We all use them. We all think we are clever when we do. We are all annoyed at others who misuse or overuse them. I fall victim to all three. Worst of all, I cannot stand the use of clichés, for any reason.
This pet peeve comes from the laziness involved in using one. Rather than explain your own line of thinking, using a term we have all heard hundreds of times prove a lack of creativity.
A cliché is defined as “an artistic expression or idea that has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning and turning it into a stereotype when at some point in the past it was considered meaningful.” While they are not always false or inaccurate, they are not always true, as many people who rely on them would lead you to believe. The word comes from a french term which is also used to describe a stereotype, which some clichés most definitely are, while some are simply facts written to sound poetic.
While this list will not become as popular as the Banished Word List compiled at Lake Superior State University by their PR and media program, I am going to attempt to retire some clichés whose use has become a cliché unto itself.
2012 Clichéd Cliché List of Retirements
1. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON
Actually, nothing happens for a reason. Thus, allowing anyone to attribute any reason that something happened. This is more of an excuse for religious or spiritual people to cast their beliefs onto you without quoting scripture.
Extremely insensitive and evil people will say this to you when, say, you deliver a stillborn child. They are incapable of human emotion and feel like this is appropriate.
A cliché that is never true, and often causes people to cry. Simple #1 ranking for 2011, in our inaugural list.
Alternative: Some things really suck.
2. PERCEPTION IS REALITY
The original phrase was “perception becomes reality”, which makes a lot more sense. Over time, it has changed to become a promotion of delusion. There is nothing worse than a boss using this a rationale for why the project is not finished. Most of us would rather hear, “I’m the boss. It is what it is. Finish it.”
Instead, you will hear people use this as a way to create a rationale for why their perceived subjectivity is actually objective.
If I perceive you to be a delusion psycho lunatic, then it is reality. Done and done.
This is retired at #2, because I have heard this more times in the last five years than I ever want to admit, and while that makes this a totally subjective listing. My perception is that it’s still objective, so…
Alternative: Perception is my reality.
3. TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS
The origins of this quote was for when friends fight or there was a dispute with a family member. This was not meant as a comforting statement when people die. Time does not heal those wounds — regardless of who it is.
There were people who reached out to my wife and I after our baby died and used this as comforting statement. Instead it was the most insensitive thing we heard the whole time. Nine months later, thinking about it infuriates me even more than it did back in January.
The reason it hurts so bad? Because there is nothing true about it, even outside of the grieving process. Do you think time will heal the wound for Eminem that his dad walked out on his family? Time will never patch the relationship between myself and an old best friend of mine.
Time doesn’t heal all. Time heals some – like when you spill milk (2012 candidate?), but not pain that rips you at the core of who you are. Not pain that, if we do have souls, changes the makeup of your soul. People who say this have the maturity of a 12-year-old.
Alternative: Time heals all flesh wounds.
4. IT IS WHAT IT IS
Yes, it is. (Worthless)
It also isn’t what it isn’t. (Constructive)
Or is what it isn’t. (Vague)
Or isn’t what it is. (Creative)
Alternative: [Say Nothing]
5. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Technically, this is one is true — which makes it the only 2011 retiree that is factual, but it is almost as worthless as the cliché it follows. It is so blatantly obvious.
Here is why: It is better late than never. It is also better to win than to lose. It is better to get hired than fired. Oh, and it’s better to be on time than late. You could do this all day. It will always be better to get something awesome or almost awesome than something that is worse than that or totally awful.
Since people who say this are smeared in arrogance and pretentiousness, the alternative will still achieve their intended passive-aggressive nature.
Alternative: So nice of you to join us.
6. HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY
I don’t hear this one as much as others near the top this year. If it was more common, it might be number one — because this is most ludicrous cliché in history.
If honesty was the best policy, I would get fired from my job every single day. I have an inclination that I would not be the only one. At my organization. In my office suite.
If honesty was the best policy, the divorce rate in America would be 110% (another 2012 candidate?).
Honesty is noble, moral, ethical, virtuous. The best policy? Nope.
For those of you that think this cliché is not implying that honesty is the best policy all the time — I refer you to the definition of policy.
The alternative works on so many levels.
Alternative: Honesty is the best…honestly.
7. DON’T PUT OFF UNTIL TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
Yet another extremely virtuous and inspirational saying, but not at all applicable to reality. You can carpé diém all day long, but a day still has 24 hours in it. You may have every intention and capabilities to get something done, but it just doesn’t happen.
I put more things off on my most productive of days, because I am constantly thinking about a weeks worth of stuff. So, I really don’t like this one. It sounds all cute, but it’s just conjecture with no substance.
Alternative: Be really, really productive today.
8. LIKE TAKING CANDY FROM A BABY
There is something extremely wrong about this one, aside from its falsehood. To follow up anything; a business idea, a line to hit on a woman at the bar, your investment idea, whatever…with, “it will be like taking candy from a baby,” automatically makes your good idea into something sinister and evil.
This one is probably only a half falsehood. If we are talking about a newborn infant, then it is pretty easy to take candy from them. If we are talking about the adult perception of a baby, which for some (read: me) includes anyone whose age is still in single-digits, then it is quite hard to take that candy.
Just ask a mother how strong a grip a 6-month old can have when they get a lock of hair. Those babies got some pipes on ’em. Regardless of the sinister nature of the cliché, I call (some level of) BS on this one.
Alternative: Like stealing pure awesome from pure innocence.
9. EASY AS PIE
I’m sure baking is easy for a lot of people, but it certainly can’t be easy for everyone. I can think of 100 things that are easier than baking, even if I knew what I was doing. Unless this means ‘easy as eating pie’, in which case I agree and would retract its retirement.
However, pie isn’t even the easiest item to eat. Yogurt? Applesauce? Saltines? Easy as ‘Sauce would be awesome. That should catch on.
Alternative: Easy as sleep.
10. WE’RE TAKING IT ONE GAME AT A TIME
Last but not least (definitely a 2012 candidate!), I had to add a sports cliché. Oh, how I hate this one! Written directly from the communications and PR staff of your favorite team, no professional competitor has ever…ever…EVER thought this way.
Now, we can debate that they SHOULD think this way, that it is a healthy and focused way to go about competition. On that, I might digress. But they don’t! When I hear a journalist ask a player if they are looking forward to playing their old team next month, and they respond with this, it makes me want to vomit.
They do this in the playoffs, which is even worse. As if the strategy for the pitching rotation proves that no one is looking at it one game at a time. They think we’re stupid, or starved for sweet little guy-next-door momma’s boys. You’d have to ask someone else on that, I have no idea.
Alternative: Did you lose the script from the last time you asked me?
There it is. The first annual clichéd cliché list of retirements. I hope you enjoyed it. I’ve never asked anyone to commit directly about something in a post, but there’s a first time for everything, right? (Seriously, that one I didn’t even plan. It just happened. Consider it another candidate.)
If you have any clichés that annoy the crap out of you that were not on this list, or agree (or vehemently disagree) with one of these, let me know.