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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Twelve Annoying Statements

Do you have certain words or phrases that really annoy you? I do.

My list includes such things as
  • Terms and conditions apply or 'I agree to the terms and conditions.'
  • The perfect gift 
  • Real people, not actors. (Are actors not real people?)
  • That's what I'm talking about.
  • Some assembly required.
  • What's your reaction? (As in, What's your reaction to finding out your family was just killed in a car accident?)
  • Only $699 (or some other number) a month
  • Lowest prices of the season
  • After the break (meaning, after 10 annoying commercials)
  • One size fits all
  • Like (I like was talking to a friend when like somebody like interrupted us).
  • Batteries not included
I got some other suggestions of annoying phrases from Facebook friends as well, but these are my top dozen ... until another one comes along. I realize that some, such as 'batteries not included' and 'some assembly required', are to avoid giving the impression that the item shown in the photograph or ad arrives completely assembled and with batteries. But 'real people. not actors' gets the award for stupid. I mean, why not simply state that those giving their on-camera endorsements are 'actual customers'?

My most hated phrase is "the perfect gift," something that is everywhere the months before Christmas, whether it is a television commercial or a print ad.  The $60,000 car is 'the perfect gift.' A pair of flannel pajamas is 'the perfect gift.' Some cheap junk made in China is 'the perfect gift.' You get the picture. What if 'the perfect gift' isn't, in fact, a thing, but an action or an experience?

I worked for NASA public affairs for 20 years, and I always dreaded the calls from reporters wanting to interview me or a senior manager for our reactions to a terrible accident, such as losing seven astronauts on the space shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated on reentry. What did they think my reaction was going to be? I was grief-stricken, horrified, incredibly saddened, shocked. I'm sure everybody who worked for NASA in any capacity had the same reaction, as did members of the public. I had worked that mission, and I had briefed the crew a few months before launch. What did reporters expect my reaction to be ... laughter? a high-five?  What a tasteless question. Yet I still see reporters on television news sticking a microphone in the face of a person who has just experienced horrendous personal tragedy for the 'reaction.'

Many years ago, when I worked at a large northern California humane society, I worked with a reporter with a small, independent television station. She was extremely thoughtful and caring in her reporting, which is probably why she left the station, moved to Nevada and became a Realtor. She reported the news without engaging in dramatics or tasteless questions.

My post about annoying phrases won't change anything, but it's nice to know that others are annoyed by inane statements, mostly in advertising, as well. Words have impacts both positive and negative, and it's good to be reminded of this from time to time.