Saturday, February 20, 2016

Get Real

"Language most shows a man; speak so that I may see thee."  

 Ben Johnson (Poet b. 1572)

This post is about a couple of things. First (and not foremost), it is about boring repetition. Second it is about choosing our words carefully. And finally, it is about honesty.

The phrase first and foremost must fade away. Now. Writing both is a redundancy. If something is first - as in the first reason you do something, or the first of anything, you don't need foremost. Foremost means: leading, principal, FIRST, premier, top, best, and more. First means: FOREMOST, principal, top, and more. These words mean the same thing. That means that to always be using them together is redundant. Who started this? Someone has to stop it first. Let it be me and you; should you choose to take the challenge.  I challenge you to scour this phrase from your writing. Firstly, your writing will be more concise, but the foremost reason for cutting this phrase from your writing is that it is redundant. Lose redundancy in your writing, and your writing will be more enjoyable to read, and more understandable.

Second, it is important to choose our words carefully. Words have two meanings: a definition and a connotation. What do I mean? I mean that there is a dictionary definition for all words, but there is also an implied meaning for words. Here is an important example: the word guys used to address mixed groups of people. We hear it all the time: news broadcasters say it, people on YouTube say it, and even the person waiting on you at your local pub: "What can I get you guys?" and you're sitting with a table full of women. This is not a feminist thing. This is not a politically correct thing. This is about the correct use the words that describe a situation. To address groups of people with the word guys implies (connotation) that there are no women in the audience. To address a group of women at a pub as "guys' does not recognize that group properly. Do I sound stuffy? I'm not. For example, how about "What can I get all of you to drink?" or even "Good evening, Ladies. What are you drinking?" Or even "Hello, I'm your server, Melanie, what can I bring you from the bar?" Honestly, guys is not necessary. At. All. Be one of the people who is working to turn this tired phrase around - just stop using it. If you are addressing a group of guys use it if you must, but not a group of women or a mixed group. Be precise in your language.

Finally, for the love of all that's holy, stop, stop writing these boring headlines: You'll Never Believe How this Women Cleans Her Bathroom. Or. This One Weird Trick Will Have You Flipping For Joy. Or. You'll Never Believe How This One Weird Trick Helped Save This Woman's Marriage. You've seen these headlines everywhere; have you not? They are boring. Annoying. Unnecessary. They don't tempt me to read - they annoy me. I skip articles with this wording. Why? Because when I have been lead into these articles I feel tricked by the promise of something outside the realm of what I'm used to expecting (one weird trick, you'll never believe), when in fact, their so-called "weird trick" or whatever way the writer words that - is not weird nor most time is it a trick, and it is never unbelievable. It is something totally normal that I am probably already doing or have read before. No one. Absolutely no one, likes to be mislead, and that is what these headlines do. The only trick in these articles is one that purposefully misleads readers into reading the article. If you are writing a blog, or are asked to submit something for a publication, write a headline that lures your readers with the truth. Not some wacky "weird trick" that doesn't exist in the first place. Your readers will appreciate your honest writing. You will instantly be more trustworthy.

Many things are competing for our attention today. Thousands of advertisements, text messages and e-mails from friends, and phone calls anywhere anytime. It is important in such a "loud" world to make sure our words convey their real meaning. Be part of the movement. Get real. Say what you mean. Have a peaceful, happy day.

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