Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Comfort Zone

In the last few weeks it has come to my attention that we live in a euphemistic society. Oh you say, that's not news. No, but it's getting worse and we need to watch out for it especially from this particular President.
A recent Bill Maher show guest was Republican Pollster Frank Luntz. Luntz wrote a book called Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear. During the show Bill Maher said "Bush has made us weaker. Why don't the Democrats just say the word "weak" over and over? "Bush lost the war. He made us weaker." Because he did. The National Intelligence estimate that came out last year said, undeniably, all our intelligence agencies agree, the war in Iraq has created more terrorists."
Weak Weaker and more Weak. Say it! Why are the Democrats afraid to just say it?

Anyway, under Lunzt's skill in language crafting, Bush tells us that Global Warming is really just "Climate Change", drilling for oil is actually "Responsible Exploration for Energy" and logging is "Healthy Forests Initiative". Yep, sounds better and less scary. So I guess we should listen when the Administration talks about how the Troop Surge is working, even though the violence has increased. What is this administration's meaning of "winning"?

Of course we are all aware of used car sale tricks but guess what, there are no more "used" cars. They are all pre owned or pre driven vehicles. How 'bout that?

On 20/20 a recent report on the benefits and problems of selling your house yourself instead of using a broker was interesting especially regarding the sales ads.
"The dead giveaway for a house that's in trouble is the exclamation point. !! When you've got exclamation points littered through the listing, that's probably a sign the house has problems." Uh Huh!!!
Words to watch out for whether writing or reading a real estate ad.....
"Fantastic", "charming", "spacious", "great neighborhood" those are terms that are correlated with lower sales prices. "Fantastic" is a term thrown in when a broker can't think of anything else. Also "cozy" usually means small and "charming" usually means old, dark, dank and small. On the flipside 20/20 found that five descriptors were associated with quality and higher prices: "state of the art," "gourmet," "maple," "granite" and "Corian" (that's a material for countertops).

So beware realty brokers, because 20/20 spilled the beans and also beware if you are doing the Buy Owner thing.

If you've ever been involved in planning a funeral, you know euphemisms abound. Even born and died become sunrise and sunset, appearance/entrance and exit/departed, or came to this earth and left this earth. The funeral itself is now sometimes called a "celebration of life". That's nice. In my culture it used to be mandatory for everyone to be crying and wailing away and falling out during the service. I have been to some doozies, let me tell you. My mother tells me that in the south, back in the day, the service would go on until everyone was crying, no matter how longggg it took. As a kid going to funerals, I'd forget all about the deceased person and watch the show. Don't get me wrong, people are emotional, I am emotional, so I understand getting your cry on. But I do like the focus on the person's life rather than death itself. I like feeling better after a funeral, full of memories and learning how the person touched others instead of full of dread that "soon one morning, death come a-creeping in the room". OMG!

Monica and I went to the bank recently and the young reception/information woman directed us to the waiting area before speaking to our banker. "Please have a seat in the "Comfort Zone".
Comfort Zone?
"Yes", she said in an incredulous embarrassed whisper, "and the bankers cubicles are now called Hotel Rooms". "Have you ever heard of anything so silly?"
Well, the Comfort Zone didn't feel any more comfy than when it was called a waiting area. They didn't even add any new magazines. Do they think we won't notice we are waiting?
So now we are going to a banker's Hotel Room? Not that business can't be conducted in a hotel room, of course it can and not only shady lady biz either. But, how could any bank think that this will conjure up positive connotations in a financial institution? Ok, I get the idea behind the comfort zone, but someone explain the thinking behind the hotel/bank word association.
Of course I asked Rex, our banker, if he had a mini bar. Rex just rolled his eyes and didn't want to talk about it. And wouldn't ya know it, the computer was down, he couldn't get it up and we couldn't take care of business. I'm just saying, watch those euphemisms.

Comedian George Carlin is a master analyst of language usage and he hates euphemisms. This man is a genius.


Anonymous said...

She's No Teacher, She's a "Child Care Professional"
Your post got me thinking about euphemisms at my workplace (aka school). The weekly teacher's meeting is called an "inservice"
Toys are now referred to as manipulatives and with these manipulatives the children do not play they "explore". The time that they "explore with "manipulatives" is not playtime, it is "exporatory time" Scribble Scrabble is now a "pre-writing" skill. Reading group time is now a "Literacy Block". No more top group, middle group and low group. The groups are to be "multi-level."
You don't flunk or fail any more unless you are in third grade and if you do you are "retained". Straignening out a fight between two kids and a toy is now a "conflict resolution"
A reward is "positive reinforcement" and you can't even use the word punishment-it's "consequences". Good grief!!
Here are some examples of excessive punishment-standing in a corner, making a child put gum on his forehead (this humliates the child and promotes poor self-esteem) and the time-out chair.
Now, I'll go along with not making a kid stand for an hour or telling him to put the gum in the trash (excuse me, asking him nicely to put the gum in the trash)
but I refuse to give up my time out chair. (That's another thing he's not in time out he is "removed from the situation") that means he goes to a comfortable table where he can still see what's going on.
Bullshit! (sorry-Cow Manure!!) If a child smacks another child and makes her cry simply because she looked at his shoe (which is blinking and beeping) his little ass is going in an old ugly and uncomfortable time out chair. His mother will take care of the rest of this problem at home which includes taking away those ridulous shoes and putting him on PUNISHMENT!!
Last year, I made the cutest little signs to label my room-the writing center, the math center, the science center etc. My principal looks at them and panics "No no no! They are stations now not centers!"

"Centers" stayed up until June.

And, Centers will be up in the Fall. Or, should I say at the "reopening of educational facilities."

Jackie said...

OMG! This is amazing. One of these days we are gonna euphemism ourselves to the point where we have no idea what we are talking about. Then we can just go back to just saying what we mean without trying to soften it up. Geesh!

Dustin said...

This post was too funny. The "comfort zone?" Are they for real? The funny thing is that you know someone has a job whose sole purpose is to create these ridiculous phrases...and for what?

The comment on the pre-owned cars was so needed. What car dealer in the world thinks that consumers do not understand that a pre-owned car is used?

Well, I have to go now and help my son "explore" outside.

Jackie said...

I'll bet there is a whole team of thinkers who came up with comfort zone/hotel room idea. They probably sat around brainstorming on how to make us feel that we are somewhere other than the bank. But Why?
In the waiting area..ummm comfort zone there is a big abacus type toy for the kids. Why? The wait is usually only a few minutes. Why do we have to teach kids that they must be entertained every second. What's wrong with sitting and observing in a bank. Lots is going on. Also kids need to learn how to behave in business offices and see parents transacting business. Providing kid magazines is a good idea though.
Happy exploring!

Monica Roberts said...

Glad to see a new post from you ;)

The GOP has done it for decades and its past time they got called on it.

'death tax', 'cut and run', 'surge', 'love the sinner but hate the sin', 'school choice',
'creation science'

Orwell also mentioned it in a book you may have heard of called 1984

The GOP also uses Orwellian language to cover up the real effects of legislation they propose

No Child Left Behind
Healthy Forests
Clear Skies
Help America Vote

Jackie said...

Love the sinner, hate the sin, gosh I hate that one.