People spout certain popular phrases at every opportunity because, they think, such phrases fit all occasions. Not surprisingly and once again, what the popular “wisdom” touts as true and applicable is so far off the mark that it is in a different zip code.
In other words, please do not bother to investigate the true meaning behind a pop phrase. Just go with the lemming mentality and use them, whether the idioms fit or not.
Take for example the phrase du jour “Let it go” from the latest Disney propaganda offering disguised as children’s entertainment.
Aside from the catchy title, has anyone taken the time to read the lyrics in their entirety? Elsa spent her entire life obeying her parents’ dictates and hiding her power. When she finally loses control, she feels torn between guilt and the tug of freedom. She chooses freedom and finally does as she pleases without the restraints others forced upon her. She is prepared to let go of the chains and live life her way, even if she has to remain isolated from the world.
The masses adopted the phrase in their usual ignorant bliss.
If you had a bad day, you would feel the need to vent. The purpose of venting is not to seek solutions to given problems. You just want to blow off steam and move on. But some folk cannot restrain themselves and offer advice or solutions, whether you want them or not.
The most common advice of late is “let it go.” What if you just want to enjoy a delicious rant and grump? What if venting is your method of staying sane? You do not want to clutch the event to your bosom and relive the moment ad infinitum. You just want to blow and move on.
But when folks suggest the simplistic advice to let an incident go, they completely miss the point. Such “helpful” folk forget the purpose of venting. Consequently, their suggestion opens the door to yet another venting event because they did not get it and ticked you off.
Several years ago, the book “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” was quite popular. The author asserted that men are fixers. They see a problem and offer a solution.
Newsflash! Countless women act just like those Martian men. They offer solutions. Please note, unsolicited solutions only lead to arguments. Perhaps the solution-happy folk should take their own advice and let the desire to butt in go, pronto.
Another one of the banal and commonly used idiomatic phrases is “at the end of the day.” According to the Urban Dictionary, the phrase is “an irritating verbal crutch, indicating closure or synopsis, for morons who are incapable of finishing a sentence without incorporating at least one tired cliché.”
Something to keep in mind when falling back on idiomatic expressions is that the core of idiomatic is “idiot.” Does this mean idiots overuse idioms because they are lazy or unimaginative?
Some idioms create instant visuals. For example, “Play it by ear.” Does the image of someone banging their ears on the piano keyboard come to mind? If so, please remember it is a painful act and not recommended. Besides, what does banging the ear on the piano have in common with the concept of allowing things to develop?
If you “bite off more than you can chew,” were you a piggy and did you resemble a chipmunk with puffy cheeks, unable to carry on a conversation?
When someone boasts of using “tricks of the trade,” do you visualize a pavement princess? After all, they ply a specific trade and utilize tricks to succeed.
One idiom takes on mythological meaning. The “golden handshake” means a large amount of money given to someone retiring from the company. What we visualize is the consequence of the King Midas touch. Of course, if you turn into solid gold, your beneficiaries will be thrilled.
Should the urge to summarize a situation arise, consider the visual you may inadvertently conjure. The route of originality rather than lazy idioms is a worthy challenge.