When a good word loses its shine

We’ve all seen this many times. A perfectly good word gets noticed by a group of people, who grab it and seemingly hold on for dear life.

The poor word. It has so many hangers-on that its coattails start to fray. It becomes overburdened. Overused. It keeps creeping up on you.

It becomes a vapid cliche.

We all have examples. But right now, the word I’m referring to is: conversation.

Thanks in part to the convergence (another example) of marketing and social media, conversation is as sought after as the latest tabloid teen star.

Everyone wants to have a piece of one. Are you having one? If not, you should be. I just started one. How many have you had lately? Was it good? You wouldn’t believe how many of them I’ve had today. I just started another one. I don’t know what I did without them.

Now, I’m not saying words shouldn’t evolve. They should. Language is ever-changing and that’s what makes it a beautifully flawed living organism.

I’m also not advocating a vow of silence (as opposed to the Cone of Silence which I always like).

However, when I hear a word used in business 10 times a day or more, it starts to lose its meaning and context; its sense of self.

So what’s the solution (yet another word that lost its way when it became synonymous with products and services)?

I think we should embrace the concept, not the cliche. Keep the lines of communication open. That’s one of the best aspects of social media. But maybe we should stop boasting about all the so-called conversations we claim we’re having.

Or to borrow a page from Joan Rivers, I’d like to ask you, ‘Can we talk?’.


One thought on “When a good word loses its shine

  1. You nailed it, Martin. Particularly when much of what is being trumpeted as “conversations” is really (narrowcasting) chit-chat and subjective opinions. That’s not a conversation; rather, it’s an echo chamber. And it’s not one that the majority of clients/customers/readers are very interested in engaging in. (I know, because I’m constantly asking non-bloggers if they are reading and participating in blogs. Most aren’t, because they aren’t finding much original and relevant content, let alone the constant criticism that much of the blogosphere feels too much like high school cliques.)

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