I’m a writer, so obviously I love words. My problem lately is that certain words and phrases grate on me. Take “adulting “for example, which is the current mantra for young people who happen to believe they’re doing something adults might do. Something mundane, but necessary, like cleaning your house, doing the laundry, and paying the bills. The word comes out as a whiny groan, because who wants to act remotely like a grown-up?
Then there’s “swol” which is a term ascribed to a person who works out and develops muscles. The word sounds like a nasty diagnosis, not a compliment. Then again, maybe the term is meant derisively, because working out involves—as the word implies—work, so maybe that means being “swol” is a physical form of “adulting.”
I almost don’t want to mention “cancelled” but the current meaning ascribed to the term is so prevalent it’s hard to ignore. While we are used to cancelled appointments, the modern version actually cancels people. The visual itself is disturbing. The idea of speaking out against someone with whom we don’t agree is a Constitutional right in this country. However, the general idea is that we protest against someone’s actions or beliefs. The notion that the entire person should be relegated to a trash heap has never been the point If you’re a student of history, perhaps you can see why this type of public shaming might be problematic, especially if it’s applied to a group of people and not a single human being who’s behaved like a boob. The other issue is that if one does not jump on the cancelled bandwagon, then they too are threatened with being cancelled. Wouldn’t it be better if when we disagree with someone or something, we just avoided them? Don’t like what an author put in a book? Don’t read it. Offended by a movie, TV show, or comediane? Don’t watch. But please don’t tell others what they should do. Stick to your own lane.
And how about “my truth”? Something true is defined as “that which is in accordance with fact or reality.” As a former journalist, I take facts very seriously, and it’s my understanding that facts are the same for all of us, despite political folks who think “alternative facts” are a real thing. “My truth” has been defined as “what is true to me based on my own experience and understanding.” That suggests that one may believe whatever they want without justification or proof. I did find another definition for the expression which I think is spot on: “’My truth'” is a pretentions substitute of non-negotiable personal opinion.”
The most ridiculous expression is “we’re pregnant.” I mean, does the man have morning sickness? Does he suffer discomfort caused by a new person growing inside him? Does he experience the trauma and agony of labor? Does he have breasts leaking milk? No, no, no and no! So how, please tell me, do men get included in the pregnancy equation? Note that, yes, men do have to deal with a pregnant partner, but that’s not even remotely the same thing.
I understand that verbiage changes over the generations. When I was growing up we said things like, “Take a chill pill.” “Catch you on the flip side.” “Do me a solid.” “Far out.” and “Groovy.” The difference, I think, is that none of these phrases were the least bit meanspirited, judgmental, or factually incorrect.
So let’s try to be accurate and positive whenever we come up with new ways to say things. Wouldn’t that be better?
Anne Montgomery’s novels can be found wherever books are sold.