Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got somethin’ to say, but nuthin’ comes out when they move their lips, just a bunch of gibberish.
That’s one of my favorite Eminem lyrics. It speaks to my disdain for obfuscation. A lot of people just can’t straight out say what they really mean, and it bugs the hell out of me.
I’ll use myself as an example, since I’m as indoctrinated in euphemistic bullshit as anyone else. When people ask what I do, I tell them I’m an “independent writer and editor.” What that really means is I’m an unemployed journalist.
Now that I’ve launched my own web site, I suppose I could get away with calling myself a blogger. But that would just be a euphemism for “I ain’t gettin’ paid.”
Not for nuthin’, but we all need to pay more attention to how honest we are with ourselves and others. That doesn’t mean being rude — no one likes an asshole — but it also doesn’t mean buying into the culture of bullshit that’s infected the nation.
Corporate-speak is particularly odious in that regard. One day, sometime in the past couple of decades, some little gray corporate weasel sat down and invented the term “Reduction in Force” as a substitute for “You’re fired — now get the fuck out.” Then little baby weasels shortened that euphemism to “RIF,” as in, “You’ve been RIFfed.” Suddenly, getting canned sounded like a performance by a jazz combo.
And don’t get me started on politics. Ever read a piece of legislation? It’s like reading a lesson called “How to Use Twenty Words When Two Will Do.”
Want to know why the courts are jammed up? It’s not because there’s more crime. It’s because even lawyers can’t understand the briefs written by other lawyers. I swear, the American Bar Association must be holding secret seminars somewhere called “WTF: How to Bury Your Point in a 40-Page Brief.”
(By the way, since I’m euphemistically an “independent writer and editor,” I’m open to job offers from anyone who needs help deciphering legalese, gubmint-speak and corporate crapola. I’ll also help your kids do their homework for the right price)
For the most part my plan is to use this space to talk about double talk and how it plugs up our collective ability to communicate. We all do it, but the pros — advertising copywriters, marketing executives, media commentators and the like — have raised it to an art form. The subliminal effect on Americans is profound, yet everyone thinks they’re immune to being influenced by certain words and images.
You’re not. Neither am I. And neither are the pros. They repeat their own half-truths and bad metaphors so often that they eventually come to believe them. They’re sort of like Dr. Frankenstein — when their creations take on lives of their own, it’s easy to forget that they were created out of something dead and rotten.
Don’t get scared. I’m not planning a daily diet of rants and screeds. Mostly I’m just a bored old journalist looking for an outlet, so my primary goal is to have some fun. My associations with various news organizations over the last 30 years have compelled me to hold my tongue. Now that I’m free (i.e., jobless) I can make my own spew stew.