Archive for January, 2016

January 31, 2016

#106) Autopsy of an unfollow #1 and #2: SciBabe and The Sound

If there’s one thing that social media managers dread, it’s the loss of followers in the demographic that truly drives all popular trends: married white guys in their 40s, especially those whose blogs have dozens of views per decade. Because I fit that demo, I’m introducing a new series of posts, outlining when and why I decide to unfollow various outlets on social media.

The first two casualties are 100.3-FM The Sound, Los Angeles’s leading classic rock station and Yvette d’Entremont, a science author who is known as SciBabe. I have no ill will toward either of these entities; both provide a service of value. I’m just tired of them.

What’s interesting, depending on your definition of the word, is that I decided to unfollow them for the exact opposite reasons. I was originally drawn to d’Entremont’s Facebook page by the intelligent way in which she stirred the pot, skewering fad diets and kooky health/lifestyle ideas (read: anti-vaxxers) put forth by celebrities. (The cartoon of a blonde in a lab coat and black thigh-high boots had nothing to do with piquing my interest). It’s always fun watching people freak out online when their beliefs are challenged and d’Entremont’s calling out of “Food Babe” Vani Hari and kale-based diets often made people do just that. Soon though, the novelty wore off for me. The occasional shared post of shot glasses made of chocolate-dipped bacon or in-depth analyses of the physics of the second Death Star’s destruction notwithstanding, ultimately I’ve found d’Entremont to be a one-trick pony. OK, we get it: the “natural/whole foods” industry has ulterior motives and people shouldn’t get all their information from mommy bloggers. Find some new material.

On the other hand, The Sound has a Facebook page that may be described as “Jack of all trades, master of none” or perhaps more accurately, “Squirrel!” Granted the page is a trove of useful* trivia on music history (did you know that January 15th was the anniversary of the Stones’ appearance on Ed Sullivan when they were forced to edit their newest hit and sing, ‘Let’s spend some time together’? More importantly…January 20th was the anniversary of when Ozzy bit the head off the bat!). Unfortunately there’s also a lot of preachy quotes–“He who knows best knows how little he knows -Thomas Jefferson”– and pandering to trendiness. I, for one, don’t care that Coldplay has tapped L.A. Phil conductor Gustavo Dudamel to lead the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles to accompany them at their Super Bowl appearance. (Don’t get me started on anything Coldplay, much less the fact that they are going to be playing the Super Bowl.) The final straw was when the page posted a video of a puppy trying to walk down a stair case (“Adorbs!”)

Ranting about the shortcomings of social media is certainly a first world problem, but considering how many businesses and personalities rely on these channels, it’s only natural for them to want to know how effective they are. Too much ADD (even for me, which is saying a lot) or too much predictability and I check out. I wish both SciBabe and the folks at The Sound nothing but success and happiness, but their pages have both run their course for me. Until things change, I can be found curating the bacon for my shot glasses.

*D-Theory’s definition of useful: obscure and only truly useful if you want to win a late night bar room bet

January 4, 2016

#105) Language court 2016: the D-Theory verdicts on LSSU’s newly banished words

So, it looks like this conversation about manspreading is going to break the internet unless we walk it back to before the stakeholders held their presser.

It’s that time of year when language geeks such as myself peruse the various lists of words and phrases that are nominated for banishment. Though many such lists exist, the one published by Lake Superior State University tends to carry the most weight. Like many people, I have made resolutions to be more productive and make greater contributions to society in 2016 and if running down my own personal verdicts on these words doesn’t contribute to society, then slap my ass and sign me up for the Peace Corps. D-Theory Language Court is now in session, the honorable judge D-Lock presiding.

SO

Charges: Peter Gabriel’s fifth solo record is charged with containing the track “In Your Eyes”, thus making people forget about “Games Without Frontiers” and “Family Snap…” Oh, wait, what’s that? Wrong “So?” My bad. “So” is charged with “…Being overused as the first word in the answer to ANY question.”

Verdict: Guilty.

CONVERSATION

Charges: Being a bland, non-offensive, non-specific alternative to words such as “debate”, “discourse” and “argument.”

Verdict: Guilty. To the above mentioned charges, the court adds, “Making a company look desperate when they ask customers/viewers/readers to ‘join the conversation.'”

PROBLEMATIC

Charges: Being a “corporate-academic weasel word.”

Verdict: Not guilty. It does tend to get overused, but what’s the word that we should use instead? Cunty?

STAKEHOLDER

Charges: Being over-used in business to describe customers and others.

Verdict: Not guilty. Yes, it may be a word that folks simply use to sound smart and important, but the court has not found it to be as ubiquitous as some claim.

PRICE POINT

Charges: Using two words when one will do.

Verdict: Guilty. It has a connotation among those who use it that the product is somehow superior.

SECRET SAUCE

Charges: Being a metaphor for success based on the fast food industry.

Verdict: Guilty. If you brag about something, it’s no longer a secret.

BREAK THE INTERNET

Charges: Being hyperbole about the latest controversy that is already becoming trite.

Verdict: Guilty. The court adds the charge of begetting the equally annoying tendency to force the verb “Win” into situations where it doesn’t belong (“Win the internet”; “Win Yom Kippur.”)

WALK IT BACK

Charges: Being an unnecessary synonym for “Back pedal.”

Verdict: Not guilty. The prosecution has the burden of proof and failed to provide any meaningful evidence.

PRESSER

Charges: Being an unnecessarily trendy term for “Press release” or “Press conference.”

Verdict: Not guilty. The court sees this word as a minor offender which will soon slip from popular use.

MANSPREADING

Charges: Being a term for taking up too much room on a subway or bus.

Verdict: Not guilty. As the LSSU prosecution team itself notes, the term is mainly “familiar to those in bigger cities, where seats on the bus or subway are sometimes difficult to find.” Thus, the term is unlikely to infect those in rural areas or places like Los Angeles where one tends not to use public transportation.

VAPE

Charges: Describing the act of “smoking” E-cigarettes.

Verdict: Not guilty. As long as E-cigarettes exist, some word will be necessary to describe the act of using them. We can let “Vape” serve that purpose until something better comes along.

GIVING ME LIFE

Charges: Being an over-used phrase for “making me laugh.”

Verdict: Guilty. Perhaps it’s not as ubiquitous as “Break the internet”, but it still is overwrought.

PHYSICALITY

Charges: Being over-used by sports broadcasters and writers.

Verdict: Not guilty. When you get tired of broadcasters who talk simply to hear the sound of their own voice, remember that your remote control has a “mute” button.

Those who are curious can check out this blog’s verdicts on the 2015 LSSU list.

What say you?