Some people have a bone to pick with the diffusion of social networking terms into daily language. It’s the old “Facebook is not a verb” line. That’s a reasonable reaction, one which I’ve been far from immune to in my time as an angry 22-year old elderly man yelling at the kids on my lawn. But these small shifts in language are ultimately harmless because they’re rooted in our shared reality. Facebook is integrated enough in our daily lives that it can evolve into a verb, adverb, acronym, or onomatopoeia without straining credibility.
It isn’t a buzzword. Buzzwords are a rapidly metastasizing linguistic cancer that we’ve ignored for a minute too long.
At some point in the universal search for truth, beauty, and Scandinavian supermodels, it became acceptable for otherwise-
respectable tolerable publications to poison the well of language with empty buzzwords. It’s often fueled by a low-key form of fear mongering that exploits of our fear of falling behind rather than our fear of planes crashing into buildings. Buzzwords tend to vary in content including common cliches, blatant falsehoods, and absolutely nothing. The universal links between buzzwords are ambiguity and inexplicable hype among clueless mongoloids.
If you feel like knocking your IQ down a few points, read the articles that scroll down the front page of LinkedIn. Have you thought about your personal brand this morning? If not, you should evidently be saving your space in the bread line between the homeless woman and smack addict convinced that mechanical spiders are crawling inside his eyelids. You’ve fallen behind everyone else, and should dedicate the flaming ruins of your once-promising career to catching up.
This is a rare case where marketing is as much of a victim as a perpetrator. If you think that marketing’s worst buzzwords are directed externally, you’re tragically mistaken. The modern branding world is awash in enough half-baked buzzwords to fill a worthless dictionary. Many advertising courses will drive you through six thinly-realized and contradictory concepts per lecture before arriving at any substance about the business of making ads. No industry is guiltier of drinking its own Kool Aid. This is a big part of the vast majority of advertising sucking sewage through a straw and blending it into a smoothie for the public. The men and women behind the copy are so enmeshed in the vision of a green-social-engaged-permission brand that they forgot to convince you.
Buzzwords are failed memes at heart. While a successful meme glides effortlessly from person to person, a buzzword requires constant forced repetition from a stunted press to take root. It fails to become universal because its forced (in a better age, I’d have used the non-corrupted word natural). It rings false. The only place it fits is in the crosshairs of the latest Dilbert strip.
The current environment sets the stage for a certain kind of zombie. Their lips move, and sound comes out of their mouths. But after an hour-long presentation, they’ve avoided saying anything at all. There’s never been a better time to be born without a personality.