I need for you to read this column. No, that’s not true. I’d like you to read this column. I don’t need for you to read this column. Have you noticed that everyone “needs” these days? “I need for you to clean up your room.” “I need for you to call me on Friday.” What was wrong with simply saying, “Clean up your room” or “Please call me on Friday?” It’s all about “needs” now. Using “need” is bad enough, but adding the word “for” after it just makes this cant phrase even worse.
Worse yet is the addition of the words “for me” at the end of a request. If someone says, “I need for you to take a deep breath for me,” it sounds like he’s asking another person to breathe for him when really what is meant is, “Please take a deep breath.” Speaking that way obscures the meaning of what you’re trying to communicate.
All this “needing” and “for me” business has came from New Age “I’m okay, you’re okay” therapy culture. It’s the same personal growth philosophy that has taken away other easy-to-understand terms and replaced them with feel-good obscure cants. We don’t have problems or difficulties anymore; we have “issues.” A difficulty is something to be overcome. A problem is something to solve. But an issue is something to ponder or discuss, ideally in a group therapy session with sandalwood incense burning and Kenny G playing in the background.
This past week I had nothing but grief with my computer. But when my computer doesn’t operate properly I don’t have “issues” with it, I have problems with it. If I have problems with my computer, I have to have it fixed. But having “issues” with my computer sounds like my computer and I should be sitting down together to discuss how best to continue our relationship.
When we lose a loved one or something else of a negative nature occurs in our lives, we now look for “closure.” Closure is another New Age term. What did we do before we had “closure?” I guess we just had to deal with whatever it was that happened to us, take a deep breath, and go on with our lives. Or as the old song said, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” Now we look for closure.
Kids aren’t told that they’re doing wrong anymore; they are told that they are “behaving inappropriately.” To say that they are doing wrong is, God forbid, making a value judgment, and we certainly don’t want to do that, do we? There is no right or wrong, there is just appropriate and inappropriate. Wrong is strong, you don’t ever won’t to do wrong. Inappropriate is kind of wispy, a behavioral choice. And certainly non-judgmental.
It’s not only the therapists that sabotage our language; the media has their sticky fingers in it too. A case in point is the word “iconic.” Have you noticed lately that everything has become iconic? It has become the hot new word. Marilyn Monroe is described as an iconic movie star. Coca Cola is an iconic soft drink. TIME is an iconic newsmagazine. A painting of Jesus Christ on wood is an iconic icon.
“Worldwide” has become “global.” The Orient has become Asia. England was always Britain, of course, but until recent years we mostly called it England and its citizens English. Now it’s Britain and “the Brits” more often than not.
And the word “community” is tacked onto any and all groups. If we speak of all people in the world, it’s the global community. We don’t speak of Latin people or black people; we speak of The Latino community and the African-American community. As if everyone in those groups live in the same neighborhood. The label is applied to religions too – the Jewish community, the Catholic community. The inference being that they all must think alike on any given subject.
Is there an obese community? Is there a media community? Is there a teenage community? Is there a senior citizen community? (Besides Leisure World.)
Well, that’s about all I have this week. If there was anything about this column that you thought was inappropriate or if you have any issues with anything I said, then I need for you to write me. Just send your letter to me in care of the columnist community and I’ll do my best to see that you get closure.