Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Metrosexuals officially banished

This post is dedicated to Scott, who's been checking this page all day fruitlessly looking for updates, and who's instead been forced to endure my particular style of entertainment straight from the source, since I'm at his house.

Since 1976, Lake Superior State University's Banished Words List has been singling out words and phrases for being misused, overused, or just plain useless. I take particular interest in this list, since I'm the guy who got "killer app" banished back in 2002. (Surprisingly, this landed me in a Canadian Press story that ran on page 3 of the Ottawa Sun and in other papers nationwide. Now that I mention it, here's a site I just found that points out that I hate "diva" and fashionista" too. I didn't even know that was on the net).

Anyway, the list for 2004 is out, and "metrosexual" has been singled out as as the linguistic offender most notable for having been (in a phrase that surprisingly has yet to be banished) voted off the island. Also gone: "bling-bling", "punk'd", and "sweat like a pig".

Another notable target feeling the wrath of voters: "LOL". I'm happy to see this one banished, since it's certainly overused. Any time I play online poker, I notice one or two people who abuse the chat function by including "LOL" after every single sentence they type, as though they're constantly howling with laughter at their own wit. Even if they were being this hilarious, surely it's better form to simply raise an eyebrow like Oscar Wilde (or Mr. Spock) might have. There's even a well-known emoticon for this ( ;) ) and much as I abhor emoticons and think they ought to be banished entirely, people ought to at least get their irritating Internet abbreviations straight.

"Are you really laughing out loud?" I demand of these people. "Are the braying jackass sounds of merriment actually emanating from your mouth and throat right now?"

"lighten up LOL," they type back.

Whatever. Anyway, I'm serving notice right now that I'm going to get "offline" banished in next year's list. Not in computer contexts, mind you. That's fine. I'm talking about its use as a corporate cliche, like when you're in some big meeting, and someone asks something, and the boss responds, "Good question. I'll talk to you about that offline."

You're not online! What are you, a modem? Why not try "in private"? Or how about "later"? I'd even prefer "when the rest of these jerks aren't around." The use of "offline" in this sense reminds me of this idiot boss I used to have who referred to arming the security system as "downloading" the security system. It's wrong, it's idiotic, and pending approval by the bigwig linguists at LSSU, it's absolutely prohibited from now on.

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