Article first published as Four Expressions The Web Has Officially Ruined on Technorati.
Confession time. I’m an English nerd. Maybe even a snob. I love language and I have fun with it. When I’m writing, sometimes I get so obsessed with finding the perfect word or sentence to describe my thought that the mere idea of creating a simple draft of something can take forever. I know. That’s counter-intuitive to the notion of the word “draft.” I’m a perfectionist. Sue me.
When I write, I frequently consult a thesaurus in an attempt to sound smarter while simultaneously thinking, “How can I obliterate the English language today?” Then, I find the prefect four syllable word and rejoice.
When I’m not writing, I take the time to study the language carefully so that I can appreciate it and hopefully become a better writer. My secret? I read a lot. I also listen to George Carlin’s “7 Words You Can Never Say On Television,” or “The Evolution of the F-Bomb” for inspiration. You know, educational stuff.
So it should come as no surprise that one of my biggest pet peeves involves words and expressions that are overused and misunderstood. English snobs like myself have long discussed the expressions and clichés that annoy us to no end, and thanks to social media and all things Web 2.0, that list is growing. Certain words have crept into our vocabulary and are being used ad nauseam. Consequently, I have been trying to hire a hit man to have these words shot and killed. Make it look like an accident if you have to; I’ll throw in an extra $1,000 if they suffer a little, but the following words and phrases need to die.
Here are my top four in ascending order.
Epic: I don’t know how this happened, but somehow a word that used to carry a lot of shock and awe suddenly became the go-to word for all things thought to be amazing and life changing. Suddenly, it seems like this is the only word people can find in their mind when they’re searching for a description of something presumably indescribable by any other word. “Dude. I saw The Social Network this weekend. It was epic.” You should see this sunburn I got. Epic. I bought this new phone. Epic. (Side note: Seriously, Sprint?) No. It wasn’t. None of that was epic. You want to know what was epic? Dinosaurs.
Fail/Major Fail: A close friend of “epic” and often found piggybacking off of it, as in “Epic fail.” Fail used to mean, “I failed my driver’s test,“ or “I failed my final exam.” These events had real consequences and you made every effort specifically to avoid failure at all costs. Now? It’s being thrown around so melodramatically as a slang term meant to express disbelief at some minor travesty. “Facebook went down again today? FAIL.” “I locked myself out of the house again! Major fail.” The only true failure here is that this word continues to be overused and has slowly begun losing its influence.
F@#$ My Life: There’s something about reading other people’s published misfortunes that can help put one’s own life in perspective. When the site launched in 2008 it was funny. Maybe even therapeutic. After two years? Not so much. What makes it worse are the people who append the phrase to every single perceived mishap in their daily lives. “I can’t believe I have to go into work on my day off! FML.” “I can’t believe my girlfriend broke up with me. FML” Maybe she broke up with you because you were constantly complaining about the world’s most mundane events and she wanted to give you a reality check. How about, TYG? Thank Your Girlfriend.
LOL & “K”: First it was AIM, then text messages. You’re texting with a friend who says something they think is funny. You text back, “LOL “ almost without even thinking about it. This creates two problems: 1. Odds are you weren’t really laughing at the joke anyway, so you’re lying. 2. Your friend still thinks their lame jokes are funny because you responded with positive reinforcement. Shame on you. You’re helping nobody here. Who’s laughing now?
Then there are those who affirm everything with the famous one-letter reply. What happened? Two letters became too much? Clearly that’s not it since there is that segment of the population that replies, “KK.” What the eff does that even mean? On top of that, I don’t need you running up my cell phone text message bill with single letter texts. K? Thx.
Before we officially bid these expressions a final farewell, let’s just get it out of our system right now with one last mega sentence. Leave your best shot in the comments below, along with other words and phrases I may have missed.