Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's happening again.

I don't know why this bothers me so much.

I just finished reading an article online about the accident that the Governor of New Jersey had last week. This accident was very serious and has left him in intensive care with a whole lot of broken bones. And it seems like there are a lot of State Troopers involved, including the one that was driving the car the Governor was in when it was hit. I was reading the article and noting the facts when something stuck out at me.

One of the State Troopers used the phrase "fog of war" to describe the confusion of facts in the time immediately after the accident.

The use of that specific phrase in that context sends me up a wall. I find it infuriating. It smacks of something I have ranted on about on this page before - the inappropriate use of language and metaphor by people who think it makes them sound smart, creative and/or more interesting. It doesn't. It makes you sound like an uneducated idiot. There is no war, there is a car accident. Both things are serious. One involves a large group of people, one involves a small group of people. One involves one group of people attacking another on purpose. The other involves one vehicle hitting another, but accidently. That's why it's called a car accident.

Everyone has Mrs. Malaprop come visit now and again, but the incorrect use of metaphor makes me grind my teeth. The business community does this constantly; I think to make their weird little lives seem more interesting by inserting active verbs with abandon until meaning is lost between the slides in the inevtiable powerpoint presentation that sort of person seems to fetishize. Someone here at my office once smartly pointed out that people rely on powerpoint when they really do not have anything real to say, and you should be suspicious whenever a "deck" is handed out or projected.

Phrases to now be on the lookout for:

"Fog of War." Please see above.

"Low Hanging Fruit." There are no fruits. Not even a kumquat. Only sad people in bad clothes and ugly shoes.

The endelessly annoying and tiresome overused description of movement when you are all sitting in a depresing office/conference room: "Moving Forward..." There is no movement forward, we are sitting quite still in a depressing conference room. If you stop talking this corporate nonsense to one another for one moment, just one blessed moment of silence, you can hear the sound of the air condtioning in the ventilation system - the sound of you quietly murdering your own soul in a room full of people you don't know in any meaningful way in exchange for things you aren't sure you want anymore.

"Bandwidth." One of my all time favorites, and an inevitable result of the attempts to make the internet seem somehow connected, even linguistically, to everything in our lives. I mean, I don't want to ever be in my friend's house and have her say "I was going to make that blueberry crumble everyone loves for dessert, but I just didn't have the bandwidth." And in a business context, if you don't have the "bandwidth" to get ready for a meeting, or a wretched conference call with other horrible people in slacks, it doesn't mean you are too busy to get to it, it just means you are too dumb to run the copy machine or dial the death star of a telephone on your desk properly.

"At the end of the day..." The day never ends at the office. That's why it sucks.

And finally, the great "get your arms around..." This phrase indicates precious human contact between people, not whether or not the person you are talking to knows how to enter phone numbers into Outlook.

Please keep in mind these are the same people who would get mad at you in high school for being smarter than they are, but at the same time you still tried to be nice to them because you are not a douchebag. At the end of the day, or at any other time. They don't care, because they believe that low SAT Verbal scores in the dim past can be made up for by having "value adding" vocabulary now.


1 Comments:

Anonymous Meagan said...

That photo is my life, except I don't wear a suit. Well, rarely.

7:47 AM  

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