Are senseless platitudes our most irritating pandemic habit?

Lynn Imbier

David Penberthy.How am I in this with someone like Karl Stefanovic? Picture: Today

I really do not know about you but the subsequent time a celebrity tells me “we’re all in this together”, I’m heading to set my foot through my Microsoft Teams display screen.

In his beautifully-titled creating guidebook Cliches: Prevent Them Like the Plague, journalist Nigel Fountain takes intention at the a lot of clapped-out constructions that clutter and debase the English language.

Fountain’s argument is that with so a lot of thousands of words and phrases at our disposal it takes a specific model of laziness to shuffle them all around like magnets in their unimaginative, prepackaged type.

During this present plague, cliches, to use a cliche, have arrived at plague-like proportions, some coming with the extra reward of getting factually mistaken.

Cliche selection a single on the checklist of shame is the word “unprecedented”. The frequent and inaccurate use of this word states a truthful little bit about the fashionable ambivalence towards possessing any genuine information of heritage.

Numerous men and women – some of them journalists – evidently feel that unparalleled implies “something I just cannot recall happening” or “something I never figured out about”. The real truth is that the 2020 coronavirus pandemic is fairly quickly a single of the most precedented occasions the entire world has at any time seen.

It is only unparalleled if you have never read of the Black Death, the Plague of Athens, the Spanish flu, the Ebola virus, polio, SARS, MERS, swine flu and AIDS.

Not all of these nasties arrived at pandemic status, but on their early estimates they did threaten to get rid of us all, demonstrating that if you believe the menace of imminent loss of life at the fingers of a virus is a novelty, you really should set on your facial area mask and get out a lot more.

Cliche selection two is “the new normal.” A wonderful title for a band, confident – in point I reckon I noticed The New Typical supporting The Versions at the Toucan Club in 1985. But “the new normal” has pretty rapidly turn out to be a hackneyed way to describe adjustments in conduct which are ideally only temporary, and frequently fairly minor.

To use a genuinely amazing word, “the new normal” has the outcome of catastrophising every factor of the pandemic reaction, whereby the want to use hand sanitiser when getting into the community grocery store, or not cough at will on public transportation, is held up as a main, daily life-altering development that proves our past assumptions about the character of existence have been ripped from beneath us.

In the entire world of advertising, no self-respecting copywriter can even believe about creating a script at the second without having the tiresome and predictable use of Zoom and Microsoft Teams visuals to labour the point (as if we want reminding) that we are performing and socialising remotely, and to established it all up with some hangdog, melancholy preamble about the taxing character of daily life below lockdown.

Really feel free of charge to insert your have adjective below, folks: In these troubled periods, in these uncertain periods, in these screening periods, in these nervous periods, in these demanding periods, in these difficult periods.

It’s like a depressing model of the match Mad Libs, but you can make it vaguely entertaining by inserting a random and inappropriate adjective, e.g. in these lifeless sexy periods, in these inflatable periods, in these bat-flavoured periods.

In these troubled periods, we are also looking at a rise in non sequiturs, statements that do not follow on logically from by themselves, the place there is some random coronavirus reference in adverts that actually have nothing at all to do with the pandemic.

I noticed an advert on Television set the other night time for a store selling blinds and curtains. The opening line of the business reported the coronavirus had improved almost everything and that their blinds and curtains have been now thirty per cent off.

Is there a causal backlink there? Are the blinds more cost-effective mainly because of the coronavirus? Is this what chaos concept implies – male in China eats pangolin, blinds and curtains, out they go!

Or in these troubled/screening/uncertain periods, are we all just safer for the duration of the lockdown if we hold the curtains drawn?

The troublesome sibling to the “trouble times” build is the assertion that “Now, a lot more than ever…”, as in: Now, a lot more than at any time, your pet demands a certain model of pet meals, your mom and dad want you to call them, your garden demands to be scarified.

It could possibly have a thing to do with the closure of my community pub but now, a lot more than at any time, in these demanding periods, I have had plenty of.

And by the duration of the straight, the most irritating of all is the a single I referenced at the begin. We are all in this alongside one another. It’s as if an formal edict was sent out at the begin of the lockdown telling every celebrity in Australia that they would have their contracts shredded unless they agreed to be filmed at home in Zoom structure donning Peter Alexander pyjamas, keeping a mug of cocoa and sporting intentionally-mussed hair, in holding with the stylings of iso-chic, in advance of turning wistfully to the camera and saying: We’re all in this alongside one another. And really do not neglect to cue that infernal jingle.

The question I have obtained is, how? How I am in this with, say, Karl Stefanovic? Is he lurking in the research below someplace as I produce this? How did he even get my tackle? I knew I should not have downloaded that COVID application.

As with the wonderful band Spinal Tap – who briefly played as The Originals, only to modify their new to The New Originals when they figured out of a further band called The Originals – the new normal will ideally soon just turn out to be normal, and we can all get again to talking generally once again.


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