1/9/07

The Buzz-Word Driven Church

Earlier I did a dextrolinguistics: post about office jargon and Christianese - how the two were insufferable by those to which they were spoken. Well, such an idea has another division: Buzz-Words.

Buzz-Words are as annoying in the office and even in pop culture as they are in church. Sometimes they're unique, but most often they are leached off of someone else's uniqueness. For example, "Web 2.0" is a Buzz-Word describing the changed nature of the Internet for user-based content, greater functionality and pretty little reflective logos like this one to the right. This really isn't such an annoying Buzz-Word because it's pretty creative. What's annoying is when you start talking about Web 3.0 and Company 2.0 or Program 2.0. You're leaching off of the success of one title to create your own title. Not creative, not productive, just kindda dumb.

Another example of a Buzz-Word is an acrostic. This is perhaps the most annoying because it insults the intelligence of the audience by over-simplifying ideas that are better left to stand alone. An acrostic may be good for something that's highly complicated, such as military technology and the like, but to use it in a program you initiate or a model you develop for your church tells the audience "I don't think you're smart enough to remember this, so I'll give you a device by which to make it a bit easier." (Of course, this totally backfires when you have to change a word to squeeze it into the acrostic and end up coming up with a totally obscure and complicated synonym.)

But what really makes a Buzz-Word is the fact that whether it's creative or not it's repeated over and over. This gives to your audience the sense that you love what you've done with this title and you're going to show it off at every chance you get. "Enough, already!" they think, "who does he think he is? Shakespeare?"

Oo! Shakespeare! That's a good segue into my next point. What are the most famous Shakespeare titles? Hamlet. Othello. Romeo and Juliet. Simple, to the point, and kindda vague. (Yes, I know, they're names of the characters . . . just follow me, here.) This is the cure for Buzz-Words. In my humble opinion, a title should let the audience think. If you use an acrostic you're saying "you don't have to think about it, just follow the letters." If you use a parody you're saying "you don't have to think about it 'cause it sounds like a popular title that already exists." Both of them are saying "you don't have to think about it because you're dumb." Pick a title that means something significant, yet isn't immediately obvious. Then, once the audience knows the meaning, they'll never forget it and they'll feel like they're one degree smarter for having it figured out. Then they'll enjoy saying it over and over instead of being annoyed when it comes up again.

Maybe next post I'll explain some ways to come up with good endings to presentations, documents and blog posts.