A woman I know was talking the other day about how there’s a buzzword that’s very popular right now in the U.S.: Absolutely.
She was describing how people use the word as a reply in numerous situations nowadays.
Like when you ask a server at a restaurant for a little something more, and they simple say, “absolutely.”
Or when you’re having a conversation with a friend and you complain about how some politician should be exposed for their transgression, and your friend agrees and says, “absolutely.”
Do I think she had a point? Absolutely (oops, sorry).
It’s true. Do you hear that word absolutely all the time now? Absolutely (OK, but it’s hard to stop).
Is its popularity obvious and inarguable? Absolutely (dang it, that’s enough).
But in reality, it’s just a buzzword that has no actual substance in most circumstances because there are about a million other words or phrases that could be used in the same way. And it’s just a phase anyway, and at some point in the not-too-distant-future it will absolutely be replaced in the same manner its predecessors were (oh for Pete’s sake!).
Like “no problem.”
No that long ago, if you asked a server for a bottle of ketchup, the reply was like to be, “no problem.”
Before that, it was “you bet,” and if you asked your mechanic if he could fix that noise in your truck’s engine, he would probably have replied with those two words.
And the list goes of popular buzzwords used for agreeing or confirming over the years goes on and on, including “by all means,” “certainly,” “sure thing,” “definitely” and many, many more.
It’s all pretty interesting to me, because the only words anyone really needs in these cases are “yes ma’am” and “yes sir.” I come from a background where those phrases were used without hesitation and represented politeness and respect.
Ah, but not so fast; using courteous, gracious language like that could get you in trouble these days with the gender this-and-that crowd, so it might be advisable to say, “yes person” or something like that.
Wait. We can’t do that either, because we might be talking to someone who “identifies” as a cat or a turtle, and we shouldn’t be so rude as to lump every humanoid entity into a category as narrow as human.
Maybe we should just stick with something benign like, “OK.”
Nah, that takes all the fun out of it. We should probably just keep going with the flow and use whatever buzzword or words are currently trendy. That’s probably a safe approach, too, because everyone else will be doing it.
Anyway, do I think that’s a good idea?
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: email@example.com.