Now that it's 2008, it's time to let go of some words and phrases that are so 2007 (or even 2006). Sure, some slangy expressions, like "cool," enter our lexicon and stay there (undoubtedly over the objections of beat-era squares). And others, like "radical," come and go, and are revived periodically, albeit primarily in ironic fashion. But the four phrases below are minor nuisances on the verge of becoming annoyingly commonplace. So in the year to come, let's all try to be a little more imaginative in how we express ourselves on message boards, e-mail and the like. And let's begin by getting shut of…
Meh. It may be too late to stop "meh," which is already on T-shirts and has been lovingly skewered in an episode of The Simpsons. On the surface, "meh" seems like a fine word, full of cute, rounded letters that express a simple idea: "I'm neither enthusiastic about nor furiously against the movie/band/book/idea you just mentioned." And if someone asks you a direct question about your feelings, and you respond with "meh," I suppose that's acceptable (even though it strikes me as a little summarily dismissive, sort of like how "whatever" used to be). But as an interjection into a discussion, "meh" encapsulates a lot of what's wrong with on-line discourse. What it really expresses is this: "I have no strong opinion about what the rest of you are discussing, and none of you know who I am anyway, but I've got 10 seconds to spare and I like to type."
Well-played. I'm not sure how long this one has been around, though I know Jon Stewart uses it a lot on The Daily Show, always with a faux-aristocratic accent, as though he'd just been bested in a contest of wits by a southern dandy. There's nothing especially wrong with "well-played"–and it can be a pleasant way to defuse a on-line dispute before it escalates–but in cold print, it lacks the flavor that it's meant to have. And it's become too much of a default response, written without any real consideration. Just like….
I loves me some. This is one that I don't even understand. Where did it come from? Why do people use it instead of "I like" or "I love?" What tone are they trying to convey? Why does typing the phrase "I loves me some" into a search engine bring up 117,000 hits? Are we still going to be saying this 10 years from now?
Wow, just…wow. This was a really effective rhetorical device the first few hundred times it was used, conveying a kind of dumbfoundedness that verges on the comic. But now, "wow, just…wow" has become like a meaner version of "meh," going beyond "I have no comment on that" to "What you just said is so colossally asinine that all I can do is just shake my head publicly in hopes of shaming you." Mainly, the problem with "wow, just…wow" is that it sounds cleverer than it is, because if something really is so stupid that you can't engage with it, then why say anything at all? (Answer: Because you think it's important that other people pay heed to your superiority.)
And while we're on the subject of irritating on-line posturing, can people please stop typing "flame away" after they express an opinion? It just comes off so pathetic and presumptuous. And if you express an ignorant opinion and do get flamed? Please don't say "guess I touched a nerve," as though the vitriol you stirred up is somehow proof that you were onto something.
Lastly, while I encourage you all to list some of the on-line phrases you're sick of in the field below, please don't preface them by writing, "I can't believe no one has mentioned…" Just mention it, man. That'll do.