In today's world, time is of the essence. We waste time and energy when we're supposed to be more efficient because of the energy problem. We want to go "green" as much as possible and want everything as fast as possible because we're all multitasking now. Working two jobs now to keep the bank from foreclosing is getting to be the standard.
If we're on the net and it takes a website two seconds to load, we get impatient-too slow. It would only take three minutes to make a cup of instant coffee but we insist on standing in line at Starbucks for fifteen minutes and pay five bucks for a "cup o' joe." "Fast food" is not so fast. Having to wait for your order for ten minutes is exasperating, especially if your three-year old has to potty nine minutes into the wait. Never mind that you're fifth car back in the drive-thru. Nothing like a cold greasy burger-thanks, junior. A three course microwave dinner cannot take more than ten minutes to heat or we'll be standing in front of it tapping our toes nervously and hollering, "Hurry UP!" Ever been to an "Express" oil change & lube service station? There's nothing "express" about it, especially on a Saturday morning. The station distracts you by providing cheap substandard coffee and the day's newspaper. The manager has told you twice now that "you're next!" after you've overheard him tell the guy in line behind you that HE was next.
We're obsessed with the time and energy element, yet we constantly waste these elements on tired and boring old language cliches that could be said in a much more energy efficient manner. There's nothing "green" about these words and terms-they take too much time and use too much energy. The environmental deterioration caused by language flatulence could be slowed by just saying less and using fewer words. A few of these tired and boring terms in our lexicon follow:
...at the end of the day.." This term used to be almost unique, but let the media get a hold of it and it gets run into the ground. Anyone channel surfing the news or talk show outlets can see this. It seems every politician and anyone who gets interviewed has to wind things up with this, just before they get cutoff for a commercial break. This term takes six syllables to utter. A more "green" and energy efficient term would be "in summary," "in the end," "therefore" or even "thus" which saves a lot of unneeded syllables. This term should be retired permanently.
"Think outside the box." Whose box? What kind of box are they talking about, anyway? Does it carry a connotation of "square" as in "unhip" as the 1950s beatniks used to say? So then, did thinking get old "inside" the box? This term carries the promise of new and radical thinking, but using it has gotten about as new, unique and radical as a Whopper with cheese.
"Up close and personal." This term is usually used by television tabloid personalities to promote their exclusive interview with a celebrity or movie star. The only way they're going to get "up close and personal" with anyone is to sleep with them. The most you'll find out about these celebrities is what kind of car they drive, how big of a house they live in and what clothes designer they're pushing this month. That's about as "personal" as taking a number at the local deli during the lunch rush. This six syllable word could be streamlined to "intimate" or just "personal," making a much more effective energy efficient "green" term.
This brings us to the most worn-out-its-welcome overused word in the entire dictionary and should stop being used by anyone and forever:
"Absolutely!" What ever happened to a simple "yes," "yeah," or even "certainly?" "Certainly" has one syllable less than "absolutely." This affirmative response is a waste of precious time. We might miss that second job time clock by one minute and lose fifteen minutes of pay. Nothing is ever absolute anyway except the vodka.
With everyone now in the conservation mode, any more syllables than we need would be squandering time. Time is money, and we all could use a little more of that these days. Using the above mentioned energy-sucking clichés in our day-to-day language is the equivalent of driving the Hummer a block to the 7-11. If we all get more mileage out of what we say, or what we don't say, we'll have enough physical energy left to take that third job.
August 23, 2009