because of my day job as editor of a business journal, I’ll focus my efforts for now on phrases used at work.
Prebly, a company that provides a language learning application and e-learning platform, recently surveyed more than 1,000 people about their perceptions of office buzzwords. You know. Those phrases and terms that initially seem impressive, but on subsequent reflection mean little. In other and better words — thank you again William Shakespeare — full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Fully 42 percent of those who responded to the survey cited “new normal” as the most annoying new buzzword of all. If the new normal includes the use of the phrase new normal, who wouldn’t be sick of that? “Lean in” came in a distant second at 18 percent, followed close behind by “hop on a call,” “level up” and “out of pocket.”
Other phrases also garnered disdain, among them “circle back” and “boots on the ground.” That’s not to mention “work hard, play hard” and such other terms that remind people of the stress of their jobs as “fast-paced environment” and “hustle.”
For that matter, people weren’t particularly fond of the comparisons sometimes ascribed to expectations for their performance, including “rock star,” “guru” or “ninja.” Weren’t ninjas mercenaries in feudal Japan whose covert methods were deemed dishonorable? That’s a plus? Maybe if someone at work deserves to be stabbed in the back. With throwing stars.
According to the survey results, generational differences affect the use of buzzwords. Members of Generation Z — those born between 1996 and 2015 and the newest additions to the work force — prefer “vibe,” “lit” and “basic.”
As a member of the nearly fossilized Baby Boom generation, I’d need a translator to understand what they’re talking about. Of course, they’d probably feel the same way if I ever gave into the temptation to “sharpen my quill.”
I suppose my secrets about writing blogs really aren’t. They’re obvious. Choose a topic that’s easy to ridicule, exaggerate more than a little and throw in some irony for good measure.
As for using buzzwords, don’t.