For example – why have all the places we visit and actions we take while using the internet been given sophomoric, silly names? We don’t do research, we “surf.” We don’t discuss matters with other people, we “chat.” The names of places we go to do research have inane monikers like “Google” and “Yahoo.” And the places where we go to talk to other people have names like “Twitter” and “Facebook,” “Flickr” and “MySpace.”
Am I the only one who thinks it is beneath people such as senators and congressmen, journalists and the president to send a “tweet?” Why do we use such infantile names to describe the things we do online? For that matter, why do we feel we need to do things like “chat” and “tweet,” “like” and “unfriend,” “tag” and “blog” and “poke?” Am I the only one who feels silly just typing these words, let alone using them in conversation?
Maybe it’s a family thing – this embarrassment factor when it comes to silly names and titles. I can still remember my sister deciding not to order something she really wanted at a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant back when we were both kids. Why? Because she was embarrassed to say the words “Patty Melt.” I agree that it sounds something like the name of a hamburger cartoon character. Maybe a friend of Sponge Bob’s. The point is that once we are adults, shouldn’t it really be beneath us to utter phrases that sound like they were written in a junior high school annual?
Of course, it’s not just the Internet. We do it the real world, too. A place to have your hair cut these days can’t just be Bob’s Style Shop. No, it has to be “A Cut Above” or “Sunny and Shears” or even “Hair and Beyond.” Does a supposedly clever business title actually cause people to anticipate a better hair cut?
Restaurants, as mentioned earlier, represent another environment where cuteness rules. The Fresh and Fruity Rooty Tooty (or whatever it’s called) is a good example at Denny’s. Eggs Over My Hammy is another oh too clever meal name. Are the menu writers at Denny’s simply frustrated novelists, or do they actually think people will go to their restaurant because their menu items sound like something out of a kindergarten rhyming game?
Advertisers do their best to portray the people who buy their products as cute and sassy and full of sophomoric wit. Ever see those beer ads where they show full-grown men performing stupid pre-play ritualistic activities in a superstitious attempt to cause a touchdown or tackle to take place? How about that guy who takes Crestor and has a room in his house filled with placards and pennants and other materials celebrating his choice of pharmaceuticals?
Of course, as people will tell me, the ads and the restaurant names, and the internet abbreviations and clever monikers are clearly exaggerations, purposefully designed to let people make fun of themselves in this oh-too-serious world. If that were the case, however, we would chuckle at an ad, or the name of a menu item, then go back to our serious, or at least purposeful lives. But, all too often, I fear, we see all around us that life imitates art. Too many times we see that the strange football rituals depicted in beer ads, the juvenile actions of grown men and women in car commercials, and the banter among fictional customers at fast food restaurants, are actually pretty much right on the money in terms of how many people really do act and talk in public.
Think of people you have seen throughout any typical day. The guys hanging around the copy machine talking sports; the women at a five-hour clothing store sale; the high-school kids at lunch time. Even if you can’t hear every word of their conversations, think about the gestures they make. Let’s face it; we all know people who high five everything that happens all day long. Hear your favorite song on the radio? High Five! The mustard you like is on sale at the grocery store? High Five! You successfully nailed a piece of plywood to a standing row of two-by-fours? High Five!
Must we really react to every event in our lives with some inane slapping of hands? Do we need to almost ritually throw out phrases like “Woo-hoo,” “that’s what I’m talking about!” or “Bring It!” anytime something happens around us?
I’ve been known to cheer at a football game. I’ve congratulated someone for finishing a particularly hard task. I’ve even chuckled to myself at a landscaping firm called “Lawn and Order” or a coffee kiosk called “Deja Brew.” But there should be a time and a place when the cuteness must stop, when we get serious about life for a few minutes, anyway. I hope everyone who reads this will take a moment to look at his of her own actions and consider whether they might be just a little too cutesy in their speech and actions. Especially if you happen to be anywhere over the age of 13.
Come on now everyone, let’s take a look at our own actions and think about being a bit more sophisticated and bit less concerned with popular culture and social standing. Let’s all give it a try okay? That’s the way! High Five!