I was once known as the communication profession’s youngest curmudgeon. Now that I find myself squinting open-mouthed at my computer screen on Zoom calls looking for the bottoms of my trifocals, my attitude has hardly improved.
Just this last week, I have angrily typed the following “ideas” into my Writing Boots file:
• Young woman’s professional bio. She includes among her hobbies, “building an authentically curated life.”
• First-time author, preparing to record his audio book. Asks his Facebook friends if he should read it straight, or let himself get “a little emotional” during the recording. Everybody says he should go ahead and cry. Everybody but me. (I don’t say anything.)
• Whenever someone tries to shame you for not knowing a thing—you’ve never seen Animal House!?—it’s usually best interpreted as a desperate, last-ditch defense of the primacy of their parochial experience. (The correct answer is, “You’ve never read Proust, in the original French?”)
• The most insufferable people in the world aren’t those who begin every answer to a question with the word “So …” Or, those who insert an underhandedly coercive “right?” in the middle of their every declarative sentence. No, the grandmasters of the grandiose are those who frequently begin sentences by saying, “What’s interesting is …”
Shouldn’t it go without saying that whatever aspect of a particular subject you’re choosing to bore me about is the aspect that you find interesting? And isn’t it only polite of you to let me decide whether what you’ve deigned to discuss happens to be “what’s interesting?” Or do I have no role in this conversation, beyond dutifully dying of carbon dioxide poisoning?