You probably remember the presidential debates of 2008. It wasn’t long ago, so this image may even be fresh on your memory. In fact, you’ve probably seen quite a number of these tag clouds in the last five or so years. The general idea is that for a certain span of time, or for a certain person, blog, or media source, there are numerous buzzwords that continue to crop up over and over. They repeat themselves in a way that they overwhelm the rest of the language. I’m not quite sure where the idea came from to create these, but I enjoy the pun which lurks between these codes and the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Over the course of a year I think our lives take on the same dimensions. As though every conversation, every news story, and every book we read add up into some vast graphic where ten or twenty key buzzwords overshadow everything else. This is something I’ve been learning to watch for since I graduated from college. In 2007 Discipline and Sustainability were my buzzwords. In 2008 Social Justice and Simplicity emerged. In 2009 Realization,Interdisciplinary, Cognition and Alaska were some huge highlights. In 2010 Authenticity and Responsibility seem to be some of the trump cards.
I say “trump cards” intentionally, because every time I think I am about to be so clever and sneaky pulling my way intellectually around the pack of twentysomethings I associate with, these smart friends of mine pull out these phrases, tell me they are studying these social tools, they are seeking to be Authentic, and Responsible. I am left gibbering such banal tunes as “I totally know what you mean!” So goes it for being fresh and/or original.
Are there phrases in your life this year (or in past years) that come up continually? Do you feel like you are supposed to be learning from these repeated run-ins, or do you just get frustrated with them?