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Social Scene

Please Wait. Don’t “Curate”

I know that you have noticed how certain words and phrases suddenly become “hip and cool,” and then used to the point of ridiculousness. Many of these “au courant” terms come from African-American culture, teens on social media, entertainers and are quotable lines from movies. Some are fun for everyone to use, which means they quickly pass from cool to passe in about a picosecond. Nothing is worse for a trending term than for it to be adopted by the general public as far as Millennials and teens are concerned.

Examples of phrases taken over by adults from the past? Saturday Night Live’s Mike Myer’s character from the “Wayne’s World” skits where he made a statement and then immediately said, “Not!” Something like, “Man, you are so brainy. Not!” Everyone picked that word and phrasing habit and used it for months. Maybe you didn’t mean to; it just happened.

african female news reporter in live broadcasting

Another one was the phrase, “At the end of the day….” This one is still being used ad nauseam by newscasters, politicians, and writers of all ilk. On a particular evening news program a few months ago, my husband and I counted a much quoted U.S. Senator using this phrase eleven times in a one minute answer to a news anchor’s question. Eleven times! The reporter then went on to use the words himself four more times! We turned the program off after that because we were afraid of hearing “at the end of the day” one more time that evening. Enough already!

A word that has enjoyed a good run, and may be nearing the end of its usefulness, is  “so.” As in, “you are so out of here!” or “you are so busted!” Maybe even, “You look great! That dress is so you!”

How about the phrase, “what’s up with that?” Another major trend was making a statement and then saying, “Really???!!!” I hear both of these every day, but less and less each month. Another trend bites the dust, I guess.

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I began noticing a few months ago the growing usage of the word “curate.” Professional art historians at museums and galleries legitimately can claim to “curate”  exhibits and permanent collections of paintings, photographs, prints, and books. In the truest sense of the word, these specialists select the works that will be shown by the artists and writers in their fields of expertise.

Not long into 2015 though, I noticed advertisements for “carefully curated” items in stores.  Some of these goods were beautiful, but many were quite pedestrian. Consider these instances:

 

  • A local grocery story in NYC touted “carefully curated out-of-season tropical fruits,”
  • An upper West side shoe store offered, “carefully curated winter boots on sale for the month of January.” (Please note: curation is always done carefully, never carelessly!)
  • Articles began appearing about “carefully curated spring fashions for women” in almost every NYC department store.

Assortment of cheeses and knife on wooden cheese board, close-up, glass and bottle of red wine in background

Even cheese stores were offering “carefully curated cow, sheep and goat cheeses for Easter celebrations.”

Clearly, “curate” was an important word in 2015. In taking on-line courses for social media, my instructors cautioned the students in the classes to be “very selective in curating the images for their Instagram and Pinterest postings.”

Gads, spring wasn’t over, and I was already sick of the word, and it was gaining velocity. We are spending the summer in Carmel, CA, and even our tiny local paper, The Carmel Pine Cone is dotted with ads using the dreaded word. It is spreading like wildfire!

Can I ask all of you a giant favor? Please use this word in a very limited way. Adopt the phrase, “Please wait, don’t curate!” Take it to heart. Someone somewhere is cringing every time they hear or read the word. That someone, or maybe there is a legend of us out here, find it so pretentious and self-aggrandizing that it is downright painful to read it. If you have to use it, please, please employ it sparingly. I thank you and probably scores of others do too.

Do you have a word “phoebe,” too? What word or words get on your nerves? I would love to hear from you. I will publish a list of them.

Happy reading.

 

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