I love language, especially the written word. To read a Shakesperian sonnet or a paragraph of Pat Conroy prose is to be transported to a different place. It takes only a handful of pages of a Deen Koontz novel to be sucked in to the bizarre world of his imaginations. Of course, all of language isn't so lofty or poetic. Common discourse is anything but romantic. We take verbal shortcuts when ordering pizza that we wouldn't take delivering an eulogy. Over time, colloquialisms creep in to our everyday communication. They are not all bad, but there are a few of them that I have grown to despise over the years. For example:
1. Hang in there.
This woeful phrase has been around for most of my life and I have always hated it. How many times have you seen that stupid picture of the kitten hanging onto a tree branch with a wild expression with hang in there at the bottom of the picture? What does it actually mean, this hang in there business? Essentially, it is a totally passive phrase that has no meaning. Hang in there is what you tell someone who has cancer, or is going through a miserable divorce, or is being audited by the IRS. It's what you tell someone to do when there's absolutely nothing to be done. As such, it is defeatist. A better way of saying hang in there would be to say, "Yeah, do nothing and hope things get better." One does not simply hang in there in life. You either do things that improve your lot or you do things that worsen your lot. Hanging in there is for people who have resigned themselves to the whims of fate. No thanks!
2. That's easier said than done.
Well...of course! Everything is easier said than done, literally everything. It's easier to talk about practically anything than it is to do most things. I can talk about hitting a 95 mph fastball for hours on end, but to pick up a bat and stand in the box against Randy Johnson is another matter altogether. There is nothing profound about stating the obvious. Yes, it is much easier to talk about balancing the budget than it is to balance the thing, wildly easier to talk about world peace than to achieve it, and amazingly easier to talk about losing those last ten pounds than to actually lose them.
3. At the end of the day.
This one kills me. It is usually employed in much the same way as someone might say, "when all is said and done," a much more artful expression. People who are fond of using this phrase do so in an attempt to escape having to articulate a more persuasive argument. When a difficult and complicated topic is being hashed out...like maybe global warming...and someone brings up the current 16 year cooling trend, the global warming enthusiast might say in a huff, "Well, at the end of the day, we will all be dead in 25 years if we don't do something about this NOW!!!" At the end of the day most often is used by someone who wants to end a discussion, not start one. It's a quick, pithy way to escape the tall grass of detail by falling back on false simplicity. Politicians love to use at the end of the day to segue away from a discussion about the massive unfounded liabilities of Social Security and Medicaid and on to more comfortable topics..."Sure, we have some financial challenges, but we're gonna figure this out because at the end of the day, we're Americans!!"
As much as these three expressions irritate me, they aren't going away anytime soon. I can try to shame you guys into not using them...but at the end of the day, that's easier said than done so I'll just hang in there!