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Phrases That COVID Killed
May 15, 2020. My tenth blog post in the Coronatimes
This is my tenth blog in the Coronatimes. And according to my CoronaLogs, it’s been 65 days. That’s a fucking long time and I will say it’s making me bitchy, which if you ask any of my ride companions on the Simpsonville Loop, that is totally possible. The rant today is over the use and overuse of some phrases that I hope will die a quick and painful death once we are released from this hell.
Let’s get the big one of out of the way. Question: What is your emotional response when I say that we are living in these unprecedented times? Does it grate you as much as it does me? It feels like every media outlet, whether broadcast or publishing, drills these words. Last night during one commercial break, we heard it three times. It is true that what we are going through is out of the ordinary, but by now we’re all in on that fact, so I implore the marketing powers that be to knock it off already. I promise you can’t keep us in fear forever and now you’re just annoying us.
Of course that means that phrases like trying times or uncertain times are off the table as well. They are just as bad. What if we started working on a positive uptick in our verbiage to kickstart a feeling of control? One could say extraordinary times or even remarkable times, which are synonyms for unprecedented times, but sound undoubtedly more hopeful. Call me crazy, but what if we didn’t refer to these “times” at all. I vote for that.
How do you like living in the new normal? Okay, we get it. Things will forever be different than they were March 1st, 2020. Just like everything was forever different starting September 11, 2001. I argue that even without terrorist attacks and pandemics, every day is a new normal. Change is constant, minute to minute even, let alone day to day. Sometimes you see the changes, sometimes you don’t. But regardless you adapt every single day to your new normal.
What about the phrase essential worker? If it offends you, I understand. I believe that every person that works a job in order to provide for their family is an essential worker. I know I am; and every job is essential in that sense. Now the fact that some places of employment were allowed by government guidelines to stay open, I deem these businesses be called indispensable. Even though some were questionable, I’m happy those people got to keep their “essential” jobs. And NOTE: Yes, coffee shops and liquor stores fall into the indispensable zone. Thank God.
The term social distancing can shove it. I’m sick of it. Can’t we just call it personal space? As in “please give me 6 feet of personal space”. I predict in the future that if you use the term “social distancing”, people will light torches and run you out of town on a rail.
And if I hear flattening the curve one more time, I may flatten whoever says it. For the foreseeable future the only curve I plan to flatten is my gut after all of the carbs, sugar and alcohol I’ve consumed the last ten weeks. Flatten this curve, Governor Beshear!
Here’s the sticky one that people may take issue with me over. I cannot even begin to describe my annoyance at the overuse of the word hero / heroes. We’ve got a whole lot of heroes going on right now. I feel like we all got together on Oprah’s show and she started throwing out hero-status like “You’re a hero and you’re a hero and you’re a hero! Everybody’s a hero!” We indeed have heroes in our midst, but the word has been watered down so much that the real ones are drowning.
I bet some and maybe most deemed heroes would prefer not to be called one. Would you? Once you have been labeled with such a title, the expectation of you and everything you do is raised to a crazy extreme. How do you continue to live up to that level? And how do you come down from that level? Nothing like telling people you used to be a hero. That would suck.
Last Sunday on 60 Minutes, head of Amazon Operations agreed with Leslie Stahl and reiterated flippantly that he thought the Amazon distribution center workers were heroes. He didn’t believe it, you could tell. He had his corporate face on. It’s been easy for companies to call their employees heroes and put up “Heroes Work Here” signs. But signs fade and words are fleeting. What really counts is how these people are treated in the short and long term.
Heroic deeds are being done across this country. No doubt. But how ’bout a visit to dictionary’s cousin, thesaurus? I’m ready to throw out that old, tired hero label and toast all of our brave, dedicated, courageous, dependable, and honorable healthcare workers, teachers, and all indispensable employees out there. And a double toast to the rest of us ’cause we heroes too. Oprah said so.
Every groovy stage of life has words and phrases that die. Thankfully no one ever says “Gag me with a spoon!” or “whasssup!?” anymore. I can’t wait for all these mentioned phrases to join the semantics graveyard – fer sure, like totally.
Till next Friday –