I have a request for the world. Can we please ditch the following words and phrases? They have no value, and need to go away.
Trigger warning – This one has apparently been around for a while now, but according to Slate, it gained widespread use this year. It’s certainly something that I only noticed this year. It’s eye-rollingly useless. If you’re so hyper-sensitive that even reading something vaguely related to something that once happened to you is enough to trigger some sort of nasty outcome, then possibly the Internet is not a place for you.
Life hacking – Life hacking is a cute little phrase that means the same thing as “shortcut” or “tips”. It’s basically all those little things you can do to make your life easier, only instead of saying things like “shortcuts” or “tips to make your life easier”, people say “life hacks”, as in “10 Life Hacks to Make You More Productive”. It’s a twee little internet phrase that, as with “trigger warning”, serves no real purpose.
Gluten-free – Ok, this one’s a bit iffy, but bear with me. There are people out there with celiac disease. These are people who, for whatever reason, have biological problems with processing gluten. It affects, according to Wikipedia, “between 1 in 1,750 and 1 in 105 people in the United States”. So at best less than 1% of the population, and possibly under .1% of the population.
But if you browsed certain websites, or paid attention to marketing, you’d think we were living in the Gluten End Times. For reasons that are seldom made clear, gluten and all things associated with it are viewed as the most evil thing possible, causing everything from autism to cancer. Because of this internet-based panic, companies have began proudly displaying “Gluten-Free!” on any number of products, many of which never had gluten to begin with.
For the incredibly small number of people who have a genuine, doctor diagnosed, problem with gluten, these products are nice, and they should be aware of them. But for the rest of this, it’s basically just the latest trendy First World, middle class, health/food panic, and it needs to go away.
Pansexual – I’ve mentioned before my problems with this word, and yet, for some reason, the world hasn’t fallen all over itself to stop using it. Suffice to say there are two (2) genders. Anything outside that is one of those little mental and/or physical variations nature throws at us from time-to-time, but they are not new or different genders. So “bisexual” is sufficient, and pansexual is pretentious.
Mental health – Now let’s make one thing clear. I’m not some barking-mad Scientologist who thinks the whole psychiatric industry is one big scam. It most certainly is not. However the more we learn about “mental health” issues, the more we learn they are actually chemical or biological “medical” issues. Consider things like depression, or schizophrenia, both of which can be treated and controlled with drugs. If these were mental, and not physical, issues, that would not be the case.
As a result, the term “mental health” is basically useless. We need to think of these problems as simply medical problems, and nothing more. That includes not just the way we as a society think of them, but the way they are treated by the insurance and medical industry.
Superfood – The concept of a “superfood” is that it’s a food that’s loaded with huge amounts of vitamins, minerals, sugars, and whatever else you might need in your diet. As a concept, it isn’t horrible, though it’s a bit twee. In execution, it’s awful. Suddenly every newly-discovered fruit (newly discovered to the white, American, middle class, anyhow), gets the label “superfood”, and begins to turn up in every item imaginable. It has become a totally meaningless term and should never be used by anyone outside of marketing, and not even by them.
Heirloom, artisinal and craft – Much like superfood, these terms might have started out useful, but have since become meaningless. The word “heirloom”, which seems to always have the word “tomatoes” following it, used to mean seeds or plant strains that were somehow untouched by modern hands and were, therefore, superior. Never mind the fact that most of us wouldn’t even recognize the inedible wild potatoes of South America, or various cereal crops in their state before we domesticated them.
“Artisinal” and “craft” both used to refer to batches of food or drink (almost always cheese for “artisinal” and beer for “craft”), that were made with care in small batches and therefore were, again, somehow superior to the larger batches made by others. But these words really lack meaning or substance. Who cares how many batches of cheese or beer are made by a particular company, as long as the batches they are making are good? Very much like “heirloom” these have become nothing more than marking terms.
In fact, I’ll take back what I said before. These terms were never useful, and they were always only marketing terms, and they need to go away.
So that’s those words and phrases. Anyone have any others they want to nominate for the next time I write an article like this?