2019’s top 10 worst words and phrases (so far)

By Matt Rooney

It’s back by popular demand, Save Jerseyans! Long-time readers may recall that I’ve composed lists before (here and here) highlighting some of the most overused and boorish words/terms/phrases currently circulating in the common vernacular.

Well, our culture isn’t getting any better in this regard, so I felt it was time for a new supplemental list based upon what we’re hearing and seeing out there (so far) in 2019:

(1) “Disrupt”

2018-2019 will gone down in history as the era of the faux rebel. You upbraided a convenience store cashier for using your “wrong pronouns”? Invented an app capable of locating clean toilets within a 25 mile radius? Decided to wear a red shirt to work on blue shirt day? You’re #DISRUPTING the shit out of life! Wow. Congratulations. The toilet app actually isn’t a terrible idea (I bet someone has tried it), but that’s not the point: “disrupt” is now over-used to the point of being almost meaningless kind of like “diva” several years ago. A real disruption? Alternating current. Jet engines. Facebook. Not your latest social justice skirmish outcome or mundane office space innovation.

(2) “Living your best life”

It’s hard to say exactly what this one means because it’s so broad. Generally, it’s what Instagram-obsessed millennials say to inject a sense of purposefulness into their vapid, snowflaky, anxiety-racked existences. You’ve undoubtedly seen some 25-year-old hashtag “#livingmybestlife” on an instragrammed, heavily-filtered photo of avocado toast or a yoga pose on the side of a hill. The problem with the phrase (besides overuse, which can be said of every word/phrase on this list): it’s a coping mechanism for adulthood which manifests as a substitute for embracing adult responsibilities. Life’s twists and turns aren’t always purposeful. Every sunset can’t be profound. Every meal isn’t an experience. Get over it and, like magic, you’ll be happier and find true enjoyment in the genuinely memorable experiences. 

(3) “Canceled”

This is a put-down popularly used on Twitter to not simply express disapproval but also encourage the marginalization of something perceived as negative. Example: “I can’t deal with your racist views on immigration. #Canceled.” A more benign example: “Wendy’s got rid of my favorite sandwich. #Canceled.” My issue with canceled: you can’t tune out everything you don’t like. That’s not how life works, at least not life in a free society with a First Amendment. More dangerously, it perpetuates the idea that some people aren’t worthy of free speech. Yes, we’ll all felt that way about someone or some organization at one time or another, but any reasonable person (who has also spent a reasonable amount of time on social media or watching cable news) can see that this attitude is quickly poisoning our body politic. 

(4) “You do you”

In a standardless society? Everyone is afraid to judge anyone for anything. Want to get a college degree but then take a ‘year off’ to juggle? Wear sunglasses indoors? Wear teapots as earrings and rotten meat as shoulder pads? #YouDoYou. What’s really happening: the self-esteem movement (which kicked into high gear in the 1990s, when I was a kid) has turned into a Frankenstein’s monster. Some social norms and mores aren’t just good but they’re important. We’re trying to have a civilization here.

(5) “Woke”

Everyone who doesn’t share your far-Left, hyper-sensitive, extremely specific ideology/worldview isn’t just wrong; they’re asleep. Like in the Matrix. That’s the implication! So, ironically, holding yourself out as a ‘woke’ bloke is one of the least tolerant things you could possibly do. 

(6) “Ratio”

Back in December 2018, I made fun of AOC on Twitter for announcing a self-care break (before she even started her new job in Congress). She retweeted my criticism, and then I was “ratioed” by her goon squad. It’s what happens on Twitter when users who believe your tweet is bad/incorrect/objectionable swarm your tweet and make sure there are more negative replies than retweets and likes. The ratio maneuver is the Internet equivalent of a lynch mob; I had idiots threatening to ‘drag me’ and leveling direct threats. Did I lose any sleep over it? Of course not. And since Twitter is young and more Democratic than the nation as a whole (in fact, 10% of users generate 80% of the all tweets), the ratio mob isn’t even proving the point they’re out to make (that the objectionable tweeter’s opinion is a minority opinion among the public at-large). What they’re really demonstrating is that social media is far nastier and detached from reality than Mainstreet USA.

(7) “Your pronouns”

This is a free country. Rename yourself whatever you’d like. Want pink hair? Okay. Want to wear a dress despite the fact that you’re a dude? Alright. But gender is SCIENCE (penis = man, and vagina = woman), and even if you AREN’T a fan of science, you must realize that we can’t function as a society if every substantive encounter requires a complicated disclosure of highly-subjective personal preferences. You’re entitled to fundamental rights – embodied by the Bill of Rights – and basic human decency. Nothing more. Nothing less. Grow up!

(8) “Strong, independent woman”

I was raised by strong professional women. I’ve worked for strong professional women. What I’ve found? The women who are constantly reminding us in 2019 that they’re “strong and independent” are often anything but. Equality is reinforced in the doing, not in the saying. If you feel the need to constantly remind everyone that you’re strong? And independent? You’re weak, and your insecurities need to be addressed. Pronto. 

(9) “Sorry, not sorry”

This one is everywhere; it’s even the current title of crazy actress-turned-Twitter activist Alyssa Milano’s podcast. It’s also insincere and nonsensical because what you’re actually communicating is that you’re not sorry for an act or admission which you think is controversial. Man or woman-up, people. You’re not sorry. Just say so. 

(10) Fake News.

Fake news IS real. Fake news IS everywhere. But what is fake news? Is it completely fabricated news (e.g. a tabloid story about Donald Trump fathering an Martian love child)? Or just biased or one-sided news? See the challenge? So it’s better to be specific than lazy in the war against the proliferation of low-quality information. Yelling ‘fake news’ is about as specific (and unhelpful) as saying ‘it’s weather’ when someone asks you what’s happening outside. Owing to the ambiguity, the term now refers to little more than “news or facts I don’t like” to most of its users.