I’ve always been a stickler for language. OH, I’m sorry. The modern term is Grammar Nazi. I pay close attention to the way people say things. The words they use or omit. I have always been fascinated by delicate prose and exquisite vocabulary. I just finished reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the erudite use of language was refreshingly sophisticated.
When I was a Freshman in High School, I was invited to tour Indiana University. (I was accepted after high school but couldn’t afford to go). I was a computer geek and anticipated that part of our visit. Two Instructors were talking to a small group of us, explaining the virtues of higher education. Interjected in their conversation was a brief mention of the differences between the way the learned and unlearned communicate. One man said, “You may have noticed that not once did either of us use the word like, and we also refuse to employ modern colloquialisms.”
His statement struck me. They were right. Since then, I have tried to manage my speech. Later in high school I studied Latin and took a vocabulary course, as well as speed reading. I already told you I’m a geek.
A few years back I hosted my own radio show, and while studying how to adjust my voice for a fuller and more robust sound, I also learned a few things about non-regional diction and neutral accent. I have been accused of being from one of the northern states due to the way I round my vowels more fully. I find it humorous that while watching the local news that newscasters and reporters fresh out of school will still work on their non-regional diction while reciting their reports, causing them to overenunciate and speak more slowly for it. It’s simply something I notice.
When I was a police officer, and more importantly as a detective, I discovered it was necessary to choose my words very carefully. Inflection, tone, pitch, vocabulary, they all matter during interviews.
When talking with my clients, I endeavor to choose my words quite cautiously. I desire to say exactly what I mean and how I mean it.
I’ve noticed that because of the Ebonics craze of the 2000s, language has changed from “We will host a dinner.” Or “We will have a raffle.” It has now become “We will be having….” This drives me insane, especially when I find it written by people who should know better.
I’m not even going to get into the modern use of the phrase, “I was like..” I’ve talked with those who recite previous conversations line by line and with full emotional discourse by using “I was like, and then he was like, and then I was like, and then he was like” Ugh.
All this leads me to the topic of my discourse today.
Companies are quite selective in how they phrase the descriptions, benefits, features, and functions of their products. I’ll provide a few examples.
“My A1c was here, but now it’s down. Thanks to whatever brand drug we’re selling.” Note they never indicate the percentage of improvement, or how many points you could drop. They only indicate that it could go down.
Balance of Nature used to say in their spots that their product could reverse disease. They’ve changed their ads now to simply imply that users have “more energy.”
Lays Potato Chips, “You can’t eat just one.”
Doritos Chips, “Crunch all you want. We’ll make more.”
The latest Cheez-Its ads show a “test lab” where the teste subjects are going crazy over the new cheesy taste (all chemicals btw) and the test proctor is fearfully clinging to the glass observation window frantic that the test subjects desire more of this great taste.
Hell, they’re practically daring you to buy their product. And that’s what it is, a product.
I’ve noticed there are no ads for celery, apples, avocados, or shitake mushrooms. Hmmm.
My favorite ads are for drugs. OK, I admit. I am quite anti-pharma. But when an ad (which are only legal in America and New Zealand – no drug ads in any other country) explains in ten seconds the disease the drug is meant to “manage” and 40 seconds warning you of the reasons you shouldn’t take the product, you have to figure there is a problem.
“Ask your doctor if (this drug that may cause stomach and intestinal wall ruptures, blurry vision, bacterial infection on your ‘taint’, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, migraines, coma, and death) is right for you.”
This is where we arrive at the summit of my argument today. Words used to sell to you.
I’m really troubled by the verbiage of the latest TV ads I’ve seen in the last few years.
It began a few years back with Lincoln Automobiles. After spending nearly 60 seconds defining and describing all the latest state of the art highly technical and unnecessarily posh and pampering appointments in their new line of sedans and SUVs, they inform you that this car is..
“The luxury you deserve.”
Do you really? Do you really deserve heated steering wheels, a wide screen touch TV that controls every function of every aspect of the vehicle, power everything, soundproofed cabin with HEPA filters, cowskin appointments, and 37 speakers – just to get you to work so the car can sit in your employers parking lot all day? Then you’ll drive it home so it can sit in your driveway all night. All for the low price of $97,865.
Yeah, check out that monthly payment – you deserve it.
Deserve is only one of the annoying buzzwords I’ve heard from advertisers recently.
Safe, secure, protected are the others.
Buy the Generac generator. It will provide the safety you deserve. The ad shows a family watching TV when the power goes out in a storm. They all panic. But, in a moment, the lights return. They are safe. Safe from what? The Dark? What would they do if they had to light a candle?
Another is PC Matic. Buying this product will give you the protection you deserve.
I guess after Lincoln rang the bell, all the other advertising agencies began plying you with a threatened safety and security, assuring you that you’ll feel much safer if you give them your money.
Do you feel safe right now? Are you secure? Do you really feel protected? As long as you feel safe, I suppose it’s alright.
As a counterpoint, today I saw an offering on my Amazon account that provides in-the-garage delivery if you have a smart overhead door opener. Apparently, you give the delivery driver your smart door code and he will open your garage, drop off your package, and drive away.
I’m not certain I feel safe, secure, or protected. I guess I need to spend money on a smart garage door, and a Generac to keep it running in case a storm knocks the power out.
Ultimately, you’re being sold. You’re slowly being convinced that if you spend some of your money, you’ll feel safer. Kinda like a product that was released a couple of years ago that didn’t really help anything, but made you feel safe. Now that ploy is utilized ad nauseum to trick you buying just about anything.
I’m waiting until Domino’s tries it. “Buy our pizza, it’s the safety you deserve.”
“Buy this deluxe electric toothbrush with a flashlight, back scratcher, calculator, and camera. It’s the luxury you deserve.”
“Buy these plush bath towels. It’s the protection you deserve.”
“If it says Libby Libby Libby on the label label label, you’ll feel safe and secure.” Okay, you must be of a certain age to get that one, sorry.
“Duracell. (bing bong bing) The coppertop battery that will make you feel the safety you deserve.”
I love those shop at home channels. They will sell just about any gadget under the sun, under the guise that “you don’t have to worry.” They even made a movie about Joy Mangano, who invented half those gadgets.
Point is, you’re smarter than this.
You know that if a company has to trick you into buying their goods, you don’t need their goods. They need your money. You know that there’s something wrong when a drug company tells you all the reasons why you shouldn’t buy their drug and then encourages you to ask your doctor about it. I’ve often thought about asking my PCP if he is ever weary of his patients asking about the latest drug they’ve seen on TV.
He likely wouldn’t tell me. He might just try to put me on one of the drugs.
But at least I’ll feel safe. I deserve it.
Until then, stay sharp my friends,
Oh, just for fun. Keep count of how many times you hear the words exactly, literally, and actually used in YouTube videos or in conversations.
“On today’s video, I’ll show you exactly how to make this delicious recipe. It is literally the best you’ve ever tasted.” That’s a relief. I thought he was going to give a general idea of approximately how to go about it.
Joe “Weeg” Weigant is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Metaphysician, and Empowerment Coach. He combines bodywork, energy work, and coaching to relieve anxiety and depression and balance the nervous system. Weeg coaches his clients to drop the white flag of victimhood and pick up the banner of empowerment, inspiring them to stop riding in life’s trunk and take the wheel of their lives.
Weeg sells herbal products by Nature’s Sunshine, Pure Herbs Ltd. and Juice Plus. He teaches Karate and Tai Chi, Reiki Certification, as well as seminars and workshops in metaphysical and spiritual matters. Weeg is available for sessions at Tri State Holistic Wellness by appointment only.
Contact by text 812.568.5356, or Facebook Messenger to set an appointment.