Buzzwords pop up in the culture to reflect the mood of the time, and become popular when they strike a nerve. A few are okay, but some are just eggregious – in the way that they are inescapable, the way that they don’t convey actual meaning, in the way that they are sometimes just flat-out made-up words and nobody calls bullshit on them.
Here are a few of my least favorites, which seem to be everywhere these days.
Okay, I lied … I actually kind of like this one. It’s used to describe advice or instructions that can be put into practice right away, as opposed to a nebulous or philosophical concept. I’m pretty sure it’s a made-up word, though – “action” is the noun form of the verb “to act,” and adding “able” to make it into an adjective is to torture the word to death.
This one is made up, and I hate it, because it’s at the top of so many resumes, sitting there looking stupid and making the person submitting the resume look stupid right along with it. There is a word “visualize,” with its relatives “vizulaization” and “visualizing,” but according to this HuffPo article, that’s totally different. Buzzwords don’t get more lame than this.
Let’s stay on the vulgar abuse of gerunds for a second. I actually like the buzzword “adulting,” which is what you do when you’re paying your bills, cleaning your house, and doing things generally less self-indulgent than playing video games or dancing in a club. Maybe I like “adulting” because as a y-llennial I identify with it a little bit. Or maybe I like it because no one takes it seriously – if “adulting” finds its way into the conversation, everyone is in on the joke. But someone can say “We’re efforting that as we speak!” or “I’m great at visioning!” and expect to be taken seriously in a meeting or interview. I will not be taking them seriously.
When I tell people I have my own business, they usually reply “Oh, like a start-up?” I typically push back at it by saying “I don’t call it that, because ‘start-up’ is buzzword-y. It’s just a business.” Most people look like they’ve been startled out of a waking dream when I say that, and then they usually agree with me. This is a buzzword that has proliferated to add a veneer of respectability to something that doesn’t need it. To suggest that “starting a business” needs to be prettied up (or made to sound more like “money” for co-ed cocktail parties) is to suggest that it’s an inherently lowbrow practice. It isn’t.
What buzzwords do you find annoying?